Cathay Pacific Loyalty Rewards: Updates to the Airline's Loyalty Positioning and Proposition (#513)

This episode is available in audio as a podcast and in video format on Loyalty TV.

Today we learn the latest loyalty and lifestyle propositions from the Cathay Pacific Group, with Paul Smitton joining us once again from Hong Kong.

Listen to learn how the positioning and proposition for the Cathay Pacific loyalty scheme has evolved, and the role of Asia Miles now as its currency (rather than its programme name).

Paul also shares some insights into some of the airline’s most recent developments in the Chinese market.

Show Notes:

1) Paul Smitton⁠

2) Cathay Pacific Group

3) Asia Miles

4) Watch the full interview episode at www.Loyalty.TV

Audio Transcript

Paula: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. As most of you probably know, airline loyalty programs are often my favorite conversations. I also love to learn about inspiring or innovative propositions in interesting global markets. And today’s episode is a mix of all three.

Paul Smitton leads the loyalty and lifestyle propositions for the Cathay Pacific Group. And he joins us once again today from Hong Kong to share how their strategies have evolved since we last spoke together with him in 2022. I hope you enjoy learning all about the Cathay. Pacific loyalty scheme. The positioning and proposition for the membership program from Cathay Pacific and the role of Asia Miles as its currency.

We also get some insights into some of the airline’s most recent developments in the Chinese market. I hope you enjoy this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. And please do subscribe to our channel on YouTube. It really helps our visibility. 

Paul Smitton, welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty and welcome to Loyalty TV. 

Paul: Thank you, Paula. It’s a delight to be back on the show. Look forward to our conversation. 

Paula: Indeed, I think I said to you off air that you’re one of the illustrious small group that’s coming back on the show for a third time, Paul, so I feel it’s long overdue. We’ve loads to talk about and it’s very exciting to have you back. 

Paul: Thank you. Yeah, it’s good to be back. I’m honored to be one of your illustrious few that have been on three times. I hope I don’t disappoint. 

Paula: Oh, not at all, Paul. Great stuff. So listen, a lot has changed, both in terms of Asia Miles, of course, Cathay Pacific, and everything that’s going on witCathay Pacifich the work that you’re doing.

So before we get into the whole program and the platform and everything that you’ve been working on, as you know, our current favorite question to start these episodes is to ask you exactly what is your current favorite loyalty program, Paul? So please tell us. 

Paul: Look, it’s a great question. And I gave a lot of thought actually, but before, so for me, the one I would like to land on is Marriott Bonvoy. And why I like that program is because I feel as a frequent guest they, they’re doing a really, really good job to you know, simple digital experience. Really help drive behavioral loyalty inside their business, as well with the way it works. 

And for me, I just think about as a loyalty professional you’re sort of tuned into all the tips and tricks, right? And so you can be a little bit immune to them, but I find myself being pulled in with the tips and tricks. And so that’s a side to me that it’s a program that’s been designed well, that, you know, and I find myself changing my behavior and trying to stay at Marriott properties more often because I, you know, I like the whole program design and proposition. So yeah that for me is the one. 

Paula: Yeah. Brilliant. Yeah. 

Paul: I wasn’t…

Paula: Sorry, Paul. So we’re talking over you. But what comes to mind is for sure. I’m a very recent Marriott Bonvoy co-brand credit card holder. But not only am I changing my own behavior, I’m also changing my husband’s behavior. So I mean, honestly, as soon as I saw what I think Bonvoy does particularly well, Paul, is they have a very clear, obviously onboarding proposition, but it’s very tangible.

So my favorite hotel here in the UAE is quite an expensive place to stay. And if you do take the co brand card, you get two nights there. So to me, that’s absolutely on my wishlist for 2024. So well done to Marriott Bonvoy. We’re dying to have them on Loyalty TV. So if anybody listening works for Marriott Bonvoy, of course, do get in touch. And we’d love to have that conversation. 

So let’s get back to Asia Miles, Paul. As we said, it’s been, I think, February 2022 when you were last on the show. I know a huge amount has changed in that time. So why don’t you just kick us off with where are you now with the Asia Miles program? 

