August the 1st 2014 is a day I have been dreading for several years. The reason why?
For a number of years I have enjoyed the benefits of being a Gold Executive Club member with British Airways, the expiry of that status was on 31st July.
It is important to note that I only obtained this status after the acquisition of British Midland by BA in 2012 where I had an elite membership, but with less benefits, so was never really a very frequent flyer with them.
For the past two years, I have enjoyed chilled champagne, outstanding priority service, bonus mile awards and upgrades to better cabins on numerous flights around the World, but now what?
As today approached, I took the opportunity to get full use of the services on offer, often choosing BA over other carriers, so, as we all know, these schemes do do what they are intended to, influence choice and encourage loyalty, whilst rewarding this behaviour.
Whilst planning future travel, I did start to shop around, looking at alternate schemes and carriers, faced with the prospect of “starting again” perhaps with a program from airlines that serve my local airport.
I was amazed therefore to recently receive a new set of baggage tags and membership cards and a well crafted letter informing me of the imminent end of entitlement but rewarding me with a the next level of membership, Silver, even though I would not have qualified out right for it.
So, I am no longer in the Elite, but on reviewing my benefits I still look forward to another year of priority, lounge access and other extras should I choose BA.
The cost to BA for this gesture is not huge, yet demonstrates that they still want my loyalty and are prepared to reward it. These schemes obviously produce results, the results the airlines and carrier groups want, but as with any loyalty or membership programme the execution, packaging and willingness to invest in them are key.
Even though I am now moving down the ladder, paying less and travelling less they still want to show a clear reason why I should choose them.
The lesson we need to learn as venues or organisations from industries and companies who operate loyalty on a global scale for millions of people is that whilst it has an overall aim of making money, in order to do so we must make our customer feel special, feel like their loyalty is being rewarded and above all, even if their loyalty is not what it once was, that we maximise the opportunity to earn monies on what they are spending.