IBS Software research reveals gaps in market for MEA and APAC airline loyalty programmes

IBS Software research reveals gaps in market for MEA and APAC airline loyalty programmes

Lounge access and upgrades perceived as top benefits

SaaS solutions provider to the travel industry IBS Software has revealed results from a survey of 1500 air passengers based in Hong Kong, Singapore and UAE.

The research found that 63% of respondents, which included both leisure and business travellers, are members of an airline loyalty programme and nearly 80% also choose to be part of schemes at supermarkets (44%), clothing brands (36%), and restaurants (33%).

Despite popularity of Airline Loyalty Programs (ALP), the results reveal passengers feel unable to make the most of them.

58% said they were unsure where they can redeem points and 56% said they are unaware of the value of their points. This figure jumps to 64% in Singapore and the UAE.

37% of respondents said they have never been a member of a loyalty programme or whose membership has lapsed and 30% cited the main reason as lack of awareness of the benefits, after not flying frequently enough to make it worthwhile. 

The third most common reason for not being a member of a loyalty programme, with nearly a quarter of respondents, was due to the perception it was too hard to build up points. This figure jumps to a third in Singapore.

The survey conducted by YouGov which polled those that travelled from the three destinations in the last 18 months, found there is an opportunity for airlines to tempt them to sign up.

58% of respondents not already part of a loyalty program would be willing to try one in the future and this increases to 67% in the 26–35-year-old age bracket and 64% in the UAE region.

Hong Kong residents seem the most reluctant to try loyalty programs with just 46% considering it in the future.

46% said easy check-ins and 44% said cabin class upgrades were the top reasons as a non-member they would be willing to sign up.

Of the respondents who are already members, 63% said they belong to an average of at least two airline loyalty programs.

In this group, 32% said exclusive access to lounges is a top benefit, while another 31% picked cabin class upgrades.

For leisure travellers, class upgrades and points not expiring are the most appealing benefits, while a fast-track check-in, immediate rewards and free tickets to events appeal more to business travellers.

Marcus Puffer, vice president & head of loyalty solutions of IBS Software, said: “It’s incumbent on airlines to ensure their program members are aware of the benefits of their loyalty schemes, or they risk losing their interest in being part of the club.

“VIP lounges and class upgrades are fantastic perks but if a member doesn’t feel confident in how to build up their bank of points or, worse, know how to use them, the selection of benefits becomes irrelevant.”