Paul: So look it’s, yeah, as you say, February 22. And I think, I think back to February 2022, it was, we were still right in the midst or nearing the end of the pandemic. And so, and for Cathay Pacific, we were one of the the hardest hit airlines because we don’t fly domestic routes. We only fly international routes and Hong Kong had a very strict quarantine and, you know, process around trying to prevent the pandemic from spreading. So it meant that we were not offline, but we were severely limited for a long period of time. And in the last 12 months, we’ve really accelerated that out of that period, which has been great. 

But during the pandemic and there’s that saying, don’t waste a crisis. Right. And We took the chance to make quite a few changes to simplify. So pre pandemic we had or during the pandemic, we had the Asia Miles program and the Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club. It’s one of the, one of the things that was a hard decision to make, but there was, a lot of good things to like about having those two different brands and a lot of affinity with Marco Polo Club. But actually it also created a lot of complication and unnecessary confusion for customers. You know, which program should I join? And so it was a big question. And so we tried to simplify our proposition and centered around our brand. 

So our program is now simply called Cafe. And so you join the Cafe membership program. And that’s it. So you don’t have to join Asia Miles. You don’t join Marco Polo Club. You just join the Cafe membership program. So that’s really clear. It’s anchored on our master brand. And then as a member. You earn Asia miles, right? So the currency is, it’s still there. It’s 25 years old now. It’s a really well loved currency. And so, so that, that was the, that was probably the biggest single change we made was to simplify our program and anchored around the Cafe master brand which I, you know, for me has been a real big success. 

I think the biggest challenge when you make a change when you’re in a very slow period like that, is your brand is less, less relevant because you’re less visible. People aren’t interacting with you as much. And so I guess in the last 12 months we’ve had to sort of continue that education job to make people make sure they understand the changes that we’ve made. And I think we’re quite a long way down that path now. People understand what we’ve done. And it’s about simplification and anchoring on the master brand. 

Paula: You know, it’s music to my ears, Paul, because I do think as loyalty professionals, we have so many, I suppose, sometimes conflicting agendas, you know, it’s like absolutely what the customer needs, also what the business needs, and it ends up bringing complexity into what we take to market.

So, I think there really is an important lesson, actually, in what you’ve done to sometimes just go back to the basics, back to the fundamentals. And my understanding, if I’m not mistaken, Paul, was Marco Polo at the time was essentially the elite status part of the frequent flyer program. And then Asia Miles was the currency.

So I guess, you know, given, I suppose, again, global trends, it does make sense for them to sit, as you said, under one program, the single Cafe master brand that people know and love, and then they get their miles and they get their status as appropriate. 

Paul: Correct. Yes, exactly. Right. You’ve summed it up beautifully. And in fact, it was even more complicated before because Marco Polo Club had a joining fee. It wasn’t a free program. So status came with a price tag essentially. 

Paula: Okay.

Paul: And so you’d have customers who were accumulating. Asia Miles as an Asia miles member from their credit card spend and their flight activity, but they may not have been earning status. So we had the situation where someone might be building up quite a bit of miles from their flying, but not earning any status and then wondering why they’re not getting recognition. And that’s because we created this extra layer of complexity. And I think, you know, at the time, I’m not going to criticize my predecessors, but at the time that the logic was reward and recognition are two different things.

So let’s have two different programs, one for reward, one for recognition. And so that was the epiphany around the design before but I think, again, it’s one of those things where you can be a bit too clever and maybe simplification is better to respect customers time and make it easy for them to understand.

Paula: Brilliant. Brilliant. So you also casually mentioned 25 years old Paul. So tell us and take us back. I think you said it was February, 1999. We’re recording now in February, 2024. So 25 years. What did you guys do to mark the big milestone? 

Paul: Ah, look, it’s, it was interesting. We decided not to make a big song and dance about the birthday. What we are doing though is to have a number of marketing campaigns plan throughout the year. So we decided to sort of take a whole way rather than wasting just you know, a marketing promotion on one day. We try to spread it throughout the year. So it’s our 25th birthday year. So there’ll be a number of things that we do throughout the year.

