Today we review learnings from Skywards and how Emirates’ loyalty team increased its focus on personalisation, partnerships, and new propositions to create even more compelling experiences for customers throughout the COVID pandemic.
In this episode, I summarise what Dr Nejib Ben Khedher shared in his October 2021 interview with us, and how Skywards focuses on key loyalty drivers, going back to basics to support the airline as it recovered from the effects of the pandemic.
We also discuss Skywards+, the latest addition to the Skywards proposition, as well as the gamification approach that was proving increasingly popular, allowing members to compete to claim tickets for unique Skywards Experiences through Emirates-sponsored events
Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
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Hello and welcome to this week’s short episode of Lets Talk Loyalty. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and today I’m reviewing my episode from October, 2021 with Dr. Nejib Ben Khedher, Divisional Senior Vice President of Emirates Airline at Skywards. This was Dr. Nejib second time on the show. And at this conversation we discussed the importance and power of personalization, partnerships, and also some of Skywards latest propositions.
This conversation was recorded as the Covid pandemic was finally beginning to slow down, and showing signs of coming to an end globally. So it was a great opportunity to review and reflect on the changes that occurred. In fact, my first interview with Nejib took place in early March, 2020, just two weeks before the world went into lockdown.
This gave us a super exciting insight on how Skywards used these incredibly challenging times to launch compelling new propositions that might otherwise not have been such a priority for the business. As we all know, loyal customers are even more valuable in times of any global crisis, and loyalty programs often benefit.
We become more essential, increasingly respected, and often more visible within the parent or operating company. And it seems that’s exactly what happened for Skywards. Nejib firstly explained that Skywards adopted an even greater focus on personalization during this 18 month period, and began really testing each of the factors affecting their key performance drivers.
In order to learn what members really love. For example, there was a renewed focus on driving the effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns. This drove a significantly increased performance with Skywards by then sending out an average of 86 variations of its email campaigns. And overall doubling the email open rates, truly superb progress.
Another key part of the program’s evolution was its transition into becoming a complete lifestyle program from members rather than simply a frequent flyer program as it had been before. This includes things like retail partnerships, such as earning Skyward miles when shopping at Dubai Mall. So members like me based in Dubai can engage and earn Skyward miles even when we’re not flying.
Nejib shared that their partner active base doubled from its pre pandemic levels proving the value of those non-travel partnerships in a way that no one could have predicted. Another key thing I learned from Najib was the importance of focusing on doing fewer things so you can really make sure you can deliver them super well.
There is an endless list of exciting projects that Skywards could try to deliver. But instead, they focus on doing fewer things really well in order to ensure success with this level of clarity and focus, even throughout the global pandemic, Skyward gained around another million members. So clearly this approach really works.
Another main topic in this conversation was Skywards+ the paid program that offers members additional exclusive benefits across three tiers. Nejib shared that this proposition had been continually evolving throughout its development with the goal of creating a compelling range of benefits alongside the core program that members will happily pay for.
So I’ll be excited to hear how that has been performing when we next meet. Finally, we chatted about how Skywards uses gamification. By leveraging its portfolio of incredible sponsorship assets, Emirates has created a way for its Skyward members to bid for access to tickets to some of its world-class sporting events in an auction format.
It seems this is something members really love, especially as social and sporting events were, again, slowly opening up around the world. As always, I absolutely loved hearing the latest Inside News from Dr. Nejib Ben Khedher. Skywards is the program I am personally most engaged with, and I’m excited to reconnect with the guys again in 2023 to hopefully do the same.
For any of you who want to listen to that full episode, please do check it out. It’s available on letstalkloyalty.com/155. That’s it for today. Thank you for listening to this short episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Join me tomorrow when I’ll be joined by another iconic brand from Dubai, the Jumeirah Group, a luxury hotel brand.
Then again, on Thursday when I’m interviewing for the first time, Ben Lipsey, head of Flying Blue from Air France KLM. There are so many exciting things happening in the world of loyalty in the travel industry.
Have a great week in loyalty.
This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, insights, and research.
The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.
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