It’s time for a smart airline to cultivate tomorrow’s frequent fliers: teenagers and students.
My niece, Emily, recently turned 16. My wife and I want to get her a batch of frequent flier miles as soon as her parents get her an account with her preferred airline (that’s a not so subtle hint to my brother, Erich). The last time I visited Emily, she said she’d like to visit Australia. Right there, I had the idea in my head: Get her some air miles. That’s been easier to say than to do – and airlines are missing a major opportunity.
How Airlines Can Step Up
First off, offer deals for student flights. Maybe even tie it into an incentive based on grades or scholarships. Second, offer a promotion that encourages parents to open air miles accounts for their kids. Give a slight break on the cost of the miles, and throw in some sort of cool extra. Like what? Maybe a discount card good at hostels world-wide. Maybe a single-use day pass to an airline lounge. Maybe a tour of the airline’s hub operation to see what it’s like to work at an airline. Whatever it is, make it functional or creative – both, if possible. Show student travelers that they’re important – now and in the future.
Make Flying Cool Again
Airlines and their marketers forget something: that student travelers are blasé about the experience of flying. They’ve grown up in a world where people think flights are stressful, inconvenient glorified bus rides. The adults around them are indifferent to how great it is to fly across the country at 35,000 feet.
That’s not the way I grew up. Flying was cool. I looked forward to the flight just as much as the destination. Any forward-thinking airline can give this back to a new generation of fliers. They’ll need some help from an older generation of fliers, but it can work. It could build loyalty through air miles and just making young travelers feel welcome.
Give student travelers are a chance to have dinner in Chicago and then wake up to breakfast a few hours away from Sydney, and you’ll have them hooked for life.
Got Any Ideas?
Let me put the question to teens and their parents: What sort of “Welcome to Travel” frequent flier offer would get student travelers excited? What besides air miles would help?
This post is sponsored by Student Flights, providers of student travel, cheap international flights, cheap hotels, round the world flights and more.