How airlines in the Middle East are enhancing brand value through their frequent flyer programs
The InsideFlyer magazine published an article entitled “The FFPs of the Middle East” last September. Though on the face of it, the article compares the various FFPs among the leading airlines there, upon closer look, you also discover the nuances that enhance brand value for the customers of these airlines. As proven by the large number of airlines from the Middle East winning the Freddies earlier this year, there are surely lessons for grabs here.
Catering services specifically to customers’ needs ensures loyalty
The region is flush with oil revenues, and more rich Arabs are taking to the skies – flying business class and first class. Airlines in the region pamper this key segment of their customers. Etihad Airways just opened a plush business class lounge at Abu Dhabi airport and offers limousine pick-ups, like Emirates. Emirates is also the first airline to introduce showers on-board its new A380 first class cabin. Qatar Airways has gourmet meals catered to suit their frequent flyers. It is no wonder that programs like Emirates Skywards reports that the program’s current rate of growth is just over a member a minute.
More importantly, all of these airlines give a variety of options to their customers to en-cash their frequent flyer points – up to 600 options at Etihad! These include not just flight tickets and partner merchandise, but also specially catered experiences like weekend breaks and shopping to one-of-a-kind experiences such as a night with the paparazzi or tandem skydiving among many others.
In addition to pampering the super rich, the budget airlines in the region offer the millions of low-wage workers from South Asia, China and The Philippines to fly home without burning a hole in their pocket. Again, a number of these airlines are owned by the legacy carriers, and new ones are propping up very often. The latest is FlyDubai, being launched by Emirates.
Airline services and frequent flyer programs that actively cater to customers’ needs can have a huge leverage on airline’s brand loyalty, especially over time, as new competitors take to the skies. And this is demonstrated very well by the Middle East carriers.