The Next Level in Frequent Flyer Programs - Whitepaper
NIIT Technologies White Paper
Frequent Flyer Programs: Achieving Next LevelFrequent Flyer Programs: Achieving Next Level
Amogh Joshi &
Executive Overview 3
Reaching Next level 3
Know your members 4
Customer loyalty is earned by virtue of an enriched user experience
that compells the traveller to come back willingly. However, it does
make a differece, to have more members on roll so as to
understand them better and offer
delightful service accordingly. Attracting
more members and getting them to
reveal themselves has always been a
tough job. Member acquisition can be
taken to next level by means following key measures:
(Next Level) Channels:
Traditionally paper forms and website were the only channels of
enrolment. With the need to grow, loyalty managers have been
busy exploring more and more accessible channels for
enrolment. Enrolment through mobile apps and in-flight
enrolments via smart tabs are getting trendy. With such channels,
enrolment has become not only hassle free for the FFP, but also
convenient to members.
Next Level of Enrolment Channels
Loyalty not only builds better connections with travelers, but also is
a significant revenue generator for airlines. A plethora of changes
are being made to airline loyalty strategies so as to comply with the
digital customers’ expectations and the rapidly changing industry
landscape. Abundance of digitally available customer information
has opened up new vistas to understand and connect with
travelers; however, such opportunities call for major reforms in
existing loyalty strategies.
The mismatch between opportunity and capability is because of
saturated strategies, which very often inhibit fruitful connection with
frequent flyers, and out of pace technological innovation. In order
to achieve an equilibrium, airlines must strive hard to improve the
service experience and minimize disconnects through alternate
means like product differentiation, innovation and personalization.
Contrary to the convention of just retaining a frequent traveler,
loyalty has a new goal today - to earn the members as brand
ambassadors, endorsing the services to other prospects. This
white paper intends to explore the much needed capabilities,
required to embrace the next level of FFP.
Reaching Next level
Reaching to next level needs sound interpretation of customer
behavior, acumen to gauge the current and upcoming shifts and a
futuristic vision to provide better customer experience. If the course
to Next Level of FFP be mapped, four key factors emerge as
important and non negotiable milestones in the due course:
i. Acquire: Identify the means to source in more loyal customers.
ii. Know: Analysis of traveler data to capture customer behavior
and traits for better decision making.
iii. Retain: Strategize to prevent the current base from competitors.
iv. Grow: Increase value proposition for enhanced customer
Mobile Apps: Rise of smart phones has brought enrolment to
the finger tip of customers. A dedicated app surely helps.
Tabs / Other Hand
Use of Tabs and other HHDs can make enrolment easier
during the journey lifecycle, especially at port or in-flight.
Social Platforms: Platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp, where a good
amount of customers’ time is spent, pose as a real
good option to channelize enrolment through.
Kiosk/Portals : Self service options like kiosk or portals can be
exploited to gain more members. Also, the provision to
issue instant cards is also plausible.
Tabs / Other Hand
SMS and IVR are in vogue to offer enrolment at
will of customers.
Know your members
The only way to serve your member
and gain the patronage is to know
them better. The two step process to
understand your member is to capture
as much information about them, and
being able to process this information
to analyze the pattern, need, preferences, likes and dislikes.
The traditional approach of capturing member details upfront, at
the time of enrolment, gives a mere peek into customer’s
lifestyle and traveling preferences. The questionnaire method is
not only cumbersome but also conceives fabricated results
(though not always).
The Steady Way:
A reliable way of understanding customer is to take a steady and
ongoing approach towards data capturing. Such an approach
consists of two principal components:
i. Identify reliable touch points:
The travel lifecycle of a passenger goes through various services
touch points e.g. Res office, Check-in desk, in-flight, post-flight
instances etc. At every point customer offers crucial clues to its
preference. A loyalty manager should invest effort to identify such
touch points which provide reliable information without
ii. Examine the touch point affairs:
To obtain information it is critical to have an ongoing audit of the
touch point affairs and drain the information to a central database
where it is collated and associated with an entity (Profile). If need
be, the touch point transactions could be modified to obtain
desired information, however this should never come at the cost of
There are approximately eight touch points, which can be used to
capture information in a steady approach. Of them all in-flight and
lounge time, because of their longevity, can be well utilized to
understand customer behavior. Tools (like Quiz, questionnaire,
games) accompanied by incentives may bear more fruits during
this time. Travel preference, e.g. Carrier, schedule, frequency etc.
