#233: Etihad Guest - Powerful Propositions Building Emotional Loyalty

Etihad Guest is a world-leader in airline loyalty, renowned for delivering innovative ideas that delight members in unexpected ways!

In today’s episode, Let’s Talk Loyalty is joined once again by Kim Hardaker, Managing Director of the Etihad Guest Programme, who shares the latest ideas and insights from one of the travel industry’s leading reward programs.

Their recent campaigns include a proposition to support the airlines sustainability goals, and a “world-first” idea that celebrated the reopening of Australia’s borders post-pandemic.

Listen to enjoy another episode jam-packed full of thoughtfulness and innovation.

Show Notes:
  1. Etihad Guest
  2. Kim Hardaker
  3. Etihad Guest Miles
  4. Miles On the Go
  5. Conscious Choices

Audio Transcript

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 brought to you by The Loyalty and Awards Conference. The leading annual event for loyalty professionals in the travel industry. Make sure to join us this year from the 10th to the 12th of October in Madrid for the perfect mix of inspiring content and exciting awards, checkout loyaltyandawards.com for more information and to register.


Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. We’re I’m delighted to be joined once again by Kim Hardaker, managing director of the Etihad Guest program and the vice president of loyalty and partnerships at Etihad Airway. What I love about Kim’s work is her unwavering focus on creating meaningful experiences. And in today’s conversation, you’ll hear all about the latest campaigns and initiatives that Etihad guests are most proud of. Kim has a background in brand marketing and advertising on the agency side in Sydney. As well as having led the development of world-leading digital experiences for Quantis Loyalty. Now based in Abu Dhabi, Kim leads, Etihad Airways travel and lifestyle loyalty program Etihad Guests where customers are still at the heart of everything she does.

So she continues to focus on delighting their members while also ensuring commercial value to the business. Etihad Guests has been awarded the best frequent flyer program in the middle east and north Africa, as well as multiple industry awards in 2021 for their innovative mobile app, including the prestigious loyalty and awards for the best use of technology.

She has recently received her certificate in behavioral economics from the University of Toronto and as well as her leadership of Etihad Guests Kim also acts as an advisor for some of the Middle East’s largest retailers and payment providers.


So, Kim, Hardaker welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty. 


Thank you, Paula. Nice to see you again. 


Nice to see you too, Kim. The last time we saw each other was back in Ireland. 


It was when you say back in Ireland, I say very first time in Ireland and, uh, well, yeah, what an incredible experience and also green. 


Oh, so green, my goodness. And you spoke beautifully. So I got, a quick update in terms of what we’re going to talk about today for our global audience. But, uh, but tell me, I mean the whole conference was fantastic. Did you enjoy the country as well by the sound of it? 


Absolutely. The conference was really quite something and I think for all of us, Post-COVID so nice to be together and share what’s been going on. That’s a lot has happened for a lot of different brands in the last two years. And although I didn’t get up to say too much of my island, I definitely will be going back, uh, that beautiful, uh, Cutecake castle. If I pronounce that correctly, uh, really was quite something quite magical. Yeah. Really enjoyed it. Beautiful Irish hospitality as well. 


There you go. And I will say as well, I have really been impressed over the years, Kim, and with how Etihad as an airline has supported Ireland. And so lots of wonderful sponsorships and, you know, just as a destination for you guys, you’ve really done it very well.

So, um, yeah, just a really nice we didn’t use to have you in the country actually just do it to celebrate that. 


Oh, thank you. I’m happy to hear that. 


Great. Great. So let’s get into our conversation for today, Kim, and as you know, my new opening question is trying to understand what is everybody’s favorite loyalty program, either professionally, obviously you can say role or just personally one that you actually get to use on a regular basis. So please do tell us, what is your favorite loyalty program?


 I, uh, I do love this question because I feel like my answer is very controversial for someone that works in loyalty to not actually name it a traditional loyalty program. So my, uh, the brand, I am most loyal, which I would say, uh, you know, the quintessential components of loyalty for me is Spotify.


Why, why do I say that? Because as a music lover, users or Spotify, it uses data of things that I love, things that I interact with, and things that I engage with, uh, during using the app or the, all the web and serves me more of what I really enjoy. It also brings me surprise and delight of things that maybe I didn’t know about that I might actually really enjoy and for a paid service.

I always think. If it were really a more expensive pay service, would I pay more? You know, what is the true test of my loyalty? And the answer is absolutely. Uh, I think, you know, from my perspective, it’s relatively affordable for the value I get back now, nontraditional obviously in regards to, you know, traditional benefits. But I think in re in regards to what something really valuable to me that I think tapped into an experience that wasn’t offered in the market. To its entry is something. