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So, which type of FFer are you??

So, which type of FFer are you??

Old Apr 18, 12, 9:52 am
  #1  
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So, which type of FFer are you??

In some of my reading this past week I came across an interesting article about the different passenger types as they relate to the loyalty programs. Basically it splits the population on two axes, yield and satisfaction with the product. It then describes the various folks who fit in the four corners, including splitting some of them a bit.

There are two very poignant conclusions I took out of reading it:
  1. Truly high value customers don't care much about the points; and,
  2. There are a number of low value customers who are worth ignoring, regardless of how loud they complain.
Some more thoughts on the different types of frequent flyers and the graphic they produced are here.

So which type are you??
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:16 am
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Saw this when you posted it on Twitter - and I think it's a pretty cool pseudo-segmentation. I'm definitely in the bottom corner of the grid, probably somewhere between 2a and 2c in the detailed view.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 10:16 am
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Cheap lover (bottom right corner). Nobody loves cheap like beancounters and auditors. Except maybe government secret service agents who don't pay their hooker tabs.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 2:15 pm
  #4  
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What does NPS stand for here? (Why does the original article explain one other acronym but not this one? Good journalism dictates that the first time you use an acronym that it's just possible not everyone knows in a story, you always explain what it stands for.)

Meanwhile, what about complainers who mostly complain (validly, but perhaps a bit too loudly) about bonus promotions that don't work (or where the airline changes the terms without notice in mid-stream)? UA's Months of Miles comes to mind.

It's one thing when there are complainers who just complain about everything. It's another thing when the complaining is caused by something the airline is clearly doing wrong but either doesn't care or can't fix. (Another example would be all the complaining about the way Southwest was messing up in the early days of the RR 2.0 swithover last year, or the current example of all the ways that the UA/CO merger transition is not working so well.)

But how does the airline identify complainers, if they only complain anonymously (say, via FT handles), and never directly to the airline, and never directly in any forum where they can be easily identified?

Meanwhile, the typical non-FTer airline complaint ends in "I'll never fly this airline again". (I hear it all the time around me in airports when there's been a IRROP.) If those passengers would just fullfill that promise (no matter whether this airiline has the lowest fares for their trip the next time or not!), there's nothing more the airline needs to do!

But perhaps "complainer" needs to be clarified. If I tell people my attempt-at-objective opinion of one airline or another, and it comes out negative (because of the facts), is that a complaint? Or is it only a complaint if I "whine" about it?
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Old Apr 18, 12, 2:25 pm
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I think the most important conclusion we can draw going forward is that this whole exercise is kind of pointless. It makes a good powerpoint slide, having 4 bins to drop people into it, but the whole point of new kinds of IT and data collection and analysis is that companies will be able to target people individually. Remember the best business efficiency is charging a different price for every person. That's not legal for public prices, but it is for things like promos and discounts. So I expect they will get more individualized as time goes on.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 3:01 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
What does NPS stand for here? (Why does the original article explain one other acronym but not this one? Good journalism dictates that the first time you use an acronym that it's just possible not everyone knows in a story, you always explain what it stands for.)
Agreed that it was bad form to not explain the acronym in the original story. NPS is Net Promoter Score and is basically how likely the customer is to recommend the company to a friend or colleague. Given that the target audience of the original is the marketing folks and the acronym is commonly used in those circles it isn't completely off-base that they did't define it, but a bit annoying for the rest of us.

Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
But how does the airline identify complainers, if they only complain anonymously (say, via FT handles), and never directly to the airline, and never directly in any forum where they can be easily identified?
Not all of them are as anonymous as they appear. Also, the airlines - if they are doing things correctly - are targeting offers based on FF# combined with other metrics. They're also tracking complaints and such through those same mechanisms. So they should know if you've complained about a broken seat on every single flight and they might just reply telling you to find a different seat to fly in or ignore your repeated complaints completely.

Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
But perhaps "complainer" needs to be clarified. If I tell people my attempt-at-objective opinion of one airline or another, and it comes out negative (because of the facts), is that a complaint? Or is it only a complaint if I "whine" about it?
I think it is up to the company to decide just how they want to define their customers, but the NPS numbers can help them with that.
Originally Posted by drbobguy View Post
I think the most important conclusion we can draw going forward is that this whole exercise is kind of pointless. It makes a good powerpoint slide, having 4 bins to drop people into it, but the whole point of new kinds of IT and data collection and analysis is that companies will be able to target people individually. Remember the best business efficiency is charging a different price for every person. That's not legal for public prices, but it is for things like promos and discounts. So I expect they will get more individualized as time goes on.
Promos are definitely becoming more personalized and targeted. Months of Miles, mentioned above, had different thresholds for customers in different tranches. Similarly, many promos have different earn rates based on the fare basis (high fares are worth more). I do believe that the targeting is getting more and more specific, but I do not think that we'll see truly individualized pricing/targeting in the near future as the operational requirements to run such promos are still too high vis a vis bundling reasonably similar customers into groups and offering promos based on the groups.
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Old Apr 18, 12, 3:11 pm
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Bottom right corner.

I realize things go wrong, but I am happy with my primary carrier and and happy with the perks I get.
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Old Apr 19, 12, 3:03 pm
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Bottom right. I am very cheap, love the airlines, and (obviously) recommend their programs to thousands of people.
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Old Apr 19, 12, 3:10 pm
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Bottom Right.

With wife and kids, I need all the help I can get!
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Old Apr 19, 12, 4:32 pm
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I guess I'm joining the bottom-right chorus. I do travel a fair bit (sometimes on my dime, sometimes on my employer's, and sometimes on miles), and it's typically on 1-2 airlines, so I guess I'm pretty loyal. However, I do tend to defect if another airline offers a fare that is more than say 10% lower.

