Airline loyalty professionals are increasingly exploring new models – from subscription loyalty, to prepaid fares or even in perhaps an “unlimited” option for flights.
This short show summarises my conversation with Piotr Kozlowski, who advises some of the world’s largest airline and airport loyalty programmes.
We share ideas that will allow loyalty marketers to inspire their customers to fly again as the world emerges from the dramatic effects of the pandemic.
Listen to hear some creative concepts that loyalty marketers should consider, the reasons they may make sense, and some of the criteria for success.
Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
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Hello and welcome to this week’s short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and today I’m reviewing my episode from October, 2021 with Piotr Kozlowski. Vice President of Airline and Travel Consulting at Comarch.
Our conversation explored the incredible success of airline loyalty programs globally. Why they make sense, especially during difficult times like the pandemic. And we also talked through some exciting new concepts that other airlines and industries are exploring to drive their customer loyalty. We know that the airline industry was one of the most impacted by the pandemic, so we started by discussing the new patterns of business and consumer behavior and how loyalty programs were adjusting to them.
In the short term, extending members tier status was essential and applied almost universally. But over time, the business model of loyalty programs may need to evolve quite differently than how we might have previously expected. In many airlines, the key policy decisions are led from the revenue management department, and this will inevitably impact the benefits available from many loyalty program.
Throughout the first two years of the pandemic, perhaps the most dramatic change in buying behavior was the loss of corporate travel. As well as government restrictions, there was a ban imposed by many companies on traveling for meetings and conferences. Instead, we all turned to the online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and clearly at the time, they were a much more cost effective and efficient solution.
Even though most of the government restrictions have been lifted since then, it seemed like it would take a lot longer for those corporate policy changes to be reversed.
Piotr then shared some of his insights from other innovative programs that Comark works with, such as Heathrow Rewards. Etihad Airway Airways and British Airways, and it was super interesting to hear his perspective and what he’s hearing from those clients.
He’s a huge fan about evolving our loyalty programs, so quite naturally, one of our biggest topics we were excited to talk about was the model of a subscription loyalty program. With Amazon helping to educate consumers on the benefits of being a paying member, it’s no wonder that other sectors like airlines are beginning to wonder whether they could also offer enough benefits to create a recurring revenue stream with members, of course, in addition to the other loyal behaviors we already focus on.
We all know that a subscription model needs to be built in a way that provides customers with the greatest value possible. And that’s hugely challenging as we all know, how easily customers will cancel a subscription if it’s not providing sufficient value to justify the monthly fees.
One other unusual proposition that Piotr shared was how JetBlue had decided to offer its customers an unlimited travel pass for a month, and I thought it was a fascinating option to help leisure travelers in particular to regain some of the confidence they lost during the pandemic and really rediscover their love of flying.
We also wondered whether people would be willing to prepay for airline travel tickets, given how successful that model has been for telecoms companies and even retailers like Starbucks. I thought this was a fascinating idea. And could work very well, especially if the flight ticket was noticeably cheaper in return, giving people a compelling reason to consider paying in smaller monthly installments in advance for something they otherwise typically pay for in one large transaction.
Finally, we talked about the use of artificial intelligence and how Comarch has been using this incredible technology to develop better algorithms that drive better business outcomes. To use cases, Piotr mentioned where to increase the level of personalization and the relevance of the offers that customers can be offered.
And the second was in detecting fraud, using artificial intelligence to identify significant anomalies in customer behavior or points accrual, and help protect our loyalty programs from inevitable hacking attempts.
That’s it for today’s short summary. If you are interested in a global perspective on airline loyalty programs, I highly recommend you check out my conversation with Piotr Kozlowski. It’s available at letstalkloyalty.com/149.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow when I’ll be talking with Kobie Marketing all about their consumer research to help us understand how motivators have changed for consumers as we slowly emerge from the global pandemic.
Then on Thursday, we feature a long overdue conversation with Steve Allmen, who shares how the Canadian Automobile Association is focused on creating member engagement and innovation in equal measure. And driving exponential growth. Thanks again for listening to Let’s Talk Loyalty and have a great week in Loyalty.
This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 245 executives in 27 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.
For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.
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