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The futuristic fantasy of customer loyalty

Mustafa Ozalcin

Director, Loyalty Marketing and Sales, Amadeus IT Group

In 2000, around the same time that British Airways and Qantas were partnering with Amadeus to develop the next generation of customer IT management solutions, I was taking my first steps in the travel industry with Turkish Airlines, who were in the process of launching their loyalty programme, Miles & Smiles.

mustafa ozalcin


During the various induction and training courses, one of the things that stuck in my mind was the way revenue management experts were able to use historical booking data to forecast future booking revenues. I’d already taken an interest in and researched the loyalty program and asked one of the revenue managers;

“We have all this historical data on bookings which we already use, and now we’re going to have detailed information on individual passenger transactions…I suppose it won’t be too long before we can predict when a particular passenger will travel, allowing us to book their ticket and send it to them in advance…?”

It was more an observation than a question. He dismissed it with the response, “That’s quite a futuristic fantasy. I can’t see it happening any time soon…” And he was right. It didn’t.

Loyalty programmes, for the main, are still predominantly rewards programmes and the reality is that there are more points and miles sitting in member accounts than can ever be spent, and an oversupply of miles limits the programme’s impact on real customer loyalty.

To sustain member loyalty, leading airlines are looking for ways to make the leap from rewards programmes to customer experience programmes, by creating an offering beyond miles accrual to one that includes elements of personalisation and predictive offers and servicing – part of the way to the “futuristic fantasy”.

Today, loyalty programmes still run mainly on in-house solutions, with little or no connectivity to other operational systems. In order to stretch beyond the self-contained loyalty programme and evolve towards customer experience, systems must evolve. Amadeus recognised this and took a major stride to shape the future of travel , by acquiring the industry’s leading loyalty platform in 2013.

Inferred traveller behaviour and taking the right action at the right time (and making life easier for them in the process) is just one area that is going to be a hot topic for discussion at the upcoming Loyalty 2014 event in Amsterdam, where Amadeus will be available to share its vision with you.

The event takes place between 17-19 February at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.

Join us and let’s discuss how customer loyalty will shape the future of travel.


Tags

Traveler Experience