Turkish Airlines’ Frequent Flyer Programme Over The Years...

In today’s service industry, estimating the needs of the customers is no longer satisfactory, it is necessary for organisations to treat customers by recognising their expectations and differentiating the levels of service offered. Turkish Airlines is also stepping forward by redesigning its Frequent Flyer Program on a regular basis according to its members’ needs and constantly changing requirements, and will continue to do so.
Loyalty Programs have become one of the most important marketing tools in the industry and continue to grow. According to Jupiter Research, more than 75% of consumers today have at least one loyalty card, and the number of people with two or more is estimated to be one-third of the shopping population. According to information-technology analyst Gartners’ Adam Sarner, U.S. companies spent more than $ 1.2 billion on customer loyalty programmes in 2003.
Turkish Airlines launched its first Frequent Flyer Program in 1989 when airlines were just beginning to discover the benefits of engaging in Loyalty Programs. “The Customer Is A Key” was the ideology by which we were inspired. This meant seeing our passengers as our guide for the services we provide. This is the principle we still apply today, and do our best to keep this feeling alive.
Prior to Turkish Airlines’ first frequent flyer program, air travel used to take place mainly in the summer months, and Turkish citizens living abroad were travelling mainly to Turkey to visit loved ones. A contrast to today, when business trips are on the rise and the destinations flown to are varied. Much has changed since the inception of Turkish Airlines’ first Frequent Flyer Program. In the very first years, all of our members flights were registered to their accounts manually and application forms were provided for a fee. Our Program, which was called “Frequent Flyer”, continued until the decision to join the Qualiflyer Group in 1998. On October 29, 2000, Turkish Airlines decided to opt out of the Qualiflyer Group and launched its own frequent flyer programme, “Miles&Smiles”.
At the end of the first years of our first program, we had reached 25.000 members. Today, having recently celebrated the 6th year of our Miles&Smiles Programme, 2006 the number of our members has surpassed the magical 1 million mark and we still strive to keep close relationships with our members, just as in the earlier years.
Our Elite members are entitled to benefit from CIP lounges so that they can relax before their flights and all members benefit from priority reservations. Unlike many Frequent Flyer Programmes, all Miles&Smiles members are able to redeem their miles for award tickets as long as the flight is open for sale. This means members are able to use their award tickets even during the busiest holiday periods even in the high season like school holidays.
Turkish Airlines will soon start to work on agreement procedures for joining the world’s largest airline group, The Star Alliance, made up of 18 member airlines. Miles&Smiles members will have the opportunity to take advantage of earning and redeeming miles for award tickets on other member airlines’ flights and will also be able to benefit from a greater number of CIP lounges worldwide.
Our continuing aim is to win the hearts and minds of our customers by trying to serve you better every day by combining the joy we felt 17 years ago when the program first started with the experience we have gained during these years.
Please visit www.thy.com for more information regarding Miles&Smiles membership privileges.

* ‘The Lowdown on Customer Loyalty Programs: Which Are Most Effective and Why’, published at www.knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu, September 6, 2006.