Back in the early eighties, American Airlines was the first to initiate a frequent flyer programme (FFP). The success of AAdvantage quickly resulted in a multitude of other Airline programmes numbering close to 150 today.
Originally used as a means to increase stickiness to the airline, the miles earned by members of these programmes were designed to be redeemed for free flights. However, in a hyper-evolutionary market, the FFP rapidly transformed into coalition loyalty models that enabled the participation of other allied businesses; predominantly grocers & fuel retailers.
Today Airports, needing to survive in a market rather than subsidised environment, have started to initiate the next evolution in customer loyalty as they look to increase their non-airline revenues through retail sales.