Today “Let’s Talk Loyalty” is sharing the latest announcement and innovation from the Star Alliance – a co-branded credit card.
This is the first co-branded credit card ever issued by an airline alliance rather than simply an individual airline.
This new Star Alliance credit card offers people in Australia the opportunity to fast-track their status to Gold based on their everyday spend, even if they are not flying.
It’s a radical new strategy and one that is proving to be an incredible success, so please do enjoy learning all about it from Renato Ramos, the Director of Loyalty for the Star Alliance.
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.
This show is sponsored by Comarch, a global provider of innovative software products and business services. Comarch’s platform is used by leading brands across all industries to drive their customer loyalty. Powered by AI and machine learning, Comarch technologies allow you to build, run, and manage personalized loyalty programs and product offers with ease. For more information, please visit comarch.com.
Welcome to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty, featuring another exciting guest who is returning for a second time to the show to share his insights. Renato Ramos is the Director of Loyalty for the Star Alliance, and he’s also now the Managing Director for the Star Alliance in Australia.
Renato was last with us on the show as a guest in April, 2021. Now, as many of you know, the Star Alliance created a real milestone for the airline industry when it was founded in 1997. It was truly the first global airline alliance linking five major airlines into a single network and offering a completely new type of service to international travelers.
Since then, the Star Alliance has expanded to 26 member airlines who together fly to 195 countries worldwide. And today we’ve invited Renato back on the show to share the story of another completely new service to international travelers. It’s a new co-branded credit card, but this time it’s issued by the actual airline alliance.
The New Star Alliance co-branded credit card offers people in Australia the opportunity to fast track their status to gold based on their everyday spend and even when they’re not flying. It’s a radical new strategy and one that’s proving to be an incredible success. So I really hope you enjoy learning all about it in today’s episode.
Separately, you’ve heard me mention now a few times that we’re actively inviting you to comment, compliment, and question our guests simply by typing your feedback and comments in the show notes, anywhere you’re listening to the show. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, when I read or watch something online or even on YouTube, I really get amazing insights from the comments from other people.
So we are one of the world’s first podcasts to offer listeners the same opportunity. So with all that said, I hope you enjoy listening to Renato Ramos as he shares all about this new product, the world’s first co-branded credit card for an airline alliance.
Paula: So, Renato Ramos, welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Renato: Hello, Paula. It’s a pleasure to be here again. I think last time when we talk, you are celebrating the number 100th, uh, podcast and now hundreds after we are here again and it congratulations for such a successful program.
Paula: you so much. You’re very kind, Renato. Indeed. I don’t think I ever thought I would get to episode 100, but today is episode 327 and as you know, I have a small team as well now as part of Let’s Talk Loyalty. So yes, just a quick shout out to, uh, to Puja and John in the background making this happen for. So lots of change on all fronts, um, including your global, uh, position, location, and, uh, a whole new role and an exciting product that you’ve launched, which we’re gonna talk about today.
But before we get into all of the latest news from Star Alliance, tell us Renato, uh, what is your favorite loyalty program other than your own ?
Renato: Sure. So, uh, I can tell you as a, as a Brazil. I was addicted to Starbucks, uh, to a good coffee. Right? Yeah. And, uh, I, I was even a promoter with my colleagues. He’s like, come on, let’s go to Starbucks to collect stars.
Yeah. I was not even working for star lines at the point, but it was already hunting me . Wow. It was an incredible program because it was, To collect the stars and to redeem, uh, uh, uh, free, uh, drinks. Uh, so I really loved the experience. Everything was mobile. So back then, I don’t know if it’s still the same.
Yeah, I was just sorry that it was not the same in Germany when I lived there. Okay. And here in Singapore? I haven’t tried so far. Okay. But that was my favorite.
Paula: That’s incredible actually because for example, Starbucks here in the UAE has launched, um, now I can’t remember the timeframe, but certainly let’s say within the last 12 months.
Mm-hmm. , I know there is of course, a global imperative for a brand like Starbucks to make sure that that incredible addiction opportunity in the most positive sense. I do actually like that word because obviously that’s, we’re in the business of creating compelling behavior, so, um, so that’s incredible.
Yeah. So that was, uh, yes, quite far ahead in Brazil.
