New BIA program will reward customer loyalty

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 22, 2012, at 5:46 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — An idea born from a presentation during an airport industry conference a year ago is poised to take flight soon at Bangor International Airport.

While attending the conference in 2011, BIA Marketing Manager Risteen Bahr sat in on a panel presentation about airport reward programs for customers.

“They talked about things they do for incentives to create customer loyalty,” Bahr explained. “We all agreed it was a good idea, so we started looking into this program and others, along with the possibility of creating our own.”

Bahr said it became very obvious early on that starting and operating their own customer loyalty program would be both time-consuming and expensive for BIA staff.

“We started researching companies that provide the service for airports and this one kept coming to the top,” said Bahr. “They came up to give us a presentation in July.”

They are Thanks Again, a Georgia-based loyalty rewards program company which began operations in 2004.

The program operates basically the same as any other customer rewards program, earning members one mile with one airline selected by the member for every dollar spent at BIA, other businesses and even other airports.

The Bangor City Council’s Airport Committee unanimously approved the loyalty program plan and the full council can vote on it as early as Monday night.

“If we get approval, we’ll try to kick things off shortly in a month,” Bahr said. “We think we could get this rolled out by the end of October and work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote it.”

The program will cost a monthly fee, which ranges from $7.50 to $2.50 in the Thanks Again system.

“The customer chooses which airline he wants his program points to accumulate miles with,” Bahr explained. “The point totals are different from airline to airline, but I think most airlines have switched over to nonexpiring mileage systems.”

All airlines except Allegiant will participate in the Bangor program.

Bahr said this program is open to all Maine residents as well as Canadians, who are responsible for a marked increase in the number of customers from outside Maine using BIA.

“It’s engendered by the fact that smaller airports were trying to find a way to incentivize people to use their facilities. Rewards points come from money spent on parking, merchandise sales and food in the airport, and we’ll reach out to other businesses and services like the Four Points by Sheraton here and other hotels in the area,” Bahr said.

Passengers and employees will be able to enroll online on a secure site at www.thanksagain.com and can automatically begin earning one mile for every dollar spent at any of the airport’s facilities. Bahr said up to 25,000 bonus miles can be earned every 90 days based on cumulative registered card purchases at more than 170 airports and 25,000 local businesses in the U.S. and Canada.

Airport officials said the program has a dual purpose: To thank customers for repeated business and to provide incentives for them to keep coming back.

“Certainly it’s good to help curb some of the leakage we get of customers to other airports and it’s also a way of rewarding their loyalty and continued business,” said BIA Director Anthony Caruso. “It also gives us an opportunity to work with our concessionaires here in the airport on another level, so it certainly should be a great benefit for the airport and customers alike.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/09/22/business/new-program-will-help-bia-start-rewarding-customers-loyalty/ printed on December 25, 2014