My Facebook feed is filled with complaints by frequent flyers about inflight credit card announcements.
I share credit card advice all the time, but I don’t have a captive audience. You can read the post or not. However even inflight entertainment pauses for flight attendants to make their pitches. Passengers especially don’t like having their naps interrupted on early or late flights. And sometimes the information is wrong (the card won’t give you a big enough initial bonus for two roundtrips to Hawaii usually).
However inflight credit card announcements aren’t going to go away no matter how much customers complain. However I do think the announcements could be done in a way that’s friendlier for passengers — and more effective for card issuers and their co-brand partners.
- At American Airlines there are two co-brand credit card issuing banks offering personal cards in the U.S.: Citibank and Barclays. Barclays has only two channels under their agreement to acquire customers, inflight and in-airport (but not within 100 feet of an Admirals Club). They have ads in the airport, I think they need to do tabling too.
- American’s President Scott Kirby became the President of United Airlines. He found that United’s credit card program was lagging and also shared that in his experience onboard is the single most effective acquisition channel. So United started making these announcements too.
These inflight announcements can be turned into a positive customer experience.
- Miami Culinary event chef cooking lessons and tastings every 30 minutes on the hour, each lasting half an hour. There were iPads and Barclays brand ambassadors to facilitate card applications and existing AAdvantage Aviator cardmembers received premium seating for the event and a branded cutting board as a gift.
- Dallas Fort-Worth golf event golf instruction from PGA Teaching Professionals. There were two putting greens and iPads and Barclays brand ambassadors to facilitate card applications. Existing AAdvantage Aviator cardmembers received branded golf balls as a gift and an instructional video via email. On the first day of the event golf pro Mark O’Meara was on hand taking photos with passengers.
I love this. It’s value add, existing cardmembers are recognized and perhaps more importantly from the issuer’s perspective potential cardmembers see existing cardmembers recognized which makes prospects want to become customers.
Saying thank you to customers is most leveraged when it’s done in a way other customers can see, that sparks a conversation and turns your best customers into evangelists and salespeople. An inflight benefit that generates discussion with a seat opponent would be even better.
That’s why I think it would be effective to offer cardmember appreciation days inflight. Everyone with a co-brand card gets a free drink or a snack. Everyone who applies at the start of the flight gets a drink or snack when they turn in their application.
That creates challenges for catering but Southwest manages to give everyone free drinks for certain holidays so it is doable. Some people will fill out an application even though they have been rejected before. That is ok, dont focus on the few people who benefit more than they should focus on whether the approach works overall.
Flight attendants can recognize customers with the card through their mobile devices. Thanking a customer for bring a cardmember is appreciated it also shows other passengers being a cardmember is special. And many flight attendants will do it when it is explained to then this will drive applications, since they get paid for new card approvals.
This helps turn a negative into a positive inflight (not necessarily for first class or top elites who get fed anyway, recognize those cardmembers with extra miles). And it helps drive acquisitions. And it isn’t something that should be done before 8 a.m. or in the morning prior to arrival at the end of a redeye.
What do you think?