It also coincides a little bit of loyalty history. There used to be a program called Passages that we, that we participated in. And so the 25th birthday of Asia Miles also coincides with the 25th birthday of One World. And so when the One World Alliance came about and Cathay, they obviously joined. That alliance we some of the old alliances had to change. 

And so the passengers program was, you know, Singapore Airlines, Cafe and others. And so that, that program didn’t make any, make sense anymore. And so we we launched Asia miles at that time. So look that’s just another little bit of history. We started to celebrate the one more birthday on the day and then focus on the 25 years of the currency throughout the year. 

Paula: Incredible. And actually, I don’t know if I said to you last time, Paul, when we were talking, but I was responsible for the British Airways communications for the launch of One World here in the Middle East region. I can’t believe it back in 1999. So feeling very old, but actually very proud. One World was so innovative when it was created. 

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. And I think still is. It’s doing a good job. It’s very relevant. I think partnerships are really important. And so, you know, that connected customer experience that it creates is crucial to what we do.

Paula: Incredible. From a membership perspective, Paul, can you share any numbers in terms of what the cafe membership is or is that top secret or I’d love to get a sense of the scale or the growth that you guys are going through? 

Paul: Yeah. So we’ve, we don’t talk about the active numbers that we have or the total numbers that we have. So we also went through some changes as you might expect through the pandemic. And so that’s it’s in transition but it’s been growing incredibly. So what I can say is the last 12 months, our membership has increased more than it’s increased at any time in its history. And that’s, yeah, so it’s good to simplify the program. I’m making it easier. It’s been important. 

We also from a digital experience point of view spent quite a bit of time making it easy to enroll. So we call it our simplified enrollment form. So it’s a basically much less in terms of time, it takes to sign up and join and get going by just removing friction. I’m a big fan of the conversion formula.

Paula: Yes.

Paul: Of you know, products and desire of consumers and remove anxiety, remove friction and then you get conversion. So trying to sort of simplify our proposition as being what that’s all about. 

And so the other thing we’re trying to do is get more of our passengers to become members. So we’re really working hard to to some of the KPIs I track how many of our passengers are members. And, you know, really try to work to get more known end customers on the plane, because the more we know about them, the more we can understand them better and personalize the relationship. So that’s the other key metric. 

Paula: I love that. Actually, it’s something that actually comes up much more, which you believe in conversations with retail loyalty practitioners, Paul, I think you’re the first airline person to actually say that is a specific objective. And of course, there’s so many objectives with loyalty programs in airlines. And I know, like everyone else, you’re keen to be part of lifestyle, I suppose, for your members. But I do think that penetration number is very significant. Wonderful to hear that you’ve taken that as something that’s a top priority for you.

Paul: Yes. And it’s interesting too, you mentioned retailers. We actually talk about being one of the world’s greatest service brands. That’s our ambition to become one of the world’s greatest service brands. And so when we, and we don’t talk about Becoming one of the world’s greatest airlines it’s service brands.

And so we do take notice of what retailers are doing, what other industries are doing as well. So, so it isn’t necessarily you know, what an airline might do. It might be what others do that pays more attention to. So knowing customers, as you say, is an important metric in the retail sector. And so that’s an important metric to us as well. Yeah, we can see some real benefits from growing that number as well. So starting to see a difference between a knowing customer and an unknowing customer is quite, quite material. 

Paula: For sure. 

Paul: So it’s really useful. 

Paula: Yeah, incredible. And I know partnerships is something that you value very strongly, Paul. And again co brands is always, you know, a key part of that overall portfolio. I’ve seen you’ve been very busy on LinkedIn talking about some some very significant work on the co brand space, would you tell us what you’ve been doing for the whole co brand proposition? 

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. So another thing, again, another pandemic related activity was I took the chance to look at our credit card portfolio. And we have a whole range of conversion card relationships, many, many conversion card relationships, and that’s fine. But for the co brand space, we’re trying to pick a co brand card partner in a geography.

