Frequent Flyer v2.0
It’s January, the start of a new calendar year, and it seems like we’ve been here before–a new year with more of the same, and more change and more of the unexpected. For the past several years we’ve experienced the consolidation of the airline industry. We already know that 2011 will bring about the merger between Continental and United and the beginnings of a merger between Southwest and AirTran. And while the speculation continues to swirl around other mergers, the positive signs of an economic recovery and the renewed expansion of the airline industry, as well as rising average daily rates for hotel stays, points toward a period of peace and a return to the good old days when more of the same wasn’t a bad thing.
But all this industry talk is really just a distraction to what I think will be a major theme in 2011, and that is the dawn of a new age of the enlightened frequent traveler. Here’s where I am coming from on this. For many years, I’ve attended various travel technology conferences and always felt like an outsider as startups and conversations revolved around the general traveler. When that theme varied at all, it was about the experience of travel as seen through the eyes of the leisure traveler only.
But recently at both the TechCrunch Disrupt show and the PhoCusWright Conference, I noticed for the very first time presentations on tools for the frequent flyer–tools that are far different than TripIt, TripCase and other types of travel planning tools that I currently use.
I saw presentations that focused on the frequent flyer mile. Now, I’ve enjoyed a long streak by paying attention to this specific group of travelers, so to see the travel technology industry, including venture capital and angel funding, to begin to invest and support new ideas for the frequent flyer is long overdue. And I think this means that 2011 will be a year not about the frequent flyer programs themselves, but more about the frequent traveler.
By the end of this year, I have no doubt that many if not all of you will have adopted some sort of new technology to assist you in understanding the value of your miles and points and the choices you have with those miles and points. And with the help of this new technology, it will be far easier than ever before for you to use your miles and points.
So, with all due respect to Delta, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Korean Air, Emirates, Marriott and Choice Hotels, this year will not be about you, it will be about your members at the dawn of a new age of enlightened awareness and it’s all because of technology. Welcome to Miles/Points v2.0.
While we will be involved in some of the new technologies coming along in 2011, InsideFlyer will certainly play a part in identifying these technologies for you and measuring them up for your use. You’ll read when we start using the term “Mint for Flyers.” This term refers to Mint.com–a personal finance Web site that has received a lot of acclaim and a huge loyal following. There will be new Web sites similar to Mint.com, where instead of managing money, you’ll have tools to help you manage your miles and points–and in a far greater manner than the current tools such as MileageManager.com help you right now.
As you know from reading our WiseFlyer column over the years, getting value from your miles and points as a frequent flyer is a constant topic that no traveler, including me, can ever feel totally competent to manage all the time. These technologies will help you become a far more intelligent frequent flyer because it won’t just be about how many miles you have; these tools will help you determine which bonus offers are the best for you, which awards offer the best bang for your buck and just how you should plan your award usage over the years ahead.
But no matter what the technology can do to help you, you can always rely on us to show you the way through it all. We look forward to our shared journey.