Freedom: Perhaps the Ultimate Aspirational Reward

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This week, as I was reminded by The Weekly Flyer on the BoardingArea blog, is the final week that filmmaker/traveler Gabriel Leigh is accepting donation pledges to help fund a feature film about frequent flyers – specifically, those so passionate about earning and redeeming them that they play the system like a finely-tuned violin. “Mileage runners,” they’re called, and they’ll even take flights whose only real destination is a bigger mileage balance. Leigh has already covered the topic in a 20-minute short, Frequent Flyer, released two years ago. This project will update the topic, swiftly changing as it is, and take the coverage to over an hour.

There are lessons to be had about those who play the loyalty system, but that’s another day’s topic. Today, I’d like to revisit a moment from the first documentary that is particularly telling for those who design and execute frequent-flyer and other loyalty programs. An interview with Randy Petersen is featured throughout the production. Randy knows his mileage programs, as founder of Inside Flyer and the Freddies. (And, we’re proud to say, he’s a member of the COLLOQUY editorial advisory board). When speaking about what attracts such avid interest and participation in frequent-flyer programs, Randy highlights a significant benefit: “Freedom.”

Not “freebies.” But “freedom.” The ability to do things, to make decisions, to enhance one’s life, in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. The word is telling. Many elements contribute to freedom, and, yes, the freebie is one such element. Others include privilege, convenience, assistance, guidance, choice and ease. Put the extremes of the mileage runners and the program gamers aside for the moment and remember the most important lesson: Designing programs with an overarching theme of “freedom” can instill incredible power into our initiatives. It’s a matter of offering what is perhaps the ultimate aspirational benefit to core customers in order to earn both their business and their appreciation.

So, I’m looking for some great examples of this concept at work. How does your program bring freedom to your valued customers?

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and colloquy.com, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.

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