Late yesterday, I received an email from Randy Petersen, the editor and publisher of Inside Flyer and "the world's leading expert on airline frequent flyer programs". His email announced the end of the Freddie Awards. The real reason he cited for his decision, which he calls the toughest of his life, was the welfare of his employees. After 21 years it simply got to be too much. It was never a for-profit endeavor, but rather, like the rest of Randy's relationship with all things frequent traveler, it was a labor of love. Which brings us to the loyalty marketing takeaway(s) from this news: happy employees make for happy customers. The correlation between loyal employees and loyal customers is well documented, going back to Fred Reicheld's classic "The Loyalty Effect" and more anecdotally, in Danny Meyer's "Setting the Table". The other takeaway, in contrast, is that frequent flyer programs are tired models in an industry not known for happy or loyal employees. The programs have matured and innovation is increasingly on the margin. Hotel and co-brand credit card programs are a different story of course but are also quite mature. Regardless, when it comes to understanding and documenting the frequent traveler industry, Randy is in a class by himself. Randy, thanks and cheers to you!

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