It was largely due to support by aviation enthusiasts that von Zeppelin's idea got a second (and third) chance and would be developed into a reasonably reliable technology.
Given the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the term zeppelin in casual use came to refer to all rigid airships. Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world's first airline in revenue service. By mid-1914, DELAG had carried over 34,000 passengers on over 1,500 flights.
After the outbreak of World War I, the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts.
The World War I defeat of Germany in 1918 halted the airship business temporarily, but civilian zeppelins became popular again after the War. Their heyday was during the 1930s when the airships LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin and LZ 129 Hindenburg operated regular transatlantic flights from Germany to North America and Brazil. (The Art Deco spire of the Empire State Building was originally, if impractically, designed to serve as a dirigible terminal for Zeppelins and other airships to dock.)
Sadly, the Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937 hastened the demise of the Zeppelin.