Audio Transcript

#193: Asia Miles Insights from Cathay Pacific Airways (Short Summary Show) (7m)
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.
Hello, and welcome to episode 193 of Let’s Talk Loyalty where I’m looking back on my first interview in late 2020 with Paul Smitten, who was already the CEO of Asia miles with Cathay Pacific Airways. Now for those avid listeners of our show, you might remember that I spoke with Paul for a second time, just a few short weeks ago.
So for me, it was really useful to be going back to our first conversation again today, Paul has a very long history working with the airline loyalty programs from his baptism of fire, where he built Air New Zealand’s first loyalty program back in 1991, through an impressive career in senior roles in both airline and loyalty technology firms, Paul is continuing to create compelling concepts for the Asia Miles program. Now at the time of this interview, Asia Miles had recently changed its mileage redemption policy.
1m 31s
What had been a fixed life three-year expiration structure was upgraded to an activity-based model in January of 2020 giving members the opportunity to keep and use their miles as long as they were active in the program in some way, at least within 18 months, as well as being a great improvement for consumers. The timing was really lucky for Cathay themselves, given that the global pandemic emerged very soon afterwards, furthermore, a massive digitization program had been launched in late 2019 part of Cathay’s plan to be prepared for anything, even as it turned out something as dramatic and unexpected as the COVID-19 pandemic in talking with some of my own friends in the airline industry, there is always a business continuity plan in place with airlines, but they seem to be usually designed to manage aircraft or airline safety issues.
2m 38s
So for Cathay to be prepared for something so much bigger on a global scale proved to be extremely useful. And it showcases how forward thinking cafe is as a business. And they were certainly prepared in a way that most of us were not. When we talked about poles approach to the loyalty strategy for Cathay Pacific, he had already been quoted as saying that loyalty is instead, you just have to earn a dish. And I certainly agree that consumers understand our loyalty industry a lot more than we often give them credit for. They certainly know their data has value and they expect to be compensated for us.
3m 24s
Paul emphasized that today’s consumers, especially younger demographics have high expectations for a compelling value exchange brands absolutely must know how to make each member feel that the exchange is worth their time and attention. So it’s essential to offer aspirational rewards and an easy redemption process with 90% of their reward redemptions taking place online, Asia Awards certainly was already delivering for its members on those important aspects. In terms of communication innovations at Asia miles, Paul introduced me to Samantha, the Asia miles chatbots who leads their first line of customer service.
4m 14s
When customers either can’t find what they’re looking for, or they need the next level of communication, they can also reach Asia Miles through WhatsApp. As many of you know, I love the growing use of WhatsApp by brands. And I really think this is something we will see a lot more of in the future. Personally, I trust WhatsApp and use it religiously. I think it’s an easy tool that really meets consumers, where they already are. And I hope to see more brands taking advantage of it, to communicate with their membership base. I enjoyed this interview so much. They invited Paul back to join us again last month.
4m 57s
So today I want to encourage you to listen to the first episode at And then our more recent discussion, which is Lets Talk And lastly, this really is a week of airline loyalty. So invite you to join me again tomorrow when I’m chatting with Derek Whitworth from air Canada, and then again on Thursday with Andrea Burchette from Virgin red. Thanks so much for listening to today’s short summary, and I hope you’ll continue to listen and learn every Tuesday, every Wednesday and every Thursday.
5m 43s
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 245 executives in 27 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out and
6m 24s
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