Renato: Yeah. Yeah. That was back in 2013, if I’m not mistaken. Okay. Um, yeah, and I, and I love when you have this, uh, uh, Life changing for, uh, benefits for customer experience. Yeah. Like the use of the mobile app at that point was super nice and made life super easy.
Yeah. And I could mention another one that I heard that, uh, uh, Uber in the us from what I heard, they have this perk that if you were one of frequent, uh, users, your name, whenever you call, uh uh, a Uber driver, , you, you get a, you get ahead in the queue if you are frequent. So that is something, wow, that would definitely make me use the Uber OT program and their services, because that, that would make my life way, way more easier.
So sometimes I say that, uh, less sexier benefits in a sense of marketing awareness, promotion, they really changed the customer life and, and that I believe that is the most effecti. Action for, uh, uh, a loyalty program. Uh, that, that, that’s really exciting.
Paula: Yeah, I think it’s a good criteria. We could develop the, the sexy scale of loyalty programs.
I think that’s super funny, but, but you’re right. Actually, Renato and. . You know, for me, the whole idea of what Starbucks has done, I mean, there’s just so many, um, reasons to love their, their work, um, as loyalty professionals, totally independent of the coffee actually, which is of course getting the basics right in, in industry term.
But from a loyalty perspective, you’re certainly not the first person on this show to mention Starbucks rewards as their favorite. . Um, what has always amazed me in, in the, the research I’ve done on it, and again, from outside, a more mature market, let’s say for Starbucks, um, it was incredible to see this idea of the bank of Starbucks.
I dunno if you’ve ever seen this kind of headline, but the amount of prepayment that, uh, Starbucks manages to convince people to, to pay in. Um, you know, even before subscriptions became popular as loyalty mechanics, Starbucks had us all prepaying for the coffee. Um, and then earning the stars later, but so much cash in advance.
I mean, to me that’s just genius.
Renato: Definitely. Definitely. And I think another aspect that I re that is really impressive is how you have to adapt the program, uh, in a, in a global scale. Yeah. Like, so different target audience for the. Relevant aspect of your, uh, customer journey depending on where you’re, your loyalty program.
So, uh, that’s why it was different, the program that I used to have Brazil than the one that I used to have in Germany. So we have different customers, you have different behaviors, and then you have to adapt Yeah. The features of your loyalty program for your, for your local target audit. So it, you have to have this regional.
Approach, having a global strategy put having a regional approach, and I think that makes a difference as well. For
Paula: sure, for sure. And it’s a, it’s a nice segue into, I suppose first of all, all of the change at Star Alliance. Um, both, I suppose in terms of you personally and of course in terms of what you’ve managed to create with this incredible new, um, alliance, uh, credit cards.
So, very excited to hear about the project particularly, but first of all, it was episode a hundred. It was April, 2021 actually when we, we last had our conversation. And I remember seeing a press release when I was researching for that recording that there was a big announcement that no longer would Frankfurt just be the sole, I suppose, global headquarters for Star Alliance.
But actually there was a new, uh, hub, I guess is the correct term in Singapore. And lo and behold, now I look today, endure already 11 months living in Singapore and. Tell us about the, the strategy in terms of the Singapore hub. So Star
Renato: Alliance is, uh, it was a company established in Germany. Yeah. Uh, and, uh, and, and, and, and then there was a decision to expand, uh, to, uh, to the Asian markets.
One of the fast growing markets for your like, . Um, you have here in Singapore, you have a, uh, a hub for new technologies, uh, for different people from all over Yeah. To exchange knowledge. So, um, it, it, it makes sense to have the second, uh, location. Mm-hmm. , uh, we call it the center of excellence with customer experience with marketing.
Um, and uh, with our digital team located here, we still. the mother company, uh, in Germany. Okay. Uh, with all the corporate services. Okay. Uh, and, and then that and that. So it, that was the second company created Star Alliance Singapore. Mm-hmm. , the Dollar Company of Star Alliance Germany. Yeah. We have another company in France that is, uh, managing the, our LO in South Dego.
Okay. That is a direct company that, that we manage besides. , all the other, uh, uh, lounges branded as star lounges, but this is a little bit different. Yeah. And lastly, uh, we, we just created a star Alliance, Australia. Yeah. Uh, cause of Sydney initiative. Yeah. Um, and, uh, uh, due to the difference in, in what we would.
