[Presentation] Why the future of loyalty programs will be social-media based

A couple of days ago we released an exclusive infographic on how The Future of Loyalty Programs will be powered by Social Media. Given the excellent response it has received on Twitter as well as the blogosphere, we thought we’d go ahead and offer some more detailed insights into the current loyalty game and how social platforms are becoming increasingly important to it. Before we move on to the presentation, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the state of social media with respect to loyalty programs and even vice-versa.

Navigating an increasingly connected world

The internet has ensured that the times we live in are constantly changing. Everything about the world, even the beacons we hold sacred on the internet are restless, dynamic, shape-shifting. At the heart of all this change lies the virtual socialization of human society: more than ever before we are interacting with each other and with businesses online. And the most important part of this change is the growth in two-way conversations instead of one-way advertisements; the instant and spontaneous back and forth between a company and its customers rather than force-feeding pre-determined messages; most of all, the ability of social networks to amplify a distressed customer’s voice has shaken up the historically cold company-customer relationship.

What has changed

Let’s get a few things straight before we move on to the presentation.

  1. By now, there really should not be any argument about why loyalty is important. It is quite well-known that a loyal customer is worth more to a company (in this case, airlines) in the long-run than a new customer. For airlines, the future of airline loyalty is now a pressing question given the growth of social technologies.
  2. Traditionally, loyalty programs have never been good at addressing the issue of how to drive loyalty. Sure, if you’re a frequent-flyer, you might want to fly your preferred airline and get lounge access etc. However, what if you’re not a frequent flyer but do fly occasionally all the same? Or what if you’ve flown only a couple of flights with a particular airline? Do traditional loyalty programs provide incentives to drive repeat business for most customers?
  3. Increasingly, airlines are finding various ways on social media to drive loyalty. And, here’s the catch: they’re finding ways to make air travel more attractive and rewarding for even those who aren’t frequent flyers. As such, many airlines are now rushing to find ways of driving social loyalty. Some of these have been covered in our slide-deck on the Top 10 Social Loyalty Initiatives by Airlines.
  4. Social loyalty becomes especially important once airlines realize that some of their most ardent flyers are also its most vocal brand advocates. Hence, it becomes easier for airlines to target the most high-value customers in terms of not only miles flown but also in terms of their social influence online: in other words, Cult Relationship Management. What does this say of future loyalty programs? Yep, it says Opportunity in all-caps.
  5. Lastly, given the ways in which airlines can emotionally connect with customers and engage them on social media, we can safely say that the next generation of loyalty programs won’t be restricted to just coupons, reward points and cabin upgrades. In fact, given the instant fame social media can often provide, recognition might be a key feature of loyalty programs in the future (as they already are in some cases at present). So, is social loyalty the future of frequent flyer programs? It certainly seems so!

Given the growing importance of social loyalty programs, a survey of frequent flyers was done determining their social network usage behaviour, booking preferences as well as what makes them loyal to a particular airline and what they’d like to see in social loyalty programs.

We’re sharing detailed insights from it below and including those that made it to the infographic as well. Enjoy!

Do let us know what you thought of this presentation. We’re listening! Leave a comment below or tweet us @simpliflying.

Leave a Comment

Sustainable Aviation Fuels Powerlist 2023

No, thanks