Taking care of loyal donors – it’s all about the stewardship

Travelling a lot each year, I have come to appreciate airline mileage and hotel frequent guest programs. There is not doubt it is one of the only perks of frequent travel.

Yet, I am surprised at the way airlines and hotels treat their members who hit top tier status year after year. Two recent examples for me include Virgin Australia and Hilton Hotels. I am at the top tier for each program. I have hit the top tier for more than 8 years with Virgin Australia and more than 12 years with Hilton Hotels. While not the most of any traveller, it is a lot of travel by most standards. I’ve been part of the Virgin Australia Velocity program for 8 years and this is my 20th anniversary with the Hilton Honors program.
HiltonWhen I hit the tier status in 2016, I was notified by each with a simple membership card contained in a postcard-style leaflet. Yet, when I obtained the top tier status the first time with each I was sent a packet which would fill the smallest of letterboxes. The original packs included a welcome letter, a membership card, luggage tags, and a handful of partnership offers. The benefits and gifts came to a crashing halt in years two and beyond for at least one of a programs and dwindled massively for the other.

I question why this is so and why these travel-related companies do not take better care of their most loyal customers? I hope nonprofit organisations would not treat their loyal donors in the same way. Nonprofit organisations should and ought to recognise first time top-tier donors with fanfare and should continue to do so when those loyal donors hit the top tier each year thereafter. Consecutive year top tier donors (or travellers in my case) bring far more lifetime value to the charity (or airline/hotel company) than one time or sporadic givers. If people do not get what they are looking for or feel valued for their loyalty, they will go elsewhere. It’s all about the stewardship.