Have to manage in Australia. Yeah, yeah. Uh, we created a different company. It’s the same reason why we have a company in France, for example, to manage a specific business. Yeah. Or that launch, but that in a different scale in, in Australia, uh, due to what we expect to have there with this credit card.
Paula: Okay, exciting time.
So life in Singapore I know is very nice. Sometimes a little humid, but um, we have some wonderful, uh, members of the audience actually of let’s talk loyalty Renato. So if you ever need to connect with any of the wonderful loyalty professionals in Singapore, I keep saying I need an excuse to come. So maybe we’ll have to have a little loyalty event together in, in Singapore at some point.
Um, Yeah. But, but I like the, the explanation and thank you for that context because it is absolutely right that we need our corporate headquarters and the corporate services, but it’s often been discussed on this show that there’s, you know, equal importance I guess in terms of agility, focus on, you know, innovation and having a little bit of distance, I think from the corporate headquarters does give you almost psychologically I.
You know, an opportunity to think differently and, and to start working on things, um, just with a different mindset. So I don’t know if that’s the case with the, the center of excellence, but just given how digitally advanced, uh, Asia can be in many sectors, I think it’s just must be so exciting for you to be based there now.
Renato: Yeah, I think it’s a good opportunity for sure. Um, and, uh, and, and, and, and besides that, um, uh, having. To a different market, being close to carriers that we were not that physically close before. Right? Yeah, yeah. Uh, Singapore or even our now New New Zealand that now can come with a, a less, uh, a longer, less long flight.
So that was than usual. But, um, but I think, uh, we have our clients, our shareholders, they are everywhere in. Yes. So it’s a challenge for us to be located in, in one, uh, in, in one. So place. Of course, I haves with Chicago, with Toronto, with uh, uh, uh, Panama, uh, with, uh, Auckland and, and everything in between those locations, right?
So time zone is so, is tough, yeah. On us. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and then, and, and then the, the, the beautiful beauty of, of the Alliance is to put them together. , we have to manage time, different time zones. Yeah. Uh, uh, uh, to, to to, to make, to make able to make a conversation, uh, uh, uh, happen. Right. And that’s why sometimes it’s better Yeah.
To have, uh, a trip somewhere where everybody’s in the same time zone to discuss something. And I can say that like the, the difference in having a face-to-face conversation to discuss a problem, uh, to discuss a project. Yeah. We cannot even. And, and that, that was a challenge for Australia. Cause Well, the AGA started before Covid and then it was launched after covid.
So I basically had one meeting in Sydney where we were having the RFT for the bank, the network, and then I had to launch and everything else was online with, with a different participating Paris and with the partners. So that was an extra layer of, uh, challenge. .
Paula: Yeah. Yeah. Super complicated. So listen, let’s get into talking about the project.
As you said, Renato, uh, the idea goes back, um, quite a few years already. So 2017, and kicking off this idea about an airline rewards program, um, for consumers and a world first airline, pardon me, world First Alliance branded credit card. So tell us where did the idea come from? Whose idea was it in the.
Renato: Yeah. So, uh, I, I’m, I, I still, I’m still thrilled for be, have been being Sydney in the last, uh, 14th, uh, 15th of, of November and saying the words, star Alliance is coming to Australia on behalf of Star Alliance, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the Hssbc Star Alliance credit card. Wow. It was, it was incredible.
Uh, this, this story. , this story started in 2017. Mm-hmm. and, and, and the idea came from one of the airlines, ok. That are, are present in Australia. Line out. They had this, uh, idea coming out of, uh, of, uh, brainstorming session with the, with the sales team in Australia. How could they differentiate themselves?
Okay. Uh, this idea was brought. Something that we have in different markets. So a, a commercial steering, uh, council. Okay. And then, um, this group accepted the idea. So we have to just to picture the scenario that we have Yeah. Partners that sometimes compete in the same market. Right. So, uh, that’s why it’s so challenging to make.
Product, uh, to make this idea, uh, to, to, to launch. So, uh, first the commercial, the commercial, uh, agents for the different carriers, they accepted the idea and they started to promote it. That was when in 18, so I, I joined starring 17, so probably this idea started even before I joined star. Okay. I, I joined Star in October 17, and in my first meeting with the heads of loyalty, , uh, it was in San Francisco.
