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Elite Flyers Willing to Spend More in Airport Shops, Says Survey

A poll of passengers reveals that flyers can be induced to spend more money on retail therapy at the airport – under the right set of circumstances.

A poll of nearly 3,000 air travelers by Survey Sampling International (SSI) revealed some surprising information about how passengers like to spend their time and money while waiting at the airport for flights. The survey taken at the behest of the consulting firm International Customer Loyalty Programs (ICLP) found that the same loyalty programs that airlines count on to drive repeat business might also be the key to growing sales at airport retail locations as well.

According to the study, passengers surveyed said they would be willing to alter travel habits to spend more time in the airport if retail locations offered some of the same perks and rewards of airline loyalty programs. More than half of the passengers surveyed said that they would be willing to arrive at the airport early if offered a chance to earn shopping vouchers through an airline-style loyalty membership program. More than 45 percent of respondents said that they would be willing to intentionally spend more time at the airport if airside restaurants offered a chance for loyal customers to earn food and drink vouchers.

ICPL head Mignon Buckingham claims that the independent study supports what his company has been preaching for more than two decades. “That insight allows airports to increase the influence they have on customer behavior,” he explained. “In turn, this means they can encourage passengers to turn their time at the airport into an experience, rather than just a process of passing through. They have then paved the way for genuine customer engagement, which in turn will drive a rise in revenue.”

Buckingham cautioned that loyalty rewards will only change passenger behavior if travelers are aware of the opportunities well in advance. The survey found that passengers were much more willing to alter travel and spending habits if perks become available before itineraries are finalized.

[Photo: Syracuse Hancock International Airport]

Comments are Closed.
weero October 4, 2016

Junk science to justify even longer gauntlet runs through overpriced trinket outlets. Voluntary duty free on arrival, I could envision ... everything else would be a joy to see it gone.

Annalisa12 October 4, 2016

What a stupid survey. " A poll of passengers reveals that flyers can be induced to spend more money on retail therapy at the airport – under the right set of circumstances" Under the right circumstances most people will do so many things!

Athena53 October 3, 2016

I agree. THIS Elite flyer is tired of forced marches through "retail space" to get to the gate. I bought whatever gifts/souvenirs I wanted to take home before I got to the airport. If duty-free alcohol prices are right I MIGHT buy some, except that I'm limited to what I can stuff into my checked bag when I connect to my flight home after landing in the US. If I have a lot of time left to kill after I've gotten to the gate area, I spend it in an airline club. Even if I have to buy a day pass it's cheaper than a shopping spree.

alphaod October 3, 2016

If I can arrive and board the flight immediately, that's what I would do. I don't know anyone who likes heading to the airport early so they can shop around. The only people who arrive early are (1) unsure of security line conditions, (2) it's CNY, Christmas, or similar holiday, (3) people who don't fly that much. I used to like going to the airport early, or maybe get a nice long transit so I can hang out in the lounges. Now all I want is to get to my destination in the most efficient manner.

hfly September 30, 2016

Really? This sort of sounds like those Business Traveler surveys in the UK in the old days, BA would always win, oh and BA was a huge advertiser and probably the biggest distributor of the magazine, so the vast majority of those who answered the surveys had less exposure to other airlines. I would guess that this SSI studied those already in/around such retail locations and restaurants (I would bet on it). As all real FF's that I know try to spend as little time in the airport as possible, will only east something at an airport restaurant in an emergency, and avoid retail at all costs.