Wise Marketer is giving focus to global airline news and trends during February. Though the airline frequent flyer model is the most tenured and highly evolved among the first generation of customer loyalty programs, they remain unique in nature.
As has been well documented, many FFP’s generate contribution margin in nearly equal parts to the profits made by the associated airline itself. Yes, the FFP could not exist without the airline, but it is an amazing phenomena to think that the customer loyalty program has become a business that commands awareness for its loyalty currency (the miles) and that awareness translates into a renewable fountain of profitability.
Covering trends in frequent flyer programs and airline news
We will be covering a short list of important trends and topics impacting the frequent flyer business in an article later this month. To get a jump on that conversation, we reconnected with Ravindra Bhagwanani, Managing Director of Global Flight to get his opinions on the topics that matter for airline marketing executives. The conversation is timely as we approach the Loyalty and Awards Conference being held February 24 – 26, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada. The 2020 event is the 16th organized by Global Flight and The Wise Marketer is pleased to participate as a media partner with Global Flight. We’ll be on-site to follow the proceedings and interview both speakers and delegates.
Ravindra spearheads this global meeting of Travel Loyalty experts and brings together 30 speakers and over 250 delegates from 42 countries to discuss and dissect the key issues facing global travel brands and the providers that support them. Here’s the transcript of our Q&A session with Mr. Bhagwanani:
The Wise Marketer (TWM): Hi Ravindra…tell us a little about the upcoming Loyalty & Awards conference in Vancouver. What are you excited about?
GLOBAL FLIGHT (GF): Loyalty & Awards 2020 is our 16th edition of the conference and awards show. It is a source of pride that our agenda is content driven and focuses on the latest innovations and trends in the travel loyalty space. This year it’s no different, we have over 70 companies registered and the presentations are of very high standard and delivered by executives and difference makers in the travel loyalty industry. Our well-rounded agenda includes case studies and roundtable session with executives from airlines, financial services, hotel academia… we also have a session discussing the status of the Boeing 737MAX program and its reintroduction to the market projected to be later in 2020.
TWM: Can you give us an idea of the topics that will be covered by presenters at Loyalty & Awards 2020?
GF: Innovation and technology are the core of the travel industry whether it’s a full business transformation, moving focus from product to the CX, sustainability or finding the right balance between hard and soft benefits. Changing customer expectations need to be met with solutions that are right for the company and the customer.
These topics, presented by LATAM, Etihad Airways, Air France, and United Airlines, have implications on how the airline and the FFP will ultimately be run and how it will affect membership and passengers. I am looking forward to lively Q&A sessions around each of these topics.
TWM: Delivering a stellar customer experience is a difference-maker for brands today. How do you think CX and Loyalty intersect?
GF: If you live in and around loyalty you know it touches and has an impact on virtually every aspect of your life. I am very excited to explore the periphery of “traditional” loyalty with a couple of brands that discuss how loyalty extends beyond the Big 3 of airlines, hotels, and financial services.
Uber has turned their attention to the loyalty market, aiming at redefining the customer experience through the smart deployment of technology. While at the same time, actively counting on partners to increase its reach. Second, the Vancouver Airport is building today, the customer experience of tomorrow. Customer experience in the airport setting can also help or hinder the way customers feel about their flight experience.
TWM: What are you planning for workshops & supplier sessions?
GF: Workshops are a staple of our conference, but they only work when you have great suppliers with great products to discuss. This year we have a great mix of new and returning partners to present their knowledge and products that will make a difference to your program and add value to the day-to-day challenges loyalty managers face.
TWM: Ravindra, we all know that thought leadership driven content is king, but most business people come to network and make connections at conference events. How do you plan to maximize the opportunities for networking among your attendees?
GF: I am very proud of what the conference has accomplished over the years and how we’ve evolved our activities to keep it fresh and allow delegates to get the most out of the networking opportunities and to meet new people. This is the second year we will are providing social activities in the local community. These activities were a huge success last year at our Paris event.
Taking place on the afternoon of Day 1 after the official opening of the conference and the Keynote address, this year presented by LATAM, those registered will split off into their groups to explore Vancouver from a local’s perspective. These small group activities allow everyone to ease into the conference and meet people in a relaxed atmosphere before the things get up to full speed.
TWM: Vancouver is one of the most beautiful venues in Western Canada. How did you choose the location for this year’s event?
GF: I am very excited to bring Loyalty & Awards 2020 to Vancouver. Our sponsors and partners have been instrumental in making this happen. This year we have been able to attract new sponsors and bring back a few sponsors from the past that have taken a break for a period of time.
I also want to thank our conference venue, The Fairmont Waterfront. This is a 5-star luxury hotel with stunning views of the dynamic Vancouver harbourfront. The hotel provides a central location with many nearby attractions — and of course, some beautiful backdrops for your next selfie!