Do Loyalty Programs Encourage Loyalty?

By | December 29, 2011
English: Jacksonville International Airport fo...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, we read in USA Today’s Travel section that airports are starting to add loyalty programs to encourage travelers to patronize them. This is particularly useful for smaller airports, where people might otherwise drive to larger airports in the region.

Even at larger airports, awarding frequent patrons points in a loyalty program for parking, shopping, and dining at the airport. It does not need to be a large reward all the time, but a token gesture…a privilege that states an airport…or any company, appreciates your business and wishes to keep it.

Loyalty programs gives customers few rewards they want or value. In the end, people must choose the product…the airport…the airline…for its merits, not for its reward program. The loyalty program is merely a way to encourage you to keep coming back.

Too many airlines refer to their programs as frequent flier programs, as opposed to loyalty programs. Because of marketing tie-in deals with credit cards and other organizations, the value of the programs have been severely diluted. No longer do you feel as rewarded for your loyalty. No longer do you even have to fly frequently to gain status in a frequent flier program. It is more of a game to figure out where to put your account.

We’re not immune to this…to playing the game. No one is. But on our next trip, we are flying one way on our preferred airline, and the return on another airline we haven’t flown in a while, just for a change, not just because we want a change, but because it was most convenient. And ironically, the carrier we haven’t flown on in a bit lets you keep your miles now forever, and the other carrier expires them annually.

What gets your loyalty? Are you actually a frequent flier or an infrequent flier with a good credit card? What do you think? Share your comments with us.