The survey of 1,500 air passengers based in Hong Kong, Singapore and United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed approaching two-thirds (63%) of respondents, which included both leisure and business travellers, were members of an airline loyalty programme, with nearly 80% also members of similar schemes for supermarkets (44%), clothing brands (36%), and restaurants (33%).
However, despite the widespread adoption of Airline Loyalty Programs (ALP), the results revealed passengers felt unable to make the most of them with over half (58%) unsure where they can redeem points and 56% unaware of the value of their points; this figure jumped to 64% in Singapore and the UAE.
Similarly, of the around a third (37%) of respondents who either have never been a member of a loyalty programme or whose membership has lapsed, the main reason cited (after not flying frequently enough to make it worthwhile) is a lack of awareness of the benefits (30%).
The perception that it’s too hard to build up points is the third most common reason for avoiding loyalty programmes (23%), a figure that jumped to a third (33%) of non-members in Singapore.
Despite this apathy amongst non-members, there is an opportunity for airlines to tempt them to sign up. More than half (58%) of respondents not already part of a loyalty programme would be willing to try one in the future, according to the research.
This increases in some key demographics: to 67% in the 26-35-year-old age bracket and 64% in the UAE region.
Hong Kong residents appear the most reluctant to try loyalty programmes with just 46% considering it in the future. Easy check-ins (46%) and cabin class upgrades (44%) are highlighted as the two top reasons a non-member would be willing to sign up.
Of the respondents who are already loyalty members, they belong to an average of at least two airline loyalty programmes, according to the findings. Exclusive access to lounges (32%) and cabin class upgrades (31%) are seen as the top benefits for this group.
For leisure travellers, class upgrades and points not expiring are the most appealing benefits, while a fast track check-in, immediate rewards and free tickets to events appeal more to business travellers.
“VIP lounges and class upgrades are fantastic perks but if a member doesn’t feel confident in how to build up their bank of points or, worse, know how to use them, the selection of benefits becomes irrelevant,” says Marcus Puffer, Vice President & Head of Loyalty Solutions at IBS Software.
“It’s incumbent on airlines to ensure their programme members are aware of the benefits of their loyalty schemes, or they risk losing their interest in being part of the club,” he adds.