Frequent flyers: are you a lover, a prisoner or a crazy ex..?

By Chris C., August 15 2016
Frequent flyers: are you a lover, a prisoner or a crazy ex..?

Platinum, Gold or Silver..? The colour of your airline card is an easy way to categorise frequent flyers.

But the world of customer loyalty is far more complex, as are the relationships between customers and brands.

So here's a new way of looking at the loyalty landscape: through the lens of emotions and behaviours.

In an entertaining yet informative presentation at the CAPA Australia Pacific Summit 2016, Velocity Frequent Flyer CEO Karl Schuster suggested that frequent flyers – like any customers of a brand – can be categorised as intimates, distant admirers, prisoners and crazy ex-girlfriends.

[Click the image above to enlarge it.]

Prisoners are members who don’t like a brand or its associated loyalty program but are still forced to use it by their employer or others – “and what are they going to do when an alternative presents itself? They’re going to escape!” he quips.

On the other side of the chart, intimates represent the ideal frequent flyers: those who love an airline's brand and make a habit of booking with that airline whenever possible.

“That’s nirvana for us,” Schuster says. “We’ve got a lot of those at Virgin Australia… (it means) you’re delivering for them in terms of what they seek on that emotional plain, and at the same time, they’re giving you the maximum share-of-wallet.”

Mixing love with fickleness, you’ve also got distant admirers: people who may love a brand but can’t engage with it on an ongoing basis for one reason or another.

“I’ll take myself as an example,” Schuster comments. “I really love Ferrari as a brand – I may be an individual who has a Ferrari jacket and a cap, I watch motor racing and I absolutely adore that particular brand – but I’m never going to be able to afford it.”

In the world of airlines, Schuster explains that 'distant admirers' can encompass occasional travellers as well as seasoned corporate flyers who are required to book with another airline due to company policy.

That leaves the crazy ex-girlfriend (or crazy ex-boyfriend, for that matter): the people who have actively and deliberately disengaged with a brand they once loved.

“These are people who used to be really engaged with your brand but you’ve done something to tick them off, and they no longer really like you; they might actively disavow,” Schuster explains, adding that “we want to minimise this group as far as possible.”

But pegging individuals as a member of each of those groups is difficult task.

So if you’re worried about finding a “prisoner” or a “crazy-ex” flag on your frequent flyer profile, don’t be – although “if I could map people into those quadrants properly, it would be a lot easier to deal with them!” Schuster laughs.

Also read: Virgin Australia buoyed by growth in business travel

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter:  we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

Note: As always, we request that comments on this article should relate directly to the topic. Comments regarding recent changes to Virgin Australia's fare structure and the impact on Velocity frequent flyers should be posted under this article. Any comments considered off-topic will be deleted.

What category do QF Lifetime Gold's fit into? 


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

As the article indicates it isn't as straight-forward as that, it depends on your relation to the Qantas 'brand'. You might be more of a prisoner because the Lifetime Gold benefits keep you flying with Qantas rather than another airline where you wouldn't have those benefits. You might LOVE Qantas, have been flying with them for decades which is why you are Lifetime Gold. Or you might have earned Lifetime Gold as a 'goal' and then happily moved to another airline, making you a crazy ex!

Of course you are right BUT  add in that I live on the Susnhine Coast with just ine flight (QF) a day and only to SYD. Is the answer still the same or are we perhaps looking for a fifth category?

True. Ahd where does alliances fit into it? I'm loyal to an alliance. Not to any one airline.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 569

I'm a once loyal lover having a fling with a colleague... 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Frequent flyers: are you a lover, a prisoner or a crazy ex..?