Frequent flyer program are tailored to develop brand loyalty to the airline among the consumers. It is a method of marketing used by airlines in the industry. The method involves awarding a point to loyal customers of a certain airline; and almost every airline today has a frequent flyer program. There are some distinct features of the program that differentiate one program from another. For example, one airline program can offer benefits that are related to the airline and another program may not only offer benefits related to the airline but also the points that can be used in other partners with the airline such as hotels, shops, care, hire among others. Also the program can involve linking with other strategic alliances with the airline; this is where travelers can use their points on another partner to the airline. This paper will focus on the Aeroflot Bonus and the 7th Heaven Reward offered by Air Jamaica.
In both programs, travelers will gain a point for travelling using both airlines, Air Jamaica and Aeroflot. In Aeroflot, a passenger will earn a point based on the fare that he/she has paid. Not all fares guarantee that one will earn points; one has to meet the minimum price for fare to earn at least 500 points. The program is free to enroll and all flyers are from 2 years. A ticket in business class will earn double point and a ticket in the economy will earn triple point. The points will be earned depending on the length of the flight with each kilometer earning seven points for the economy class. All points earned under the Aeroflot program can be utilized by the passenger either on a free flight or the passenger may decide to upgrade to another class. The airline also cooperate with other partners, most of them Russian, where the travelers can utilize the points; some of the partners are hotels, such as Novotel in Moscow among other places.
Aeroflot frequent flyer program today has more benefits to the consumer. This was after they introduced 3 levels that offer more services to the clients according to the number of their points, and this include among others: a customer making a preference of sitting position, priority in checking in, access to the airline lounges, awarded priority in the waitlist, allowance of extra weight, among other numerous benefits.
7th Heaven frequent flyer program is a system used by Air Jamaica that rewards trips taken by a passenger on the airline rather than the distance covered. The program by Air Jamaica involves a free ticket after the seventh trip for the same route. This system, unlike other systems, is well known as it has no black outs like most of other programs do. The first class and business class will earn more benefits for the passenger. Some of the other partners that are involved in Air Jamaica include Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines as well as Air Canada. There are other partners such as Hertz Car Hire, among other companies. Air Jamaica has introduced a Rewards Master card that allows the passengers to accumulate points whenever they use the airlines. They have also introduced two levels that have a number of privileges, which include privileges in boarding and access to their lounges amongst other benefits.
Frequent flyer programs by airlines are used as a method of marketing strategy, which to some extent is a very effective method of marketing. It is a system that rewards the consumers for their loyalty to the company. Some customers will repeatedly use a certain airline in the hope that they will gain more points which they will later redeem and save a lot of money. This has been effective in the recent economic crisis that influenced airline and passenger travel with the increase in prices of oil and the crisis in the credit market. In regards to customer loyalty to the brands, almost all airlines have frequent flyers program, and it is important to state that all the programs are almost similar. Also the programs are not exclusive and a traveler can join any loyalty program he/she likes, and for most airlines the programs have a different name to the airline. Although they are meant to create customer loyalty, they are not very effective as consumers have more than one loyalty program with different airline.
Frequent flyers program has a lot of relationship with other companies in regards to marketing. A lot of organizations will join a certain airline loyalty program as partners with intent of marketing their organization and thus benefitting in the process. Organization that joins an airline loyalty program as a partner will in a way benefit from the travelers, such as in providing them with accommodation, transport, entertainment, food and drinks amongst others in their destinations.
Airlines have no choice but to join the frequent flyer program. With all the companies being involved in the program, an airline must be seen to care for the travelers and return back to the customers for their trust in them. The airlines must show that they appreciate the relationship that they have built with the consumers. Most airlines are still recovering from the recent effect of global crisis, high oil prices and very stiff competition in the industry. Most companies have reduced their prices to the lowest point possible, thus they are only marking marginal profits. Therefore, the loyalty program is an extra burden to them.
With almost all companies running different loyalty plans, for the plans to make sense and achieve their intended purpose of customer retention and introduction of new customers, companies must learn to differentiate their programs. Airlines can employ different tactics to differentiate their loyalty programs and in the process still maintain low cost. An example of differentiation is improvement of services based on the number of points. This would include access to lounges, availability in the waiting list, among others. Also airlines can partner so that one program can be used by a number of airlines that have different routes.