As airport loyalty programs continue to pop up at an airport near you, we wanted to look more closely at the key components that make airport loyalty programs successful. In our next blog, we will compare a number of airport loyalty models in existence today and break them down in terms of program effectiveness and guest experience.
But, in order to rank and evaluate existing airport loyalty programs, we first have to keep in mind the goals of an airport loyalty program. Airport loyalty program goals fall into the following buckets – most programs have a blend of all of these goals:
- Reinforce the brand of the airport. Airports want travelers to choose their airport over other airports and often can use an airport loyalty program as a differentiator. Moreover, a well-designed airport loyalty program will create additional brand awareness to make the customer experience more sticky by associating the airport loyalty program positively with the brand of the airport.
- Improve the customer experience. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including rewarding and encouraging members to spend, visit, and engage. Of course the rewards need to be designed to be both relevant and motivating. And, a well-designed airport loyalty program also includes incorporating marketing reminders around exclusive deals, events, and access to make the airport loyalty program sticky for guests and “community”-oriented so that they remember to use the program when they are at the airport as well as before their airport visit.
- Easy to use. A good airport loyalty program will be simple for anyone to sign up for and use. This may mean integrating technology and non-technology options (such as signing up at a physical kiosk in the airport, or issuing a physical swipe card tied to the guest identity for those not mobilely inclined). As part of the “ease of use” design, attention must be paid to fast and simple payments tracking of program incentives. For example, rewards can tie to visits, purchases, or both. The airport loyalty program will need a way to quickly track purchases at the counter points of sales, as well as to check visits via check-ins or similar.
- Generate greater customer insight. The final goal of a well-designed airport loyalty program is to use the data and analytics mined around membership, non-membership, frequency of use, reward redemption behavior etc. to better understand the airport guest and leverage this insight to improve the program offering. With proper data analysis and implementation in a closed-feedback loop, an airport loyalty program an increase high-value membership, both through properly profiling and targeting guests, as well by converting low-value members into high-value members through nurturing.
Now that we’ve defined the goals of an airport loyalty program, let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at key features.
One of foundational elements of any airport loyalty program is the rewards structure. On the one hand we have a points structure tied to a variety of guest activities – spending, check-ins, engagement, leaving tips and reviews for other in the loyalty community. And on the other hand we have the rewards that can be redeemed for the earned points. Rewards do not necessarily have to be monetary, though airport giftcards are an obvious choice because they encourage guests to stay, engage, and spend further. Rewards can also be non-monetary and reinforce the exclusivity of the program – such as by offering deals and services to members only, or hosting members-only networking events at an airport bar. Or, even by having a Airport Loyalty “butler” that dons the airport loyalty program brand and roams around the airport bring members food, beverage, and personal shopping runs.
tripchi offers the perfect platform for airport to serve up an effective and engaging airport loyalty program. Through our “Stay and Engage” app, including a website/mobile website access point – the tripchi application allows for end-to-end airport loyalty program management, including loading rewards and deals, tracking and accruing points via a guest dashboard, redeeming rewards – and, most importantly – tying this all to a unique customer identity for analytics and tracking purposes. tripchi can incorporate QR codes via an app, barcodes on physical loyalty cards, or other means of tracking at the Point of Sale system via APIs.
These are the key components of an effective airport loyalty program. Of course, implementing and effectively marketing the program still is almost as important, if not more-so, than the design of the program itself – so simply a well-designed airport loyalty program might not actually be effective during the implementation roll-out.
In our blog next week, we’ll look at how various airport loyalty programs in existence today stack up against our list of goals and features, and we will grade them on both Total Customer Experience as well the ability to meet the goals set up by the airport program office.