In the fictional book Up in the Air Great West Airlines counted all miles towards lifetime status and Ryan Bingham was on a quest for 1 million miles. He was being tracked by the airline along his quest and they celebrated his achievement when he reached it.
In the film version, George Clooney’s Bingham was an American Airlines flyer and on a quest for 10 million miles. Here he describes that when you hit 10 million “lifetime executive status, you get to meet the chief pilot Maynard Finch, and they put your name on the side of a plane.”
Here’s Clooney actually crossing 10 million miles inflight, and being recognized by the airline.
In real life most customers don’t get any special fanfare when earning annual status or lifetime status unless it’s Tom Stuker. One couple shared that they earned Delta Diamond status together and that seems to have gotten the airline’s attention.
— Michael McMillan (@mikecmcmillan) January 15, 2022
Delta greeted them with a special welcome into the Atlanta Sky Club to celebrate their achievement!
— Sonbok (@sonbokart) January 26, 2022
Meanwhile – go figure – American Airlines offered some real-time recognition for a newly-minted million-miler.
Thank you @AmericanAir helping me celebrate reaching one million miles! I appreciated the meet and greet service at both ends of my flight. You made me feel special. Love me a good old fashioned hand written note. #thankyou #americanairlines #customerlove pic.twitter.com/WNjzhDtYDl
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@cmbarney) January 26, 2022
These ‘moments’ go a long way to solidify loyalty. And let downs at these crucial moments, after a long period of loyalty, create risk that a customer will feel that their sunk costs were bad choices and defect as a result. So putting more effort into acknowledgment, and indeed celebration, can make tremendous sense.