Sun, skies, and amazing deals

As consumers are increasingly seeking ‘good times’ with greater intention, here’s how loyalty can drive value for your business whilst making your customers even happier.

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You pack the suitcase. You make your way to the airport, walk to your airline’s queue, you go through security then sit excitedly watching planes come and go as you await the call to board your own. Booking a trip abroad brings about a unique and widely enjoyed sense excitement and a stream of positive emotions. It’s a chance to reset, to rest and to experience a change of scenery. 

The benefits of travelling are vast. One study found that 80% of its respondents claim travel improves their general mood and outlook on life, with 75% also saying travel helps them reduce stress. Another study found that an overwhelming 91% of its respondents view a holiday as a chance to "hit the reset button" on stress and anxiety.

For many, travel is about exploration. We enjoy the novelty of being in a different part of the world and the opportunity for discovery. And these factors all have something in common. They, amongst other things of course, trigger dopamine reward systems in the brain. And there’s a huge reason why this is relevant for us.

With flight bookings being such a popular redemption option, it’s useful for us to think about what makes travel so emotive for our members and how we can continue to drive loyalty through tailored offerings that work for our members - in this case, our travel enthusiasts.  

The lead up

The New York Times says that anticipation alone accounts for a hefty amount of excitement in relation to travel - yes, pre-trip happiness is a real thing - with vacationers reporting higher degrees of happiness as they anticipate their trip. 

Our human biology makes this finding all the more interesting. When we look forward to doing something fun or enjoyable, our brain triggers a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres. The excitement is emotionally stimulating. Our brain’s limbic system becomes activated as we anticipate what’s to come. 

Silvia Espinosa de los Monteros from IAGL, in our recent roundtable, made a point about travel that fits well with this line of thinking. She mentioned that in 2023, despite the current socioeconomic climate ‘people don’t want to lose the excitement of travel. They don’t want to stop those aspirational trips.’ 

So, what does this mean? Whatever the weather (figuratively speaking) people are keen to pack their bags and getaway. To take the well needed break from their routines and take in the air of a city that’s not their own. And with Avios, members have the power to do this. 

In our insights, we often talk about the power of emotional loyalty and how that impacts customer loyalty. If consumers feel connected to your brand they are likely to engage with programmes continuously over time. 

For members who are already keen to travel and get the opportunity to take a trip using their Avios (whether fully or in part), they can begin to make the association of that feel-good travel sensation with the excellent rewards and experiences made possible with Avios. In turn driving engagement, as members get into the cycle of earning and redeeming in ways that satisfy them. 

Travel + Loyalty. The perfect match

Moving the conversation to loyalty more specifically, there’s a science behind the process of earning and redeeming rewards. As humans, we feel a certain sense of achievement and pride when we see the results of the efforts we’ve made, in varying degrees of course. This is no different when one earns Avios (or any other reward mechanic). Our brains understand and evaluate these small wins as personal success and accomplishment.

And of course, we love a deal. Spending Avios you’ve built up through previous purchases vs spending cash feels a lot more rewarding and almost feels like a form of ‘permissible indulgence’. After all, you’ve worked for it.

The way we speak about redemption can actually support this too. Many of our members use Avios as well as their own payment methods, which has a direct impact on how one may view the price of a trip. Consumer’s perspective of cost lowers when Combined-Currency prices are used (i.e., paying half through Avios and half through cash). It emphasises the ‘free’ aspect of the rewards as well as reminding them how much they’ve saved through redemption. 

Not to mention, FOMO very much exists in the world of travel and loyalty. Loss aversion works in the way that the fear of missing out on a no-cost opportunity can be a strong motivator to earn and redeem points. That’s why it’s important that the rewards members can redeem with Avios feel unmissable. The British Airways Avios-Only flights to destinations like Sharm El-Sheik and Geneva are just one example of rewarding our members in an exciting way, that creates buzz and can even encourage others to engage with us in the hopes of redeeming similar rewards in the future.  

Top notch experiences

Whether we’re talking about customer service and our perceptions of a brand, or a dream holiday by the beach – quality experiences are always top of mind. Our members want to be satisfied and at ease, and we want to make sure they have the best experience from the moment they decide to redeem their Avios on travel to the moment they arrive at their destination.

According to the digital research platform Emerald, a quality experience has a significant effect on customer perceived value, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. As a business centered around loyalty, we understand, and strive to build these great experiences whilst allowing for choice and personalisation.

We believe in allowing our members to decide what works best for them, we want them to redeem rewards that feel personal and suit their needs and their preferences.

So, through our rewards, we’ve done exactly that. This framework and our platform have fared well over the past 30 years as we’ve grown as a brand, attracting more and more members and partners whom we’re able to provide with great experiences that keep them coming back and engaging with us. And we encourage other brands and businesses to look at loyalty through the same lens.

If you’d like to learn more about loyalty within the travel space and how your business can create great experiences for your members, then please get in touch. In the meantime, you can find more information on the topic here.


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