Airlines rate poorly for customer loyalty, finds study

Airlines rate poorly for customer loyalty, finds study

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Only 7% of UK consumers rate airlines as being in the top three categories they are loyal to, according to new research.

Almost a quarter (23%) of consumers say loyalty rewards have the biggest influence on their decision to choose an airline. This is only marginally behind price discounts, where just over a quarter (29%) said this was the top influencer.

More than a third of people (36%) would like airlines to reward them in loyalty currency – this was preferred over exclusive discounts (24%) and cashback (24%).

Of those who are a member, the top three most popular airline loyalty schemes in the UK are:

  • British Airways – Executive Club – 50%
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways – Flying Club – 31%
  • Emirates Skywards Miles – 19%

Charlie Humphreys, managing director business development Emea of marketing and loyalty analytics company Aimia, which carried out the research, said: “Low-cost flying is now the norm, but it’s not just about a race to the bottom on price. Customers are looking for something in return for their bookings.

“A reward for flying and buying services from the airline is a compelling offer for many travellers. It also provides airlines with the opportunity to build more engaging and personal relationships with their customers.”

The research shows many airlines have a lot of work to do in this. Only one in five people (22%) say that the communications they receive from airlines are very relevant to their interests.

This lack of tailored communication could be having a detrimental effect on customer relationships.

Seven in ten (69%) Britons are closing down accounts and subscriptions, and ‘unfriending’ companies as a result of poorly targeted communications.

Humphreys added: “Brands that send untargeted messages to their customer base risk pushing them away. Airlines must do more to listen to their customers and ensure they only send communications that are tailored and relevant to their customers’ interests.”

The top five influencers for picking an airline:

  • Price reduction – 29%
  • Loyalty rewards – 23%
  • Ease of purchase e.g. being able to buy online – 10%
  • Promotional offers such as money off coupons – 10%
  • Word of mouth from friends / family – 8%


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