We had a request from our colleagues from New Zealand Yeah. To come and present the idea to the heads of loyalty, to a smaller strategic group that meets more often. Yeah. To discuss the business plan. Yeah. I said, okay, so the, the, the meeting’s gonna be in San Francisco this time. Are you willing to fly?
Like for, I don’t know, one hour? And they said, no, the idea is super good. It got a lot of traction. Okay. I said, tell me more about the. Yeah, so they explain about the credit, uh, a single credit card that could, that, that could issue miles for the different, uh, airlines. So then that, that’s why, uh, I think it’s so connected to the current marketing tagline that I have here together, better connected.
That, uh, together, we, we could be stronger, um, uh, than, uh, to, to make this, uh, one proposition to customers in what we call a non-home market, where we don’t have a local carrier. Of course, uh, of course the challenge is that we don’t have the same network on a standalone basis that is way smaller than the local carrier.
So maybe together to the international traveler, that is where the, the target audience comes. , we could offer something different. And then I say, okay, I’m skeptical about the idea, to be honest, . Yeah. Because we all know how protective we are with our members Yeah. With our loyalty programs. Right. And how we act in, in, in countries that we are not based as well.
So yeah, they are, starline is a group of, of, of, of. That decide to be partnered to each other, but still they are competing still. You have, uh, an Australian, uh, customer that might issue Chris Flyer loyalty program right in row to the Chris Singapore Airlines from, but still could have all the other seven carriers that participate in this program.
So, uh, it’s a, it’s true competition happening. And why would they be willing to have a joint product? It. The, the, the regular process. So that’s why I was skeptical and that’s why I was extremely surprised with the reaction from the carrots. So they said canto, investigate, investigate more, see if there is a business case behind it.
Mm-hmm. And, and then that’s where I got to know a little bit more about our presence in Australia. Yeah. So we. Around 10 million passengers come mm-hmm. Flying Star Alliance in and out of Australia every year. Wow. That, okay. So that’s a super relevant number. Yeah. And out of this 25% they are enrolled with the loyalty programs of the airlines.
They’re flying there. Okay. Okay. So good. So it’s a consistent number, uh, uh, to, to, to offer a credit card. That could enable miles. Yeah. To one single point and then compare to the different, to the different programs. So we started investigating individually with the carriers what are their feelings because they have their, uh, indirect partnerships in the markets as well.
Right. We cannot canalize, we cannot damage their current relationships in place. Yeah. So, uh, we started investigating Italy with each carrier and that’s where I might. I, I appreciate very much the work that these carers have done. Like how are their vision to, uh, to have, uh, to have something different in place and test and see how attractive we could be together?
Mm. Like if, if we wouldn’t have their vision in place, we would never be able to, to launch something like this. Mm. And. And then, uh, when, when we had the, the first meetings, we, we created a business case we saw that, uh, could really be an attractive program. Mm-hmm. , but everybody w was offering, uh, uh, uh, points earned.
So, and, and maybe with even, uh, similar or few, few cards with a better conversion to the local. So how could we be stronger, have, have a stronger position if it’s just for the regular massive, uh, uh, volume of, of local customers, we wouldn’t manage to do so. It’s like, it’s not feasible economically. So we started thinking on breaking a Taboo and which Taboo the Star Alliance got X.
So in all the other, uh, uh, partnerships established around, . Yeah. We have this dog mouth. You have access to Star Alliance both by, yeah. So that is the basis of the loyalty programs. Okay. You have access to the different equivalent star gold levels with all the 25 programs. Mm-hmm. ? Yes. Uh, during, especially during the, the two years covid.
we had the exceptions. So for having everyday relationship with customers. Yeah. Uh, the different loyalty programs could, could consider different types of interaction. Mm-hmm. , uh, but that until then it was, we were, we would, we would never offer, um, uh, status goals for a customer that wouldn’t have the travel.
Okay. And this then, for a single. , uh, that, that we don’t have a home carrier, that all the carriers that are flying there approved. And then that you have this close look Yeah. Of benefits that all the points are converted to this carriers. Uh, uh, uh, we decided that we would offer status gold. Wow. And that, that is a game changer because Yeah.