David
Flyalog
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Old Apr 19, 12, 4:51 pm
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Oh gosh. I hate to admit it, but I'm one of those once-cheap "rising stars" who has been somehow upgraded, massaged, and spoiled into spending more money. Last year I actually spent my own cash for a business class ticket. Who'd a thunkit a few years ago? I should probably turn in my flyertalk badge!

I'm very loyal, and if I am allowed to book someone else, I always do it on "my" airline. This is in hopes of such things as being able to get an upgrade for them, being able to get them into the lounge, and so on.
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Old Apr 19, 12, 5:08 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Not all of them are as anonymous as they appear. Also, the airlines - if they are doing things correctly - are targeting offers based on FF# combined with other metrics. They're also tracking complaints and such through those same mechanisms. So they should know if you've complained about a broken seat on every single flight and they might just reply telling you to find a different seat to fly in or ignore your repeated complaints completely.
But that only tracks if you complain to the airline. It doesn't track whether you complain to all your friends, coworkers, all the people in line with you at the airport, etc.

Now, if people are so silly as to do such complaining on social media pages where they use their real name, they of course can get a backlash (just as job applicants are finding out about backlashes from the same stuff). But very few people on FT can be easily traced back to their real name. So if I do all my complaining about airline X only on FT (or offline out of earhsot of the airline), how do they know? While I think the Southwest conversion to a money-based earning and redemption scheme mostly sucked, I've never complained to Southwest itself about it. And I was already only earning miles from (on the ground) partners and flying Southwest only on reward flights even before RR 2.0 came along, so I have not even changed my behavior as a result of my complaint. (It's just that I've ruled out changing my behiavor in the future, whereas if it had stayed at RR 1.5 I might have eventually started taking paid Southwest flights again.)

I think, amusingly enough, I'm in the bottom right corner simply because I find it "too much trouble" to complain to airlines most of the time. For example, at AA (where I'm elite), I find that I usually get compensated for IRROPS with extra RDMs simply by waiting a week or so! So why bother contacting them? When Southwest "melted down" at the RR 2.0 transition, wait times on their CS calls were documented to be horribly long, so what was the point in calling to complain? Same now with the UA/CO merger, what's the point of calling to complain about some missing Marriott bonus postings, everyone who credited Marriott to UA during MegaMiles has had the same problem since 3/4, and I presume once it's finally (whenever) resolved for one person, it'll probably be resolved for everyone, so agian I just wait instead of complaining (except for complaining anonymously on FT! ).

So it's not that I don't have complaints, and it's not that my lack of complaints mean that I'd recommend every airline. It's just that it's in my nature to let other people be the nail that sticks out and the energy-consuming whine, and I tend to sit back and wait most of the time. I have about the same lack of complaints directed toward the ailrines I like least as toward the airlines I fly the most!

So perhaps this all boils down to the fact that airlines should reward quiet, mild-mannered people in general?
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Old Apr 19, 12, 11:07 pm
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I am square in the bottom right.

Balanced customer who appreciates good service and shows loyalty for upgrades; am not a big complainer. A rising star in theory (though given the past few years I may have plateaued with risk of flaming out... ). Am price sensitive, but am not necessarily frugal.
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Old Apr 20, 12, 1:37 am
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The way I see the modern air travel marketplace is as follows:

(1) The Very wealthy.
These people don't care about value proposition, but about the product. They will pay whatever it takes to get the best product out there. Forget United. These people fly in the Singapore suites and in Emirates first, and through the LH FCT. Loyalty program: irrelevant.

(2) Corporate customers.
No matter what they tell you (and they will :P) loyalty programs shouldn't mean much here. These people's loyalty is really decided by their corporate contracts and not their preferences. But they fly, and fly a lot. They should be given upgrades and preferential treatment. But handing out points hand over fist to this group won't yield any incremental benefits to the airline.

(3) Self-payed leisure travelers who care about the product.
The way I see it, FFPs should cater to these people most of all. Unlike their fellow travelers in group #2, these people have a choice in airlines. They should be given occasional upgrades, and more importantly, lots of points. This group is willing to pay a premium (20-30% in my case) to fly on their airline of choice in exchange for points, upgrades and treatment.

(4) Kettles
These people will buy the lowest fare, period. Most of the time they don't know or care about the rules of the game. Loyalty program: irrelevant.

(5) Points People
These people pay as little as humanly possible. Points earned on the cheapest fares and routes, plus credit card spend, and of course sign-up bonuses. These points are then redeemed on high-value international J/F awards or last-minute Y. These people play the game.

I think 70% of Flyertalk falls into categories (2) and (3), and 30% into (5).
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Old Apr 20, 12, 6:49 am
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Most definitely a "rising star". The credit card companies already are recognizing this across the board (of course with help from my credit report which shows massively increased responsibility, spending, and payments being made over the past 2.5 years).

I am mouthy about what I like and about what I dislike equally. I often give compliments to people/places when they don't expect it (like taking a moment to let the lady at a particular Dunkin Donuts in the area know that she makes the best lattes of all the local stores and employees, hands down).

As a mother, I care about value for the dollar, and as a lover of expensive, high-end cosmetics/clothing/etc I also care about quality and experience.

In the end, I have been long known to spend more to get quality, and then to voice my reasoning/opinions in such a way as to convince other people to do the same.

(Of course, airlines and hotels and rental car companies are a new indulgence for me as compared to the other things I tend to indulge in, so I am still formulating opinions as to who I will be loyal to. But I am a loyal customer... just ask Estee Lauder: despite the fact a package of makeup remover wipes are $18, I won't buy the vast majority of my cosmetics anyplace else because EL is simply the best, IMHO.)
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