It is sometimes the little things in a loyalty scheme which make the difference. Here are three things I have come across in recent weeks which I thought other schemes could benefit from copying.
Etihad launched an exclusive Twitter account for Gold members
This is quite clever. Everyone offers premium phone lines for their elite members but very few offer a dedicated Twitter team. If you are Gold in Etihad Guest, you can now apply for access to @etihadpremium on Twitter.
- Five minute response times
- Dedicated service
- Retro mileage claims
- Exclusive deals
Applying is cumbersome – for some reason, they insist on seeing a photocopy of your Etihad Guest membership card. Once you have sent that in, they will follow you, you can follow them back and that opens up the direct messaging channel.
British Airways please note.
Redeeming your miles for duty free merchandise
When I flew SAS down to Toulouse recently (photo through my window below!), I flicked through the duty free catalogue. What impressed me was that every product was available for miles as well as cash. 10,300 EuroBonus miles got you 200 Marlboro Gold!
The exchange rate, it has to be said, was poor – around 0.3 Eurocents per mile. For some reason the rate is far worse than the 0.5 Eurocents per mile they use if you redeem miles to buy food and drink onboard.
It is still a good idea though. Imagine how pleased your partner would be if he / she was idly looking through the catalogue, pointed out something they liked and then you said ‘no problem, let’s get it with my miles’.
I’m not sure how you can check the current balance of a mileage account inflight but clearly SAS has found a way.
Rolling over your tier points with Jumeirah Hotels – could BA do this?
I was looking into the small print of my Jumeirah Hotels Sirius account, as I am keen to ensure I spend enough this year to retain Silver status and therefore free breakfast on our family holidays.
Jumeirah tier points do not expire. They roll over annually. Even modest spenders would still find, after a few years, they would qualify for a year of Silver status.
This is a clever move, I think. Two things would happen – either the guest would visit Jumeirah more in the year they had status to enjoy the benefits (a win) or they continue to only stay infrequently, in which case giving out the status has cost very little.
There is another twist with Jumeirah Sirius. When you renew status, your tier points do not reset to zero. They simply deduct what is required for the new tier.
Some of the other hotel schemes which are based around qualifying nights also let you roll over additional nights about your requalification threshold.
Imagine, if you earned 800 tier points with British Airways, only losing 600 when your Silver card was renewed. You would have a head start of requalification next year and may even be tempted to push on for Gold.
This system has pros and cons. The upside is that customers do not feel that tier points are ‘wasted’. At present, a BA flyer who hits 600 for Silver but can never hit 1,500 for Gold sees his additional spend going nowhere in terms of tier points. A rollover scheme stops that and may encourage more custom.
On the downside, someone who values Silver but not Gold may actually stop spending early! If you were on 1,400 tier points, you may be tempted to stop flying BA until you are into your next membership year. This would maximise your time as a Gold as you get all of your current year plus all of the next one – a maximum of 23 months.