What I learned from my chat with Kyle Armstrong, CEO of new Avios hotel partner Kaligo

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On Tuesday I wrote about the launch of Kaligo, the new British Airways Executive Club partner.  Kaligo is a hotel booking website which rewards you with 5 – 20 Avios points for every £1 you spend on the site.

Kaligo is also offering a large carrot to persuade you to give them a try – see hereYou will earn 3,000 bonus Avios points on your first booking.  If you spend over £1,000 on your first booking, you will earn a 10,000 Avios bonus!

Head for Points readers were keen to register but there were some teething problems reported.  I had already agreed to do a Q&A with Kaligo’s CEO Kyle Armstrong, so I took the opportunity to find out a bit more about the business.

Raffles:  Why did you decide to launch Kaligo?

Kyle:  Our [Kyle and co-founder Sebastian] corporate careers had us on the road a lot of the time.  Business travellers work hard and usually collect some rewards from their flights. But compared to the money they spend on lodging, the hotel rewards are still relatively small.  We wanted to flip that around.

Raffles:  What is your background and how did you meet?

Kyle:  We met at American Express in Singapore, where I was GM Consumer Travel and Sebastian headed up Airline Loyalty Partnerships.  It was one of those rare moments where all the puzzle pieces fall into place.  I’ve led large travel agency teams and Seb has been a life-long airline loyalty enthusiast – he holds 14 active rewards credit cards issued in three different countries!  We are an Aussie and a German, both a long way from home [Kaligo is based in Singapore] but hopefully with the perfect ingredients for a travel rewards business. 

Raffles:  When did you launch?

Kyle:  We launched last month and the response has been phenomenal, with thousands signing up to take advantage of the launch offers.   We have big plans for the next 12 months as well.

Kaligo 2

Raffles:  How big is the range of hotels offered?

Kyle:  We offer well over 300,000 hotels including all major chains, comparable to the selection at other major sites. For many properties, we have best-in-market prices, which we benchmark in real-time using meta-search technology.

Raffles:  What other airlines miles do you offer apart from Avios?

Kyle:  We offer Asia Miles via Cathay Pacific, JetPrivilege miles [Jet Airways], AAdvantage miles [American Airlines], US Dividend Miles [US Airways], and AirAsia BIG points.  We are in negotiations with other airlines in both hemispheres, covering all three major alliances.

Raffles:  When you book via Kaligo, do you earn hotel points on top of the miles rewards from you?

Kyle:  As with all pre-paid online travel agencies, our rates often do not earn proprietary hotel rewards or status benefits, especially with the major chains. We know this is a consideration for many customers, and it’s a strong motivation for us to make our reward offering ever more compelling. In many cases, it’s already an easy decision: get 5,000 airline miles per night on Kaligo or 500 hotel points per stay directly with the property.

Raffles:  How does your offering compare with Pointshound / Rocketmiles?

Kyle:  Our core model is similar, but there are many differences: Kaligo combines a large hotel selection with uncapped earn rates, so the more you spend the more you earn.  A stay at an expensive luxury property could earn you 10,000 miles per night.  Another unique element is our meta-search technology.  This allows us to compare rates in real-time against other sites and to guide price-sensitive customers towards the best deals.

Raffles:  What introductory bonus are you offering?

Kyle:  BA Executive Club members earn 3,000 bonus Avios on their first booking, and if they spend £1,000 or more they earn 10,000 bonus Avios!  Customers who book multiple rooms, extended stays or a luxury hotel are rewarded even more.

Raffles:  Our readers seemed keen to try the site on Tuesday, but it sounds like there were a few teething problems. Can you shed some light on this?

Kyle:  The response has been fantastic from the article with dozens of readers having already booked and many more registering for the bonus offer.  The comments on the HFP post have been very helpful in pinpointing some teething problems, mostly specific to UK-based users. Growing rapidly and having a lean team means we’ve still got some work ahead of us, but the priority is clear: great customer experience comes first.  We really value the feedback and are actioning it quickly.

Raffles:  Can you talk about the key issues reported by readers and how you are addressing them?

Kyle:  In terms of payment acceptance, we know many readers are keen to use their Amex cards, and we were initially only accepting Amex in some selected currencies. I’m happy to report that we will be accepting American Express for £ transactions from Thursday.

Readers reported that prices were showing as tax-exclusive on the site, which is not customary for the UK market. Thanks to this feedback, we have already switched over to displaying tax-inclusive prices.

There are also some issues with finding selected UK destinations (Heathrow, Leeds, Cambridge), which are not correctly mapped in our system. This will be resolved in the coming days.

Finally, the site is not yet optimized for mobile devices. We’re very much looking forward to launching our phone- and tablet-friendly version in early December.

Thanks to Kyle for his time.  You can learn more about Kaligo in my article from Tuesday.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. Oscar the grouch says:

    Oscar: I’m not interested in arseios, what introductory bonus offers are available on worthwhile points schemes, like aadvantage for instance?

    Tongue in cheek, of course….

  2. How long is the bonus promotion going to last? I don’t want to miss out but can’t do bookings this week.

    • By 31st Jan according to yesterday’s article.

