Airport Breakage

Jan 13, 2012

When I heard on this morning’s news that the TSA had collected over $400,000 in loose change left behind by travelers in the nation’s airports, one word popped into my head: Breakage.

You might say that only a loyalty geek would think this way, but there is an irony present as there is important conversation going around today about how to revitalize airline frequent flyer programs and whether or not an airport based (land side) loyalty program can succeed.

Kobie has been working with Hawaiian Airlines to add value to its mileage program and had introduced a merchant network that has been extremely well-received by fliers. The learning from this program is being developed into a core competency to serve the airline industry and we’ll report back soon with more news in this area.

The challenge to build an effective rewards or loyalty program in the airports themselves is an even more daunting one. Most people literally “fly” through the parking, check-in, security clearance process just to have enough time at the gate to purchase an over-priced water bottle and be ready to board in time to capture some overhead bin space. Given the environment, you can see why getting people to fall in love with their airport might be a big ask.

There are movements afoot however, with ThanksAgain making inroads at Atlanta Hartsfield and other airports and smaller regional airports such as Gainesville Regional offering programs designed to transform opinions about its facility and increase business in the process. The Road Warrior program at Gainesville Regional is a good example of how customer experience can be at the center of an effectively designed loyalty program. About 800 travelers are reported to have joined the program so far and they enjoy perks such as access to a private lounge and can win rewards like a Nook for their regular use of the facility.

Since I fall squarely in the Road Warrior category, I’d like to share my wish list for one of these programs. maybe you have other ideas. If so, leave a comment here and help all of us traveling loyalty geeks live just a little bit better!

  1. Reward me for an integrated airport/ experience including parking, shopping and dining
  2. Offer me conveniences like no hassle curbside drop-off and check-in with a special set of baggage “specialists”
  3. Allow me to pass through security using the line normally reserved for “Executive Platinum”
  4. Alert me to food and other specials via a mobile application that “knows I’m here”
  5. Let me  earn double miles for purchases with the airline I designate