and in-flight preferences can be deduced from booking and
Access to data never concludes to a clear understanding, unless it
is sorted, processed and analyzed. Raw data is just an increasing
on the disk size unless it is analyzed effectively to understand flying
patters, preferences, like and dislikes. Even the analysis is waste if
the conclusion reached is not actionable. The next level dimension
to analytics is time and action. Information not fetched in time or
not put to action leads to an opportunity lost. The next level of
loyalty calls for better formulation of data and if required,
investment in next generation intelligence tools.
(Next Level) Convenience:
Airlines, which consider customer convenience as paramount, are
more likely to get better results. Choice of a channel must always
consider ease as an essential factor of decision. Also the
enrolment pitch should always be researched and well timed so as
not to burden or bore the customer. Travelers are more
approachable when in flight; however, enough measure should be
taken to keep the enrolment forms short and pleasing though not
discounting the required information.
(Next Level) Campaign / Promotion:
Wonderful results are expected once the offer to enroll is
accompanied with an instant value or a promise to deliver value in
real short terms. Campaigns are instrumental in educating the
prospects about the benefits, privileges and attention associated
with a FFP. Promotions not only persuade customers to join the
group of the recognized (program) but also facilitate cross/up
selling products. Important events, leisure or commercial, can be
utilized to launch well crafted campaigns or promotions.
The primary objective of FFP is to
retain the travelers, thereby mitigating
the risk of losing business and any
erosion of existing customer base. This
objective is achieved in two ways -
firstly by understanding customers’ travel preferences and
serve them exactly the way they want. Secondly, by making
efforts to improve customer engagement through social media,
mobile apps and dedicated member portals.
smooth redemption process involves uniform conversion rates,
wider currency acceptance and almost equal value of currency
across all partners.
Grow with Partners
Growth is a function of both acquisition and retention of members.
Both the factors, contributing to growth, are proportionally related to
value offered through a wide network of easily accessible partners.
Coalition with air and non-air enterprises motivates frequent use of
loyalty program which not only leads to higher rate of enrolment but
also delivers a surge in popularity of FFP. The alliances with partners
from various industries particularly from banking and financial have
enabled travelers to earn and redeem miles through a single
program irrespective of their airlines preferences.
Grow with Programs
Every traveler has its own purpose of travel; some travel for business
while others for leisure. The need and expectations from a journey
are subject to the purpose of travel, and thus comes the need for
programs that are customized for a particular traveler type. The fact
is that loyalty programs have already gone niche with corporate
programs, leisure programs, family/group programs and student
programs. However, it still remains a challenge to get maximum
benefits from such programs as careful classification and tactical
program designs along with smooth and easy transactions are very
important to get desired results.
Grow with Promotions and Campaigns
If not overdone, members feel connected as well as recognized
through cleverly designed campaigns and promotions. Beyond the
tradition of letter campaigns, loyalty has numerous platforms at its
disposal now. Some of the recent promotions tactics that not only
motivates the existing members but also increases the customer
• Launch a mobile game for members.
• Personalized gifts to members travelling First Class or Business
Class. – A personalized bag tag with imprinted member details
could do wonders.
Apart from routine benefits, like priority baggage or immigration
pass etc. loyalty managers must also consider the following
perspectives to stay ahead of competitors.
Stay in touch
FFPs need to explore more touch points apart from existing eight
basic air journey touch points. Devices like smart phones and
tablets improve brand visibility and reach out to travelers through
service messages, alerts, greeting and promotions. Also, wallet
presence and brand recall can be enriched by customized cards as
well as a network of good partners.
Localization of program features based on the commitment to social
behavior and cultural integration will be an important factor for
penetrating the local market other than the home base. While British
members will like to be involved Co-Creation of program benefits,
Indian prefer instant and confirmed, available air rewards.
Customers love personal attention.
Research proves that members feel
privileged when addressed by their
name while being served in-flight, at
check-in gate and other points of interaction. Top tier members
even expect personal meet and greet service imparting a sense
Personalized communication, customized cards, and greetings at
the right occasion along with a personalized service package surely
do wonder to air loyalty programs.