And what we’ve done is we’ve actually created the look and feel of the card ourselves. So that in-house design team built a Cafe mastercard card and what we’re trying to do is get issuers in different markets to take that card. So in the Hong Kong market, we have a relationship with Standard Chartered Bank China, with Citibank in the US market with Synchrony and the one we just launched a few weeks ago was in Vancouver is with Neo and Fintech in the Canadian market. And so when you see those cards, they all have the same design. So they’re all Cafe Mastercards with the same green background and the same the brush wing Cafe Mastercard. Look and feel. 

So I think what that does is what we’re trying to say is, as a customer, you know, fly with us and spend with us have these two products. It really makes sense. You’ll accumulate more miles more quickly. You’ve got to get to those rewards more that you want more quickly. And the affinity of having, the same look and feel means that it’s a clearer, single minded, simple proposition, right, rather than, you know, a whole, you know, range of different cards that all look very different. They don’t look like they’re part of the same family. You want to try and simplify and make it much more consistent. And that’s what that’s been about. 

Paula: Beautiful. 

Paul: So actually when you fly in flight, you will see an ad on in flight entertainment and in the magazine or the Cafe MasterCard. And then all the different issuers are listed. That’s it. So we can have one kind of ad talking about that product, right? And different issuers and different geographies, just again, that simplification. 

Paula: Yeah, and I can imagine from a crew perspective, Paul, you know, just to have again, that global brand vision, that global brand identity, it just makes everybody feel, I suppose, so much more like part of a Cafe community.

Paul: Yes.

Paula: And I always have that sense, actually, when I hear you speaking, because. You of all people, I think take the customer perspective very, I suppose, close to your heart. So yes, you’ve got a P&L, but I think you really have that, that, that overall kind of idea that we have to love our customers and do whatever’s right. So the things that you talk about in terms of removing friction. So I feel that simplification is just very important to recognize for the whole community to feel like they belong together. 

Paul: 100 percent Paula. And, you know, I also in part of my room that I also look after the digital customer experience for the business. So all the websites and apps that we offer. So, you know, in the digital experience space, it’s been a lot of time with the team, you know, doing things like customer journey mapping, trying to understand you know, when are they in discovery mode, thinking about travel and destinations, when are they in a purchase mode, when are they in a service mode. And all of those different interaction points, try and put the customer at the center understand them and make it easy for them. That’s a really important part of it. 

And going back to what you said about the crew, yeah we’re really big believer in you know, happy people, happy stuff creates happy customers as well. So again, the more we can simplify the proposition, make it easy for our teams you know, they understand the product better and hopefully they can do a better job of communicating it to customers as well.

Paula: Yeah, I’m glad you brought up the the digital experience, Paul. First of all, you’ve reminded me of something from our last conversation again, even though it was two years ago, but I saw it again on your website and the simplicity of it is again, quite unique on the Cathay website because I haven’t seen it elsewhere and it’s the WhatsApp icon, the fact that I can literally directly message you as an airline it’s just, I know it’s been there. Cause as I said, I remember from our conversation in 2022, how’s that going as a channel for you? 

Paul: Yes. Very good. It’s very good. Absolutely great. Actually. And we have like a pyramid, right? We want to try and have the simpler conversations dealt with things like chatbots and live chat.

And WhatsApp or, you know, we use other channels too. So WeChat line other apps as well in different geographies, because WhatsApp isn’t everywhere. And so that’s useful. And I think the insight there is let’s save our customer service teams for the hardest stuff. And so that when the customer really needs to speak to someone don’t make it hard for them to get to that person. Make them have their time freed up to deal with those more complicated issues. So we spent a lot of time looking at the lost call rates, average, you know, called waiting time, those sort of important metrics as well. And by, yeah, getting the simple stuff handled through those other channels is better.

We also are now using AI quite extensively as well. So, again, you know in the digital experience world, you’ve got to make sure that your website has up to date content, that there’s no contradicting information on your own website, and  especially in an AI world, because the AI needs to get the answer from somewhere. And so if your website has contradicting it, it sounds like a silly thing to say, but in a complicated website, you can have a lot of information and lots of different places. And sometimes there are things that may be slightly contradicting or confusing. And so the AI can get it terribly wrong.

