What is a CIP?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

CIP is an abbreviation for a commercially important person. As the latest buzzword used to designate individuals who are entitled to special attention and privileges, the concept of the CIP is associated with service industries such as airlines as well as with the extension of special benefits by governments to key citizens or visitors to the country.

Some airlines identify a regular traveler as a commercially important person (CIP) and give them extra perks.
Some airlines identify a regular traveler as a commercially important person (CIP) and give them extra perks.

In many ways, the CIP is simply an enhanced version of a VIP or very important person. A VIP is often granted special privileges based on such factors as social status, prominence within the community, or due to some special relationship with persons who are high ranking with an organization. One or more factors come together to allow the VIP to enjoy amenities that are not extended to the rank and file.

CIPs also enjoy special attention and privileges, although the reasons behind the extension of those privileges may have nothing to do with social standing or a celebrity status. More commonly, a CIP is one who has some commercial worth to the company or government, and the extra benefits are extended as a means of protecting and nurturing that worth. One good example of this type of activity is found in the airline industry.

Airlines and travel agents may choose to identify a regular traveler as a CIP. This is often the case when the individual frequently uses the same airline for repeated flights. Since the individual represents a steady flow of business for the airline, he or she is often afforded amenities above and beyond those extended to customers who fly on a less frequent basis. This includes authorizing the travel agent to extend special discounts to the CIP for hotel accommodations and other perks related to the vendor partners of the airline. At the same time, the airline may provide access to a CIP lounge that the traveler can enjoy while waiting for a connecting flight.

The idea of a CIP also is found in government cultures as well. Various countries will set the criterion for a CIP based on factors that are important to the country in question. The CIP may be a business owner who employs a significant amount of citizens of the country, thus helping to keep the economy stable. The status may be granted to businesspersons who export a great deal of goods and services, thus securing foreign business that helps to maintain the infrastructure of the nation. The CIP may also be recognized as a model business that observes government regulations in such a way that he or she sets an example for other businesses established in the nation.

Whatever the setting, the CIP enjoys perks that are not extended to other people. The idea behind the designation is to recognize the significance of the individual, while at the same time rewarding the individual for meeting the basic requirements of the status. As time goes on, there will not doubt be additional situations in which the idea of a CIP becomes a common designation.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


It is understandable that a company would want to pamper a current or potential major customer or client, but hopefully this doesn't lead to abuse of privileges, especially in airlines.

The flying experience is difficult enough, between security checks, flight changes and overbooking.

If the airlines and travel agents start assigning even more priority status to those who can afford to fly more often and pay more for services, the problem will continue to get worse.

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