Nowhere else in the club this is offered. No. Uh, Not money in Australia. Yeah. And then, uh, we would make it possible, but for customer, customers that would travel international would see the benefit of having this, uh, uh, lounge access, priority access everywhere in the globe. And that, that is, that is a hero benefit for sure.
Incredible. Uh, with that, with that c. Yeah, I’ve been, uh, I, uh, together with a team of airlines, uh, to demonstrate that we were talking about an alliance product. I had meetings with the different credit card networks Okay. And with the different banks in Australia. And this was already. Uh, beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic, I even remember traveling without a, a mask.
Yeah. And seeing people with masks and say, oh, but why they’re traveling with mask. And then two months later everything was locked inside. So
Paula: amazing. Yeah. Tough times.
Renato: But that, that, that killer, um, cvp Yeah. Was, uh, was very at. mainly for the credit card networks at first of course. Yeah. Because Australia is a very regulated market.
Okay. You have, uh, restrictions on the interchange fees that are offered so close to what it is in the uk. . Okay. Um, we have a pretty tough market. So then most of the banks, they were trying to develop their own loyalty programs. Yeah. Uh, without, uh, partnerships with, uh, different airlines because then they reduced the cost to operate them.
Yeah. So, uh, they were a little bit more reluctant to have something. Um, and, uh, but the credit card networks, they were, uh, really interested on doing that. Mm-hmm. , that’s. We had, uh, we had the chance to meet with Visa. Okay. And then they were the first ones to believe in our, uh, uh, crazy idea of having the joint, uh, loyalty program credit part.
Yeah. Um, so, uh, having publishing this partnership with Visa Mm. Uh, before Covid Yeah. Uh, and, and having their time with us during Covid. Was super important because this was one of the few projects that never stopped during Covid. Okay. Because of the partnership with. and because of the car’s interests, all the other projects.
So I have other projects that are being launched now as well. Customer validation, uh, with, uh, uh, projects related to, uh, to partner accrual, uh, to all of them. Mm-hmm. were stopped during the pandemic to see, to learn the, how we would come back, but this one we never. And, and one of the reasons because of carrier interest, the other reason is the piece of partnership.
Yeah. At late, at a later stage, uh, we convince, uh, we together with, uh, with HS bbc, I think, uh, those guys are genius. They, they could have the vision as well, uh, of, uh, offering something. Uh, they’re, they’re not be between the, the big four in Australia. Mm-hmm. . So they have to be the challengers as well. Nice.
And they had, they had the vision Yeah. To try to have something different. Yeah. And then, uh, together with them, we could convi convince their, uh, their board. To jump in because that, that is the huge cost for them as well, right? Yeah. Uh, to, to, to create a, a product like this if, if we don’t have the right volume of credit cardholders.
Yeah. So there is a risk for them. There is a risk for Visa, there is a risk for us. Of course. One of the biggest risks was with us to, if we wouldn’t see this true. Yeah. Uh, there would be, uh, uh, consequences for a start with all the resources that we have put on in place. . Uh, but then, uh, then together with, uh, with Visa n hsbc, we could develop the platform.
Mm-hmm. , uh, the platform comes from Ascender, which is, uh, uh, uh, uh, it, uh, digital provider. Yeah. Uh, that, that, that had pretty good job, an excellent job. Uh, they were presented to us by Visa and, uh, and then we, they had. The platform for points exchange. Okay. The platform to, uh, to recognize status based on spending was not there.
Why? Because it was not offered anywhere. Totally.
Paula: New idea. Yeah.
Renato: Crazy. We had to develop from scratch. Wow. And, and, and they, they did a pretty good job connecting with the systems from HSC as well, so it was a huge. , uh, to come to this point and have, uh, having a product there that now in the first month already?
Yeah. We, we could reach the, the, the, the, the, the numbers for the month that were expected for the month. We reached the numbers in 10 days. So it was incredible for this first month without huge. Yeah. But, and that, that’s just so it’s a super. Product. It’s really focused on the customer. Yeah, the international travel.
yeah. To have benefits. So, and then, and then we will have a footprint in Australia with this product, the first loyalty program. Mm-hmm. , which points with generic star alliance points, and I mean generic because they can be convert to any of the seven participant points. Yes. That will never expire. Yes. And you can have access to status.
So that is the, that is the story so far of it. Hopefully, yeah. The success will keep on just going and going and, and, and that would just consolidate our presence in Australia.