If they, if the source information isn’t a hundred percent, right. So we’re spending time just making sure that those sorts of things really work well, again, removing friction, making it easy for customers and being digital is really key. 

Paula: Yeah. And would you say is the AI exclusively within a customer service context, Paul, or have you started to look at it for anything to do with loyalty or any of the other propositions? Or again, maybe that’s top secret, but given that it is the topic du jour, I feel like I have to at least ask. 

Paul: Yeah, look, we’ve been using it for mainly things like customer queries at a you know, simple customer queries at this stage. We do, as a business we do have check GPT available to us to use. So we are, Yeah, we are exploring and Microsoft have got a partnership already right with Chat GPT. So that’s embedded in all the office applications. So look, I think it’s still early days. But over time, I’m sure it will come into our daily lives much, much more, but we’re still at the early stage, I’d say.

Paula: Yeah. I actually had great fun and genuinely it’s the first time I really enjoyed using Chat GPT myself yesterday. Somebody suggested a prompt, which of course is helpful. I didn’t have to work out the prompt, but you know, from a business perspective, there was a prompt of, if you want to imagine where your business might be, for example, if you were to 10X your performance. Here’s a prompt to put it into Chat GPT. 

And it was actually mind blowing because it actually sat down and wrote a press release for me of what my business would look like if I was announcing growth of 10 fold this time next year. So I just really, I suppose for the first time appreciated that this is something that, you know, I can use as a lever to inspire me and educate me, even though I’m feeding it the problem, let’s say. So I guess that’s what you guys are doing as well. Just kind of seeing where it can go. 

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I think Bill Gates said recently that it was, you know, a bigger revolution than the mobile phone. So I think that to give it an idea, we know how big the mobile has been, but hard to imagine, but it’s going to get pretty crazy.

Paula: I’m sure it is. And I keep thinking, I bet you there’s some like killer use case that I really should be able to see. And I just haven’t figured out yet, but I guess there’s a lot of clever people thinking about those kinds of things. So I’m pretty sure the next time we have a conversation though, she’ll be some killer apps there that we will have seen evolving in the meantime.

But the the other cool channel I really wanted to talk about today, Paul, cause you put a post up on LinkedIn, I think it might’ve been two or three months ago, but given your, I suppose, you know, roots into China, of course a huge amount of business that you guys are doing there. And I saw that you have been doing some, maybe I’ll call it experimenting. You can correct me if that’s wrong, but using Tik Tok, or I don’t know the Chinese name, Paul, you’ll have to forgive me, but the channels in China feel very different. Of course for any digital interaction, not just for loyalty, but it looked like you were on like a QVC shopping channel and promoting cafe merchandise.

And I think I just I think I had a missed calling where I would’ve been, I’d have loved to have been a QVC presenter, so I was so amused. So tell us what you’ve been doing on the live streaming. 

Paul: Yes. So yeah, you’re spot on. I mean, TikTok yeah, same logo, but in China it’s called Douyin.

Paula: Douyin.

Paul: And so, and it’s obviously, it’s a Chinese company. And so in the Chinese mainland, it’s a very prevalent channel. A lot of brands use. Douyin and others as well, like it for e-commerce. And so, yeah, look, it’s for us. It’s about trying to be relevant in the, in different markets around the world and in, in the Chinese mainland. That’s a really important channel. And so we, it was exactly an example of experimentation. We are still doing it. It’s not, wasn’t a one off. It’s something that we continuing to do. 

And so I won’t be presenting that’s clearly not the right solution. Not the greatest use of my time all the time, but it was a good way to you know, give it that sort of kick. Pick off and launch. And yeah, a lot of fun too. So, and we, yeah we saw some interesting results, you know, and I think what we learned from it was really, really useful. So we’re just going to keep refining the model and trying to make it as effective as possible. 

