'Adapt or die': Air Miles expiry date part of industry evolution
'It's being splintered by more specialist loyalty programs,' says Saskatoon professor
Air Miles will have to "adapt or die" as customers increasingly divide their loyalty between airline-affiliated loyalty programs, according to David Williams from the Edwards School of Business in Saskatoon.
Customers of the airline rewards program have been racing to redeem any miles earned before 2012, after the program announced those rewards would expire on January 1, 2017.
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The decision has frustrated customers who had been saving their miles to put towards big trips.
"Most people expect their Air Miles to appreciate and not depreciate, and they think of it that they own it as an investment," said Williams, who is an associated professor at the University of Saskatchewan business school.
Speaking to CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning on Monday, he said having a huge stock of air miles was a liability that would show on the company's balance sheet.
As a third party program, and one of Canada's older loyalty programs, Williams said Air Miles had been impacted as more customers joined airline-affiliated loyalty programs over the years.
"I wouldn't say it's a dinosaur but it's being splintered by more specialist loyalty programs," he said.
Williams added that the company would have to adapt to survive in the current market.
"I think Air Miles is an old-school loyalty program, it's going to have to adapt or die," he said.