Paula: Wonderful. Well, congratulations, Renato. It’s a very inspiring story. As you said. If you’d just said it to me last time, I would’ve been so skeptical as well.
I know you have a job almost like a diplomat, of course, to keep all of the, the star Lions Airlines, you know, really focused in, you know, a single direction, you know, alongside their own individual commercial. So that has always fascinated me about the role that you hold within the alliance. So it’s, um, it’s, it’s a testament to you.
It’s a testament to the airlines and, and I love that you used the word vision because whether it’s the individual carriers, as you said, that we’re willing to, you know, go for something that, you know, challenged a taboo and a dogma about status being available on non-a airline spend. As you were explaining it, I was thinking it probably almost benefited from the, the covid behavior and I guess the need to recognize as airlines that the, you know, the opportunity to connect for people with people between their flights, so that everyday spend and positioning Star Alliance as a program for, you know, a lifestyle, the lifestyle of international travelers.
I think that’s something that, Everybody now is super clear on, they might not have been as clear in 2017. So I’m not sure when the big light bulb went off for everybody about the power of a gold card being able to achieve that, um, using the everyday spend. But certainly if I was in the Australian market, of course, you know, the, the opportunity for that gold status.
Um, is so exciting. Honestly, I, I recently got upgraded elsewhere on a gold card and for me, you know, it really is a different experience and not one I thought I’d be able to achieve. So pretty exciting to hear that you got your one month target within 10 days, and as you said, the vision of Visa, the vision of h s BBC and the vision of all your airlines.
So, yeah, I suppose just have to say congratulations another time because you must be very relieved that it’s finally in.
Renato: Super now, uh, with all the reports, checking on the numbers, uh, promoting the credit card with the marketing strategy, communicating with different channels. Yeah. And the set part, as you said, that I can get one here from Singapore.
It’s a, is a car that is exclusively for Australia, for yeah, Australian residents and I can just have a, a sample card with me, unfortunately not being able to, to use it and to get, get access to all the
Paula: benefits. Well, well listen, um, as we said, we’re recording now in December, um, your one month live. I mean, the obvious question you might not be able to answer, but you know, my curiosity is, you know, is there an opportunity to expand, you know, this concept, this product into other markets around the world?
Do you think, um, again, I’m sure you can’t comment in any detail, but. I would say that the, you know, all of the partners, the airlines as well as obviously the banking partners must be super excited about seeing this. And again, maybe it’s something that you have to say where we don’t have a, you know, a home carrier for example.
There may be, you know, it may be strategically more useful, um, where you, you need that extra u s P. But yeah, would love anything you can say just in terms of your own thoughts.
Renato: Definitely I’ll, I’ll make a parallel to, uh, the corporate strategy for starline and then you can, uh, oh. Anto. Is there any other airline joining Star today or in the next months?
I would say, uh, we are happy with the network that we have, that we have, uh, the biggest network in the world for Alliance. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, but we always invest. , if a new carrier wants to join or if there is a market that we have a wide spot, we always investigate, we always analyze the numbers. Yeah. And see if it didn’t make sense to the other members as well.
Yeah. And I think that is, I see the credit part as, as, as part of, of the corporate strategy for Star Alliance. Mm-hmm. , I think that, that it fits well with the situation of a non-home market. Yeah. And then we have the obligation to study, but. , the card is just, uh, uh, this initiative is just focused in, uh, in Australia.
Never say never, of course, but, uh, yeah, yeah. We have, we have a lot of, a lot of moving pieces to control. Yeah. As I said, we have the different indirect and partnerships of the multiple carriers in the different markets. We have carriers that have their credit cards in our home markets as well. Yeah. Uh, we have, we have many different factors to control and of.
uh, the, the Star Alliance credit card is the shell for the loyalty program. So if it’s not relevant or if it’s conflicting to the loyalty programs of the Alliance, yeah, it doesn’t make sense. Uh, but, uh, I’ll be honest, when I moved here to Singapore, I was just, uh, taking things out of the cabinet and, and, and, and checking what should I bring or not.
And then one, the, the, the marketing VP at that time, he passed by and he. A huge book on top of my dad think, oh, have you seen this? And it, and it was a project that was dated of 2007. Oh. And that was a project called, uh, uh, star Alliance Credit Card. In one market that is not Australia. And I said, okay, so see how, how, how, how people hold wood make really make sense to deliver this project.