And so we have a a range of cafe branded merchandise. And so that, that was what we were focusing in on in, in that in the Chinese mainland. And for us, it’s about having something for the Cafe brand that goes beyond travel. You know, it’s this premium travel lifestyle brand is the positioning. And so the more we can have products that are you know, aligned with a premium travel lifestyle, master brand, you know, the better it helps us drive that that engagement. 

Paula: And just from a practical point of view, and again, just being selfish here, Paul, like, how does it work in practice? Is it something that you pre announced to the community?

Because I don’t actually use TikTok myself. I’m terrified I would be too addicted. So, so I’m genuinely trying to minimize my social media engagement. But given I suppose the adoption of any platform, particularly live streaming in China, I’m Is it something that can be, is being run, I suppose, on a continuous cycle, or is it like a TV show where it’s announced, scheduled, and then there’s hosts at particular times? Just, I’d love to understand how the practicalities work of it. 

Paul: Yeah, look, so, I mean, it’s literally just a, in a studio, filmed in a studio not unlike how we’re talking now. And the products are available for sale. So there’s, it’s, there’s the e-commerce capability. You click through your purchase. We do, we schedule it and it runs. So the one that I was involved in was over three hours. So there was a range of different presenters cycling through in that time. And so people can tune in and tune out in the same way. You wouldn’t expect someone to sit down for three hours and watch the whole live stream. Okay. But they can tune in and tune out and that’s what you see. So you see the numbers coming through. You see the engagement, the, you know, the likes, the comments coming through. Yeah, it’s really interesting really fascinating way to engage. Yeah. So and you’re right to the Chinese ecosystems a little bit different too.

So you have to, we sort of have to have a, we have to have quite a different approach in that market as well to what we might do in other markets. And so, you know, the other big thing is you know, WeChat and the and WeChat, you, you have these, what are called mini programs. So basically, it’s a little mini app within WeChat that allows you to create engagement around different areas. So, yeah that’s something that’s very important in the Chinese mainland to engage with Chinese consumers. So we have, you have to, you can’t apply a one size fits all approach. You have to be a little bit different in that market.

Paula: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s wonderful. We don’t actually, we, you know, we haven’t had, you know, much insights from China from a loyalty perspective, Paul. So really is intriguing. I mean, I’ve heard of course, of WeChat and the mini apps essentially. And how that ecosystem allows brands, I suppose, real ownership, but also without having to ask consumers to go and download a branded app, which of course the rest of us in the rest of the world have to do, but I think China really did nail it by putting everything in one place and it’s just so seamless.

Paul: Yes, it is. It’s a really incredible place. You know, I spent a lot of time in the Chinese mainland and it’s a technology, technologically advanced you know, it to a quite an incredible level. So if you haven’t spent any time there, I haven’t been there recently. You’ll be prepared to be quite amazed when you do go. It’s pretty slick. 

Paula: Yeah, for sure. I do feel like again as marketing professionals, nevermind loyalty marketing professionals, I would dearly love to spend some time there, you know, and really get an understanding of the opportunities similar, I suppose, even to India as well, Paul, for example, you know, it seems every street stall in India now has QR codes, direct payments.

They have leapfrogged their technology. And it’s one of the things I love about doing this show is that we can showcase perhaps in markets that might be traditionally considered more mature, maybe Western markets. And actually, when we look to the East, we suddenly see there’s a much better customer experience because it’s been done from a totally different way.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, right now, one of the things that happened during the pandemic was cash just about disappeared, you know, as a physical currency. Everyone uses digital payments now. And recently international credit cards can be, can now be added to Alipay and WeChat pay.

Paula: Oh, interesting.

Paul: Whereas it wasn’t that straightforward before you needed to have a domestic Chinese mainland card. Now you can add a your international card to see that’s something that is for travelers. You really need to get those apps, get WeChat, get Alipay downloaded before you leave your card linked because you need them to be able to operate in the Chinese mainland. 

