a bed in a plane

First, the rumors on Instagram, or the blogs. Then — the official confirmation from the company account. A drop is coming, everyone wants it, and you need to get our app or be a member of our loyalty program to take part. If you’re a sneaker person, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Why this isn’t yet really happening in the airline world is beyond me. I pitched it many years ago and was told at the the technical capabilities couldn’t keep up. Silly, but fine at the time. Surely in a world of advanced retailing, that’s changed?

Why Drops Are Cool

Sneakerheads go crazy for a new Travis Scott x Jordan shoe. Travelers go crazy for stellar deals, using points or with cash. What if your favorite airline had 1,000 seats for sale, for $1,000 round trip in business class, anywhere.

The enthusiasm, brand awareness, PR and marketing from these sort of things can be immense and overcome the shallow losses they might take. They control the dates and routes after all, and regularly make distressed inventory available for less via loyalty.

a bedroom with a large wall and a large painting on the wall

A Cool Travel Brand Is Doing This

By far, the best thing I’ve seen in travel this year is Dis-Loyalty by Ennismore, the group behind Hoxton, Mondrian and many beloved brands.

The dis-loyalty program is a pay to join loyalty program, somewhat more like a membership, that offers guaranteed discounts up to 50% off at newly opened hotels and a free coffee at any property any day, among many other things. The “younger” a hotel is, the better the discount.

When the brand opens the S/O in the Maldives, that means huge savings on a stunning five star hotel, just because it’s new to the public. In my mind, that’s almost better!

Dis-loyalty has also gotten into the drop game, with limited numbers of unique trips and even $5 rooms available at the hottest hotels going for more than $500 per night. These drops are creating buzz, fun and scarcity around travel, leading to more brand excitement and value to members.

Remember: these people are already paying Dis-loyalty to be a member, so there’s a big economic impact for the Ennismore group already.

Only someone who is enrolled as a member of their paid for loyalty program gets access to these $5 room night offers and spontaneous trips. The coffee benefit is worth the membership fee, but these things create real aspirational desire. Who wouldn’t go stay at a hotel for $5?

It’s fun, it’s spontaneous and it’s what life is all about if you really love travel.

an airplane on the runway

Airline Drops Can Benefit Everyone

Airline executives may occasionally pay shareholder lip service on television, but the reality is that business travel is down. I don’t fundamentally believe it will ever reach the levels of 2019 again. Maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t wavered on this and so far I haven’t been.

In a time where people are constantly just using price comparison sites and booking based on non-loyal factors, creating a feeling of belonging, loyalty and value is exactly what airlines need.

Having an app and drops is a way to get people to engage. Really, it’s designed to inspire more. I certainly wasn’t thinking about new socks, but I logged on to see what new drops are coming and realized I could probably use some socks, a new tee-shirt and I might as well look at Laker “city” edition jerseys. See what I mean?

There’s Been Inroads, But Not Enough

Qantas was the first to offer “points only” flights, where the entire plane could only be booked by loyalty members. British Airways has picked up on this trend, taking to new heights with more flights to more places, and not just during off peak times.

Still, these are not drops and they’re points only.

All the marketing machines are in full force now about discount this and flash sale that in travel for Black Friday, but it’s all transactional, one off interactions. No one outside of Ennismore and some of the online travel agencies are boldly saying…

  • download our app
  • enable push notifications
  • and do this because we’re about to drop something awesome
  • and when we do, you’ll wish you were there
  • and if you get it, you’ll tell all your friends about it

If that doesn’t drive brand affinity, revenue and natural PR buzz, I don’t know what does. It’s time for airlines to embrace drop culture, just like sneaker heads do.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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