One Annoying Complaint I Have Had With Frequent Travel Loyalty Programs For Years

I have been a member of various frequent travel loyalty programs for years; and I receive communications from them via e-mail message and other means…

One Annoying Complaint I Have Had With Frequent Travel Loyalty Programs For Years

…and although I have had many different complaints about them over the years, the one which annoys me pertains to communication — specifically, when they send out announcements of a new promotion. I read the communication and find out that the promotion had been ongoing for a few days, a few weeks — and, in rare inexplicably egregious cases, approximately a month.

How many times have you found out about a promotion and attempted to take advantage of it — only to find that a representative of the company knows nothing about it?

One would think that a frequent travel loyalty program would benefit from prompt communications pertaining to their promotions in order to engage their members as soon as possible while simultaneously helping them to plan their future travels accordingly.

Although I cannot recall ever having a problem ensuring that I am retroactively given credit for complying with a promotion before I found out about it — especially those promotions with which registration must be conducted prior to participation — I should not have to go out of my way to contact representatives of a frequent travel loyalty program to have to explain what happened and convince them to credit my membership account properly and appropriately. They should attempt to ensure that the participation in promotions of the program — or membership in it in general, for that matter — is as easy for the customer or member as possible…

…but that is merely idealistic and wishful thinking, I suppose.

One Possible Reason?

The reason I have been consistently given by those people who are either directly or indirectly associated with those programs is a lack of — wait, hold on to your hat — communication.

The marketing department and the loyalty retention department do not communicate with each other, as one of a number of examples; or headquarters has not apprised its divisions of specifics pertaining to a promotion — and no frequent travel loyalty program seems immune from this ironic malady which pervades corporations worldwide.

Frequent travel loyalty programs are also highly competitive. Revealing news of an upcoming promotion or change in policy prior when administrators believe that the time is right to do so is verboten; and that could inhibit releasing the news in a timely manner — possibly to the point where the “gag order” defeats the purpose of the promotion or change in policy in the first place. It’s a promotion or change in policy for a frequent travel loyalty program — not a strategic plan for military action. Sometimes I believe that the perceived sensitivity of information is overblown.


To even further the irony, I have direct access to the divisions of companies in the travel industry; and I find that the communications are sometimes the same — or even worse — as they are towards members.

One would think that releasing news pertaining to something the loyalty programs want their members to know as early as possible would be a simple task — but if the departments within the corporation cannot even communicate properly, how can they be expected to succeed with communicating with customers and members? Perhaps a designated liaison between departments in a travel corporation could improve the communications?

I purposely declined to give specific examples of to what I am referring — I have not know a frequent travel loyalty program to be innocent of poor communications at one time or another — but I am certain you have some examples to share, which I would be interesting in reading in the Comments section below…

Photograph and illustration ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “One Annoying Complaint I Have Had With Frequent Travel Loyalty Programs For Years”

  1. Army says:

    The most recent experience I’ve had was with AMEX. I received an email about the 50,000 bonus points for putting $5k spending within 3 months on my Gold card. I asked the rep. if this was a real offer (since there was that incident last week w/the phantom AMEX offer). The rep had no idea what I was talking about. He told me he sees the initial sign up bonus offer on my account (which I know can’t be valid since the card is almost a year old), but he had never even heard of this new promotion.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Why does that not surprise me, Army?

      By the way, I took a look at your weblog. You are certainly far more realistic about the cost per month for travel than many “bloggers” — especially the ones who incessantly peddle credit cards…

      1. Brian – thank you so much for checking out our site! I’m a really big fan of your blog so that means a lot to me.

        Your comment actually made me think a bit more about what kind of story I really want to convey in my blog… because although I talk about which travel hacks I use to follow my dreams of traveling the world, that’s not really the focal point (and I definitely don’t want to come across as peddling anything).

        My latest blog post was inspired by what I’d like to truly convey to (our future) readers. It would be really awesome if you could check it out! I would nerd-out so much if you had any feedback. 🙂

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          Your article resonated with me, Army — and I recommend that readers of The Gate take a look:

          I lost both of my parents within months of each other; and I played the unenviable role of caregiver.

          I truly understand not wanting to air “personal laundry” and reveal little about myself — on the one hand, what goes on with me is nobody’s business; but on the other hand, there are readers who are interested to get to know me better. It is an interestingly strange conundrum with which I have had to grapple.

          Your article is inspirational, in my opinion. I might respond with an article of my own, as there are many similarities…

          …except that I did not fall in love with Ryan. I hope that he understands…

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