Missing you mailer
A missing you mail to frequent flyers that have not flown with airlines
in last few months can motivate member to choose the airline
whenever they plan to fly next. An interesting promotional offer
attached with the mail will bring favorable results faster.
Customers find complex loyalty programs frustrating as excess of
rules make redemptions a difficult task. As complexity often
discounts the value, FFPs must strike a perfect balance between
offered value and complexity associated with the redemption. A
• Organize member only events yearly - Qantas Frequent Flyer
members have exclusive access to a selection of trusted wine
brands from Qantas epiQure cellar.
• Provide access to lifestyle events – Hopscotch Entertainment
One Offer allows Qantas Club members access to local and
international films at cinemas.
• Offer surprise benefits to top tier members - instant onboard
class upgrade etc.
Global changes in political and economic environment are
continuously shaping needs and expectations of frequent
travelers. The ‘next level’ of loyalty can be achieved not only by
staying in pace with these changes but also by keeping a futuristic
vision and precise understanding of customer behavior. Because
of lower acquisition cost, profitability requires increase in repeat
business resulting from a delightful service experience. As the
expectations are continuously changing, a delightful experience
can only be offered by a reformed loyalty proposition packaged
with exciting add on.
To get the FFP future ready, next level of reforms is required on all
loyalty dimensions i.e. Acquire, Know, Retain and Grow. As long as
loyalty managers have novel ideas to stand out on these
dimensions; viability, growth and profitability of a scheme remains
Write to us at email@example.com www.niit-tech.com
NIIT Technologies is a leading IT solutions organization, servicing customers in North America,
Europe, Asia and Australia. It offers services in Application Development and Maintenance,
Enterprise Solutions including Managed Services and Business Process Outsourcing to
organizations in the Financial Services, Travel & Transportation, Manufacturing/Distribution, and
Government sectors. With employees over 8,000 professionals, NIIT Technologies follows global
standards of software development processes.
Over the years the Company has forged extremely rewarding relationships with global majors, a
testimony to mutual commitment and its ability to retain marquee clients, drawing repeat business
from them. NIIT Technologies has been able to scale its interactions with marquee clients in the
BFSI sector, the Travel Transport & Logistics and Manufacturing & Distribution, into extremely
meaningful, multi-year "collaborations.
NIIT Technologies follows global standards of development, which include ISO 9001:2000
Certification, assessment at Level 5 for SEI-CMMi version 1.2 and ISO 27001 information security
management certification. Its data center operations are assessed at the international ISO 20000
IT management standards.
About NIIT Technologies
About the Author
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Amogh is a Business Solution Specialist with NIIT Technologies TTL vertical. His passion is to provide
creative CRM strategy that positively impacts on customer service, cost reductions and profit
realization. Amogh has also worked extensively on various aspect of Airline Operations and
processes. He has actively participated and contributed in designing and implementing different
loyalty programs around the globe for CRANE for King Club (FFP for Kingfisher Airlines), CRIS for
Skywards (FFP for Emirates Airlines), and CIS for Flying Club (FFP for Virgin Atlantic Airlines).
With around 11 years of work experience in design, development and support of IT systems for
airlines and travel domain using SDLC and Agile methodologies, Amogh has been a catalyst in
steering and formulating business strategies for organizations to achieve maximum gains on
information technology investment.
He is a Certified Scrum Master, Oracle Certified Professional and an accomplished senior
information technology professional with a sharp focus on designing quality solutions that is
required in materializing customer centric business strategies.
To know more, Connect with our Experts
Syed is a Business Analyst with NIIT Technologies Ltd, TTL vertical, one of the largest IT service
providers to Airlines. He has been instrumental in implementing CRM and Loyalty solutions for
global airlines, hotel chains, cruise lines and railways. Apart from Loyalty, he plays a crucial role in
developing business assets on other airline operations including, Passenger services, Border
Security, Passenger Screening and Profiling.
Across the globe, he has designed and implemented key IT solutions for airlines, ITCOS and Travel
Agencies like American Express, Air India, China Eastern, Swiss Air, British Airways, South African
Airways, SITA and Sabre. As an avid writer he has published several whitepapers and case studies
on airline processes.
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