      • Thanks….I have time then. I might wait until I receive positive reviews. I expect to book 5 nights in st Lucia and I know we will be spending around £2K

  3. I am not quite understanding where the 5-100 avios/£ comes from. I see many hotels awarding 3100 avios (3000 bonus + 100 regular) for a night even though hotel costs in excess of £20/night.

  4. Did you reply to yourself in one of the questions? 😀
    (Raffles: What is your background and how did you meet? Rob: We met at American Express in Singapore, …)

    • For those with an Amex Platinum card which requires payment to be made by an Amex Amex card for whichever elements of the trip you want insuring – take a screen grab showing only Visa or MasterCard acceptance and you’ll be covered with Amex should you need to make an insurance claim. Or wait until Amex is accepted.

    • Fixed! Thanks. No idea how that slipped past, I blame Bryan Adams who I was out seeing last night before re-reading this!

  5. I haven’t tried them yet (need to get my last stay credit for retaining Hilton Diamond!) but I’ve been impressed with how responsive they are to addressing issues. The US/AA earning options could also be interesting for UK customers given how few other options we have to earn decent amounts of those miles.

  6. goglobalnz says:

    I can’t see a way to book for adults + children? Just for 3 people

  7. Not so sure about this. I was quoted £244 per night for my chosen hotel with 5,100 Avios to be awarded. But, booking direct with hotel is only £205 per night. For 2 nights that’s £78 difference. I wouldn’t forego £78 for 5,100 Avios.

    • Erico1875 says:

      I had the same observation with Rocketmiles.
      If you are using other peoples money. then these sites are a great points earner. If however, its your own money you are spending, then a quick search on Trivago or Hotelscombined will usually save much more real money than any points are worth
      The initial bonus Avios for a cheapish 1 night stay may be worthwhile though

  8. I’m staying on the sidelines until I’m convinced that these people can deliver what they claim. If their website is any indicator of their expertise and competitiveness,, that might be a long time.

  9. Oh! Matron! says:

    I’ve chased diamond status at Hilton for years, and, after staying in a sofitel in Lux this year, came to the realisation that I’ve been spending a fortune with the wrong company. As I’m Plat with Accor (Thanks Amex), I’ll be using these guys in the future 🙂 (Once they support Amex, of course!)

  10. Just tried a test search and it is INCREDIBLY slow. Went off to get a coffee and it was still going when I got back.
    I’m also concerned over what sort of receipt I will get (for expense claiming purposes) – their FAQ doesn’t mention this.
    I might try it with an odd cheap night next time I want to book one for a personal trip and see how that goes, but to be honest I doubt it will tempt me away from hotels.com for the free night every ten.

    • agreed. this is simply the best way to do it. also they price match so you are never out of pocket.

    • That search is still ongoing – approaching twenty minutes now. I’ll cancel that one and give it one more try (in case it has been affected by the changes Sebastian mentioned below), but if there’s no improvement this is a total non-starter for me.

      • OK that appears to have been the problem, the search is fast enough now. However pricing up a four night stay in Riyadh that I have coming up in January and comparing to hotels.com, Kaligo is more expense (from 2% to >10% depending on specific room type/package selected), so its not for me sorry.

  11. Hi Everyone, a quick update from the Kaligo team that Amex GBP acceptance has now been enabled. As part of this deployment, there was some temporary downtime on the site this morning, so thanks for your patience to those browsing at that time.

    There’s a remaining destination issue with “Leeds” that the team is working on.

  12. OT: Nirgin got east coast franchise. Probably the end of the great deals and rewards. Can never recall seeing promos on west coast line.

    • You don’t consider London to Birmingham for £1 a promo? Virgin have lots of decent advance fares and are also on Megatrain.

      • Used GLC and CAR to EUS routes several times a year in last 7 years. Cannot recall ever getting anything better than the usual advance fare. By comparison, promos that beat advance fares seem to come along fairly regularly at east coast.

  13. I checked Kaligo out today and found that many of their rates do match Expedia and the other main hotel booking sites. I will certainly give Kaligo a go next time I’m booking – the value is amazing compared to what the hotels themselves offer.

  14. linda phillips says:

    Have tried a few dates for hotels for our forthcoming holidays next year, and Kaligo is coming out at about £15 a night deared but with the Avios bonus points it just about wins. So might give them a go.

  15. I wonder it the bosses have considered a little hfp reader bonus points promo as well.. The readers of this site are easily swayed by avios after all 😉

  16. Would be nice to search for hotels via map view, or at least distance from a landmark. Scrolling through all hotels in Dublin to find the airport hotels was a pain. Tried booking now (using Amex).

    “There is some problem with Kaligo. We are very sorry, we’re already working to fix it. Please try again later.”

    Works out at £9 more expensive for the 1 night compared to cheapest elsewhere (surprisingly Amex Travel) but with 3100 more avios. So certainly worth it in this instance. Interestingly the hotel changed names some time ago, but it still has the old name on Kaligo. Perhaps that is the reason I couldn’t finish booking.

  17. Very impressed with Kaligo – my Avios including bonus have posted to my BA account already!

  18. I have sent multiple emails to kaligo.com to request for updates due to website issue during my booking which caused multiple transactions. They have promised to refund but there’s no update after 2 weeks. I wonder if that company is really reliable??

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