Getting loyalty rewards is about spending, not flying

One of the most frequent gripes I encounter from customers is the difficulty many have in redeeming a business class ticket or cabin upgrades with points.

It's odd that a frequent flyer would have this kind of issue but when you look at how frequent flyer programs have evolved in recent years, you can begin to see why.

The sheer number of points now available in the market has given airlines the space to tighten redemption conditions for flights and upgrades.  This has put passengers who rely on flights as their earning source at a huge disadvantage.

The days of nine paid flights roughly equalling one free flight are over.  Flying is now the slow way to build a redeemable points balance.

From a customer perspective, this means you have to refocus your approach to earning points from flying to everyday spending.  Forget being a frequent flyer, if you want the juiciest benefits you'll need to become a frequent spender.

Essentially, the points you earn from actually flying are much less important than the points you earn on the ground.

To compete with other passengers for the loyalty seats on offer, it's more important than ever for travellers to look further afield.  This means linking your points earning sources to your day to day purchases.

The ability to earn Qantas and Velocity Points exists with credit cards, online shopping, supermarkets, petrol, electricity, home loans, apartments and even magazine subscriptions.  With earning opportunities likely to increase in the coming years, the points cost for redeeming even basic benefits will only get larger.

Maintaining your ability to redeem rewards in this ocean of points lies in increasing the sources you can collect points from.

With frequent flyer programs continuing to evolve and new offerings like Qantas Business Rewards recently entering the frame, now is definitely the time to tap in.

Steve Hui's company iFLYflat is an industry leader in reward points management. Connect with Steve on Linkedin and follow him on Twitter.

Steve Hui

The Points Whisperer - iFLYflat. Helping SME business owners have the freedom to travel business class cheaper, anytime, anywhere.