Personalisation is the key to traveller loyalty

Mustafa Ozalcin

Director, Loyalty Marketing and Sales, Amadeus IT Group

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The first airline Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP), contrary to popular belief, was introduced by United Airlines in 1972, nine years before American Airlines introduced Aadvantage, widely renowned as the first FFP. United Airlines’ initial programme presented “loyal” members with personalised plaques and promotional materials. American Airlines Aadvantage on the other hand, was the first to realise the concept of awarding miles to its frequent flyers.

airport people walking

As to when FFP’s started being referred to as ‘Loyalty’ Programmes…is not so clear.

Attend any loyalty event, like the upcoming Loyalty 2015 conference in Istanbuland you’ll find that “Do FFP’s Drive Passenger Loyalty?” is a recurring theme. At their core, airline FFP’s are “Rewards” programmes and it would be difficult to correlate any data to show that passengers are truly loyal to the airline as a direct result of the FFP. However that is not to say that airline FFP’s do not (currently for a select few) and cannot be a powerful strategic component in gaining traveller loyalty.

It’s ironic that when we look back over four decades ago, before awarding miles was introduced, personalised gifts were the first rewards that an airline thought would garner traveller loyalty. Quality Guru Philip Crosby, who coined the phrase “zero defects” and swore by the mantra of “doing things right the first time”, would have been proud.

With the developments in technology, travellers of today expect higher levels of personalisation. In a world where full service airlines face increasing competition from LCCs and hybrid carriers, there is a need to take the next step towards a truly personalised travelexperience.

Supported by the FFP, personalisation appliedthe right way, leads to a better customer experience which in turn results in positive perception of the airline brand, in increasing customer loyalty and an overall increase in the airline’s bottom line.

Amadeus understands the challenges airlines face in providing effective personalisation and customer experience. Airlines need to deal with the complexities related to data collection. Data integration, measurement, analysis and optimisation can be a big challenge without the right technology to help harness all this information.

Loyalty 2015 takes place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Istanbul, 16th – 18th February 2015. Join us and let’s discuss how we can help you shape the future of travel personalisation.


Traveler Experience, Events