Airline Sees 11% Increase in Rewards Redemption

A major airline re-imagined their loyalty and rewards program to strengthen brand loyalty by connecting with cardholders after the transaction.

business man buying his airline ticket at the front desk of an airport

The Challenge

A major airline needed to rethink the way they rewarded their most loyal customers. Their existing loyalty program granted frequent fliers access to a branded credit card that could be used to earn points for future flights. However, the airline didn’t just want to fill seats – they also saw the benefit of strengthening brand loyalty and connecting with cardholders after the transaction.

They knew the secret to building a stronger bond was to increase engagement by moving beyond a transactional relationship. To inspire continued interaction with their brand, the airline aimed to drive web traffic and rewards redemption by encouraging customers to redeem for non-cash rewards that would add value to their lives outside of the airport.

A more meaningful and memorable loyalty experience was possible, but they’d need a creative messaging campaign that left a lasting impact.

The Insight

Our experts took a creative approach to crafting a meaningful messaging strategy backed by behavioral science. By building on an existing holiday marketing campaign, we complemented effective communication tactics to drive non-cash redemption and create a memorable rewards experience.

We emphasized holiday gift-giving by featuring select rewards items with catchy captions displayed on gift tags. Digital tags such as “Do not shake! There’s a puppy inside” linked to related categories and turned stressful holiday shopping into a fun and playful experience. These messages not only captured cardholders’ attention, but they also doubled as personalized gift guides that promoted a curated collection of relevant rewards participants could gift to their loved ones.

To ensure our campaign created a meaningful and memorable experience, we used the behavioral science principle of perspective-taking to understand what mattered most to the airline’s loyal customers. Recognizing that frequent fliers had little time to devote to holiday shopping, our streamlined approach offered even the busiest customers an opportunity to give thoughtful gifts to loved ones. We reinforced simplicity through straightforward messaging designed to eliminate mental effort and incorporated aspects of novelty by encouraging participants to print digital tags and attach them to gifts. These elements created a comprehensive experience that cardholders could enjoy outside of the airline’s loyalty program.

By combining creativity with actionable behavioral science insights, we helped our client engage with loyal customers in fun and unexpected ways that also sparked action.

Behavioral Science Principles Applied.


Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Participant.

The Perspective-Taking principle is about using personal empathy and data-driven insights to get a clear perspective on what participants need and want from the program experience.

In this program, we applied Perspective-Taking to understand that frequent fliers had little time to devote to holiday shopping and gave them a way to buy thoughtful gifts for their loved ones.

2 business colleagues leaving an airport with their luggage in hand.

What is the one thing?

The Simplicity principle is centered around creating meaning by anchoring all program elements to a unifying idea, concept, phrase or value.

We applied this principle with straightforward messaging designed to eliminate mental effort for busy fliers to do all their holiday shopping in one place.

business woman at an airport working on her laptop

Employ Surprise and Interest.

The Novelty principle is using unexpected experiences to jolt people out of autopilot thinking through elements of surprise or posing questions to provoke thinking differently.

In this program, we incorporated novelty by encouraging participants to print digital tags and attach them to gifts. These elements created a comprehensive experience that cardholders could enjoy outside of the airline’s loyalty program.

older woman unwrapping a gift from her family
statistics on how our program helped improve business results for our client

The Results

Our creative campaign proved the power of meaningful messaging that appealed to customers’ internal motivators. Through behavioral science techniques like perspective-taking, simplicity and novelty, we helped our client re-imagine their rewards strategy and increased interaction with their brand.

By better understanding the airline’s customer base, we were able to consider and solve for obstacles that made for a more memorable rewards experience. And, just as important, the impact extended beyond rewards redemption – it improved frequent fliers’ holiday season by simplifying the shopping experience. With a selection of curated rewards and simple yet captivating messaging, our client was able to move past transactional loyalty toward a more meaningful relationship with loyal customers.

We’re All About Making New Connections.

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