At a time when low-cost carriers are expanding, American is looking for ways to lure higher-paying business travelers. The airline will be relying more than ever on its single most effective marketing tool-the AAdvantage frequent flier program.
Starting April 1, American's 23 million frequent fliers can earn miles when they buy flowers via FTD's toll free number, 800-SEND-FTD. Members will get 300 AAdvantage miles on a minimum order of $29.95. For every $10 over the minimum, members will earn an additional 100 miles.
"People who use our 800-number and American Airlines' frequent fliers are similar demographically," said Jerry Schillinger, president of FTD Direct Access, FTD's Chicago-based direct marketing subsidiary. "They are the more affluent customer and one that has a more time-sensitive lifestyle."
Besides linking up with the nation's leading airline, FTD will tap into American's sizable AAdvantage database for direct marketing programs. It plans two major efforts for next Thanksgiving and Christmas. J. Walter Thompson Direct, Detroit, is FTD's direct marketing agency.
American has been a leader in establishing innovative partnerships; more than 25 companies have tied into the AAdvantage program.
For example, American on May 1 will add Hawaiian Airlines to its AAdvantage partners. Members will be able to use American frequent flier mileage to travel on Hawaiian Airlines either between the islands or to Honolulu from the mainland. They will also earn miles when they fly on Hawaiian Airlines between the islands or between the mainland and Honolulu.
"We definitely see more partnerships in the AAdvantage program," said Veronica Lopes, American's manager of partner marketing. "From a marketing standpoint, partnerships make sense because it provides members additional opportunities to earn miles and redeem awards, and increases the utility of the program.
We try to promote a strategy for travelers to earn miles quicker with us than with other airlines."
American isn't the first to sniff out a partnership with a floral delivery company. Northwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines both have agreements with the Flower Club in Los Angeles, though FTD is the No. 1 floral marketer.
American will promote the FTD arrangement in its March/April AAdvantage newsletter that drops in mid-March. The pitch, developed by JWT, is "Earn miles and smiles."