Destination: Loyalty

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Today’s consumers are looking for better prices and more value for their travel dollars. That’s why loyalty in the skies is more important than ever.

American Airlines has launched its largest initiative to date to build membership in its A Advantage program, with a specific focus on Hispanics. This is a smart flight plan: The demographic now numbers 46 million in the U.S., with buying power projected to reach $1.3 trillion in 2013, according to a report by Packaged Facts.

“We have seen in the past several years that the disposable income and economic power of Hispanics has grown tremendously, and we want to make sure we are supplying that consumer with the right kind of service,” says Billy Sanez, director of advertising, promotion and corporate communications for American.

The campaign, which focuses on the program’s benefits as well as the airline’s service to Latin America, will run for 18 months. The extended time period is to saturate national markets; TV spots will be concentrated in Miami, Dallas and Chicago, hub cities for the airline where about 41% of U.S. Hispanics live, according to the company. The effort also includes radio, print, online, social media and a contest.

American is also using Twitter for the first time — @Aairways — tweeting in both English and Spanish about the benefits of the air miles program.

“We started to dip our toe into social media and found it is working pretty well for something like this,” Sanez says.

Under the Give & Go contest, once players join A Advantage, they have a chance to win a trip for two to Madrid, among other prizes.

In print, the company is focusing on publications that reach the Hispanic business traveler, such as Hispanic Business Magazine. And it is leveraging its sponsorship of Major League Soccer to promote A Advantage on ESPN Deportes and games on major Spanish-language TV networks, Univisión and Telemundo, among others.

A Advantage, established in 1981, has about 62 million members. The campaign is handled by American’s longtime U.S. Hispanic agency, Zubi Advertising Services, Inc.

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  • Airline frequent-flyer clubs are no longer the most highly subscribed category in the U.S. loyalty industry, according to Colloquy.

  • The latest annual Loyalty Census found that the airlines’ programs had 277.4 million American members in 2008, up 9% from 2006. Even so, that number was surpassed by the 422 million members who took part in financial services loyalty programs like credit card perks in 2008. That total was up 77% from 238.8 million in 2006.


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by Patty Odell

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