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It is cheaper to retain your customers, than to attract new one’s – we all know that. This old business adage is at the heart of the thousands of loyalty programs that airlines offer.

In this interview, Finnair CMO Johanna Jäkälä shared how the carrier’s loyalty strategy is a key part of their commercial strategy and how new travel technology is changing their business.

World Aviation Festival: Explain the loyalty strategy at your airline and how this fits into the wider commercial strategy

Johanna Jäkälä: The loyalty strategy is core part of our commercial strategy and the loyalty strategy is based on understanding the key consumer groups and their behaviour and values. Our Loyalty strategy is more than a loyalty program, it is the strategy on how we find the recurring customers, how we keep them in our direct loop and how we create stronger bond with them in order to push revenue/yield premium and SoW. We believe that loyalty is more than rewards, points and tiers. It is about building a community of likeminded people sharing their aspirations and needs.

How do you think the traditional FFP is evolving with the influence of new travel technology?

Loyalty is more and more becoming a platform for communities with services, inspiration and interesting content driving purchase and engagement. Technology is vital for future loyalty programs.

What technologies do you think have the potential to disrupt the loyalty industry the most?

Platforms, programmatic, AI, IoT, Sharing technology – all technologies are disrupting the loyalty ecosystem.

How do you view the opportunities surrounding blockchain and loyalty – is it something you are actively looking at?

Absolutely and very interesting possibility. Loyalty currency is kind of a virtual currency already.

What brand inspires the most loyalty in you?