Does Loyalty Matter for Airports?

We know that airports don’t exactly bring to mind the concept of loyalty. People bustle frantically around in a hurry to catch the next flight, focused on getting somewhere else. Loyalty programs, after all are the tools of airlines, not the buildings they connect to – or at least that’s how the thinking goes.

It’s worth thinking again, though. Loyalty is valuable to airports in the same way that it’s valuable to auto mechanics. You may not need them everyday, but when you do, you choose the one you like. You choose the one that you have a connection to. More and more, airports are finding that positioning themselves in a positive light to travelers has a manifold of benefits.

For one thing, loyalty programs at airports can play a role in increasing traffic when there are multiple airports accessible to the region, since they give airports a competitive advantage.

Additionally, airport loyalty programs cam also encourage travelers to increase their spend per trip, as they receive benefits accordingly.

Today, the driving force behind airports’ success needs to be a focus on experience – a value proposition that draws customers to the physical premises of the airport as the ideal travel base. That’s where airport loyalty programs come in.


Traditional loyalty programs have encouraged loyalty to a single store. That’s great for single stores, but it leaves centers like airports lacking a cohesive offering. Even if a customer is loyal to a store that’s featured prominently in the airport, their loyalty isn’t really to the airport store – it’s to the store brand, no matter if it’s found online, across the country, or across the street.


An airport loyalty program provides the solution to this problem by branding loyalty towards the airport itself. Customers are encouraged towards repeat purchases at the airport based on its location and its unique offering of stores. The right loyalty program can get every business that’s represented at the airport involved, creating a cohesive community offering that will keep frequent flyers coming back for more. The trick is in creating the right program. So, how do you do that?

Luckily, we can help. Here are a few guidelines to help you craft the airport loyalty program possible.

1. Choose a simple loyalty mechanism

No matter how you want to build your program, remember to keep it simple. This general word of advice can be applied to two key components of your program.

Firstly, choose a platform that makes the process as easy as possible. These days, mobile loyalty apps are a great option, as phones increasingly become a common retail touch point and customers increasingly disdain additional paperwork. If busy flyers need to take five minutes filling out a paper form to join your program, you have a serious problem.

Secondly, make the loyalty mechanism easy to understand. Complex point-based systems can allow you to feature a breadth of customized offers, but if customers have a difficult time understanding how they can get rewards (or even what those rewards will be), you’ll have a difficult time getting consistent engagement. You should be able to explain how your program works in two or three sentences.

2. Get merchants on board

This is the most essential component of an airport loyalty program – active participation from airport merchants. If you’re thinking about introducing an airport loyalty program, you’ve probably realized some of the immediate barriers to getting merchants involved. Just for the sake of clarity, though, let’s review some of them.

Your program needs to work across different types of businesses. From quick preflight retailers, to counter food services, to the sit-down restaurants that woo weary travelers, everybody needs to have access to a common platform that works for them. This platform can’t be difficult to use – it needs to be quick and simple, or merchants will lose interest. Finally, it needs to generate a clear ROI. Businesses that participate in the program must be able to clearly see results, or they’ll quickly become disengaged.

So, how can you overcome all of these issues? The crux of the trick lies in choosing the correct platform and crafting the right program. A loyalty tool like LoyalTap can show merchant engagement and provide quick insights into how to improve participation. Additionally, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who is designated with the responsibility of overseeing the program’s implementation and success. The best loyalty program providers will provide assistance with this, as well.

3. Tell the world

Once an airport loyalty program has been created and merchants have signed on, promotion becomes the next critical element. Airport visitors need to know that the airport has a loyalty program.
This can take the form of public signage, email sends, social updates, or even airport kiosk promotion – check out some more detailed suggestions on how to promote a loyalty program here. The fact is that the more you promote your loyalty program, the more successful it will be.

4. Monitor the results

Now that your program is up and running, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on it. Again, if you’ve chosen a loyalty tool that provides relevant metrics and statistical analysis, you’ll have an easier time reviewing the program’s success and making appropriate modifications.
At the end of the day, you should be constantly shaping your loyalty program based on the best practices and feeding back the most successful tactics to your community of merchants to help everyone grow together.

When they adhere to these guidelines, airport loyalty programs can provide a rich value proposition that encourage travelers to choose your airport over the competition, and to increase their spend during their trip.

In the end, it’s all about creating an experience and relationship that provides value to the traveler, and loyalty programs can help.

Interested in creating your own airport loyalty program? We’d love to help. LoyalTap offers a white-label loyalty app that can be branded to your airport. With LoyalTap, you’ll get your own mobile app that makes loyalty easy for every traveler and merchant. Get in touch with us to start creating airport loyalty today.