British Airways has selected Miller Huber Relationship Marketing, San Francisco, to develop a business-travel relationship marketing program that targets small- and medium-size businesses.
Although few details were being released, the program will take a different approach from typical frequent-flier programs, said Scott Waltz, vice president and director of client services at Miller Huber.
“The frequent-flier programs of today are based on the market situation of 1980. Things have changed,” he said. “We put together a relationship marketing program based on today's business traveler.”
Today's business traveler is more likely to use frequent-flier miles for upgrades on business flights and less likely to use a travel agent than business travelers of the early 1980s, the agency says.
“Today, hopes of getting leisure travel out of business miles is not happening. We see more people using their miles to upgrade to a higher class,” he said. “With computerization of the reservation system, it's much simpler to make a reservation directly with the airline.”
The agency decided to focus on a program designed for small- and medium-size businesses because it is a part of the market that often is overlooked and that the airline industry has only recently begun to study from a relationship marketing perspective, Waltz said.
“There are contract rates with large corporations that consolidate with carriers, but a lot of travel is done by small- and medium-size organizations and you can't canvass moderate-size businesses with a personal selling force,” he said.
British Airways was the first company the agency contacted to pitch the program because of the airline's strong brand and large numbers of business travelers and international passengers, Waltz said.
He declined to reveal the launch date of the program.