Right. Because people thought about this in other markets. Well, but as I said, there are so many moving pieces and different strategies to put together. Right? Yeah. And, and we, we don’t wanna harm any of this current, of course, uh, partnerships that these programs have. , let’s, let’s, let’s focus in Australia.
Yeah. I think it’s super innovative. First time that we created a loyalty program, first time that we created, um, a currency that on expired point. Yeah. And first time that we got it, uh, support from the carers to be facing the customer on their behalf. Yeah. It’s a huge challenge because we have to deliver their customer value proposition.
Mm-hmm. on their behalf. Front part and then handle it back to them for the everyday relationship. So it’s a tough job. Yeah. I hope we can make it. I’m pretty sure that this excellent team that we partner with Visa and with HSBC and the team here and the carers team that. Yeah, do a
Paula: great job. Of course, of course.
And just on a practical level, Renato, my understanding then is uh, the currency is called STAR Alliance points. Correct. Once I spend on the Star Alliance credit card in Australia. Those points go into a central account and then mm-hmm. , when I want to travel and redeem them, I have a choice of seven carriers and essentially then I remember you made the point last time we spoke about looking at where the best value might be, of course, on the redemption side.
and then you make the, the decision to, uh, I suppose convert the points essentially to the carrier for the redemption. So it just gives the, it gives the member, I guess, a lot of control, um, and flexibility because, Sometimes we might not know, you know, even the destination, you know, far in advance when we’re earning the points.
So, of course, to be able to have the flexibility to redeem for any destination, um, at any time and with no expiry, I, I think that’s a wonderful value proposition. Yeah.
Renato: That, that’s quite a point. The points will never expire. Yeah. Only if there, there, there is no activity with the account in a specific time.
Uh, were. Uh, uh, that, that point will be expired, but regularly they will not. Yeah. Um, then you can, you can convert points to participating carrier A participating loyalty program. B. Yeah. Uh, and like in the same day, uh, if you want, but then you can wait to see. Where are you gonna travel? Where is the LO program that will give you the best benefits at that time?
Yeah. Um, and even, and even note there that you can, you can, from any of the loyalty programs, convert to all the 26 airlines. Okay. So a point that is converted to where New Zealand Yeah. Can be redeemed in a flight from Air New Zealand. Mm-hmm. or from a Bianca in the other side of. or to Singapore Airlines, that is even a participating airlines.
So it’s a full flexible program. Yeah. With the, with the other side that completely detached of the point earning process connected to the spending you can have access to go. So if a customer. Reach 60,000 PO dollars. Mm-hmm. , um, uh, in one year. Mm-hmm. , they have access to Star Gold. If they’ve reached 30, they have access to silver and they maintain it throughout the, their, their, their lifetime.
Yeah. But in the first three months mm-hmm. as a welcome gift, that’s a welcome promotion. Mm-hmm. , if they reach 4,000 Aussie dollars mm-hmm. , which for Australian, uh, payment. , it’s super accessible. Okay. They have access to gold. It’s a fast track to gold. Nice. So then, uh, and it’s completely separate. . So the process for earning and converting points.
Mm-hmm. , you select one of the airlines that are participating mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And then we call it status Airline. And then if you reach the, the, the spanning threshold mm-hmm. , you, you have access to gold with this airline for one year. Yeah. And then you can change in the next years, keeping the flexibility for the customer for the future.
So if you are traveling, if you’re working for a company in country, a, then it, it makes more sense for. to travel with airline A and then you move and you start working for a company in Country B. Yeah. That has the headquarters in country B, and then you have to travel with a different company from the Alliance.
You have this differential, so you can, you can shift between the different airlines and keep loyalty. Star or if they’re different loyalty programs.
Paula: Yeah. Yeah. And what I do love about the fact that this is for Australian consumers is, I guess the maturity and the, the understanding of consumers in the Australian market.
And, and I loved the figure you quoted earlier, Renato of 10 million, uh, passengers traveling internationally in and out of Australia. Because again, the, the whole. Is so mature, so well established. And loyalty is such a mature business that, you know, it could be assumed, you know, for those of us overseas that that’s all for domestic travel, for example.