Paula: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And even again in a retail environment here, Paul, I don’t know if you’ve been to Dubai recently, but certainly all of the malls would have all of the signage. Not only in English and Arabic, but also now in Chinese. So the global influence of course, of what’s happening in the Chinese market is just something that I feel like there is a real lack of knowledge around. So hopefully you’ll keep your eyes and ears open and keep us posted on it. 

Paul: Yep, absolutely. We’ll try to do so, Paula. 

Paula: Fantastic. So listen, I think we’ve covered everything that I wanted to ask you about the latest updates for Cathay membership, as it’s obviously now known the Asia Miles currency and how loyalty is going overall for Cathay Pacific. So have I missed any big important topics, anything else either you’ve started doing or stopped doing that you think our global audience should be aware of? 

Paul: Yeah, look, I think maybe the one thing I wouldn’t mind just briefly touching on was, you know, I mentioned the digital customer experience before customer journey mapping is a big part of it being we want to be one of the world’s greatest service brands and that’s going to be achieved by being very customer centric.

So we’ve done a lot of work. We’ve done market segmentation. We’ve looked at all our different customers again and try to understand who they are, what’s important to them. And then really design the digital product. And the physical products around those needs so that it’s very relevant to those different customer groups.

And then it’s about all the things that we can engage with them on. So if you’ve bought a plane ticket, What’s the next most logical companion product? It’s probably going to be travel insurance, or it’s probably going to be a hotel or a rental car. How do we make sure that companion product is the right product for you? So if we know, you know, what hotels you like to stay at, we knew that one in Dubai, you mentioned that you really love. For example, if we had an offer for that hotel, that’s going to be great for you because you’ve just bought the flight and we’ve just told you here’s a hotel that you might like.

And that’s just taking friction away from the customer journey, right? How do we make it easy for people to interact? So that’s a real focus and something that I’ve been spending a lot of time on is we’ve signed up a partnership with Chubb for travel insurance. So embedded travel insurance, we know 98 percent of our passengers buy travel insurance. They don’t always buy it from us. Through the pandemic, more people buy travel insurance than ever before. And so again, yeah, it’s about trying to make it easy for customers. It’s make sure we’ve got a really good product that is relevant. It’s, they can buy and that they can trust is going to be there when they need it.

And that, so that for me is the big focus, customer journey mapping and looking at, you know, in the purchase flow, what are the things that we should be, should offering to the customer to make their experience better and more straightforward. And of course, from us, from a loyalty program perspective, the deeper and wider you go, the more engagement you get and the more long term loyalty you get as well. So that’s really, really why you want to do it as well as a business. 

Paula: Yeah. Yeah. Incredible. Well, Paul, it sounds like you have nailed so many things. And again, I remember you saying, don’t waste a good pandemic. And even at the time, I remember you were the only person who seemed to have had actually a preexisting plan for a crisis of that scale. So again, lots of groundwork has been done in the, how many years now are you working with the Cathay Group? 

Paul: Gosh six years. So it’s, yeah, it’s added up pretty quickly, but yes, six years. 

Paula: Incredible. Wonderful. Great. Well, listen, Paul, as I said, that’s all of the questions that I have today. I’m a huge fan of your work and what you’re doing. And I feel long overdue a trip to Hong Kong myself, so I’m going to set the intention, but please God, I’ll be able to pop over and visit you at some stage. 

But with all of that said, I want to say a huge thank you. And we’re going to make sure to link to your obviously program and profile in the show notes, if anybody wants to reach out and connect with you. So with all of that said.

Paul: By all means.

Paula: Yeah, that’s really generous of you. Thank you so much. So Paul Smitten, CEO and Managing Director of Asia Miles limited. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. 

Paul: Thank you, Paula. Goodbye. 

Paula: This show is sponsored by Wise Marketer Group, publisher of The Wise Marketer, the premier digital customer loyalty marketing resource for industry relevant news, insights, and research. Wise Marketer Group also offers loyalty education and training globally. Through its Loyalty Academy, which has certified nearly 900 marketers and executives in 49 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. 

For global coverage of customer engagement and loyalty, check out and become a wiser marketer or subscriber. Learn more about global loyalty education for individuals or corporate training programs at 

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