But, uh, some of the research that I know H s BBC did in terms of your product development, I thought was fascinating as well. And I’ve never. Particularly this question asked, but I thought it was brilliant that they, they got the result that one in four people said they would pay with credit card rewards and points for their travel.
So to me that’s a very high percentage. And of course, the intention to travel is super high as well, 69%. So really shows, um, a, a strong recovery and an understanding of the power of their behavior to get the loyalty benefits, and I think they call it the tips and tricks. To make sure that they can use their love of, you know, travel, which to me, the Australian culture is, is inherently connected to global travel.
Like it’s just something Australians seem to, to love to do even more than any other nationality I could think of. Correct.
Renato: It’s a lovely country. Uh, and, uh, and also in this, in this survey, uh, hsbc, uh, could find. , uh, Australians that are planning to travel overseas. Yeah. In the next 12 months, they expand to spend average 7,000 Aussie dollars.
Yeah. So compared to what we just said, so if we’re talking to the international traveler, yeah. This card is super connected, but it was surprising we had a customer survey before launch. Yeah. And 71% of the customers that, uh, that answer that I. They were willing to change their credit card to this one.
Wow. I had never seen that results . And that was just to confirm, I think we were in the last miles Yeah. Where all the contracts were being signed and all the le the efforts to connect, like people working late, uh, working in different time zones. It was like the last, uh, uh, uh, uh, I dunno, incentive to go through it.
Yeah. And then there was just a confirmation of what we’re with what we were being. Launch. Right. So that was, that came in the right time. confirmation of
Paula: the cvp. Oh my goodness. Wow. Well, listen, Renato, um, it’s, it’s a huge success story. I’m super pleased to hear what you’ve been working on in hiding there in Singapore for the last, uh, year and a half since we spoke.
That’s all the questions I have from my side. Is there anything else that you think, uh, we need to talk about today, Renato, before we wrap? , uh,
Renato: I would just share something. Uh, when I visited the, our local team office in Australia, the supporting company that we hired, it’s called Ellipses. I found out that they kept one, uh, dma.
Do, have you heard about this story of the, the, the Japanese dolls? So you have, you have this, the adult that you paint one. when you have a big challenge in your life Okay. To, uh, to achieve. And then you leave one eye, not painted. Uh, and, and then you just paint the other eye when you achieve the, when you achieve the, the, the, the objective that you had.
Right. Okay. And then you see that this is project from the project Orion, and we painted the other eye in the end. Wow. And it was for me, I, I knew this story before. Colleague told me once, and for me it was magical to paint the other eye of the Japanese store there in Australia when we, when we were about to launch the credit card.
So it, it has been a, a pretty intense journey. Mm-hmm. , I think, uh, it was, it was a relief and a milestone for me and for everybody that, that contributed to this. I. I appreciate and I am ready to do it for all their efforts. I think without them, we wouldn’t, may have made it. And uh, yeah. Thank you for the opportunity of telling this, the back background of this, of this project and, uh, yeah.
Thank you for, for this. It was incredible.
Paula: Wonderful. Yes. And we’re, we’re also great friends with the guys in ellipses, so delighted to hear they were also involved along your journey. Um, the other thing that I should mention actually, is that we have a new way for people listening to our show to, to make a comment or a compliment or a question.
So if it’s okay with you, Renato, we’ll just include a link in the show notes. So that anybody who’s listening who wants to maybe chat with us or with you about this discussion and give us any perspective, um, I think that would just be super nice. So is that okay with you if we include that in the overall show notes?
Renato: Definitely. Happy to connect, happy to talk about it. Happy to talk about Australia, about loyalty. I am a loyalty, a fiction, so I’m happy to connect and talk about it and come to s. . We can have, we can have a coffee, you and anyone else. We can have a coffee. Yeah. Or even a Singapore is Link . That is a local link.
Yes. I’m l I’m still learning. I’m still learning my, my ways around here. But uh, yeah, I invite everyone to come.
Paula: Wonderful. Great, and we’ll obviously make sure to link to your LinkedIn profile as well, Renato in the show notes so people can reach out directly, especially if like me, they’re hoping to get to, uh, Singapore sometime soon.
So with all of that said, I want to say Renato Ramos, Managing Director of Star Alliance Australia. And of course, Director of Loyalty for the Star Alliance globally. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Renato: Thank you, Paula.
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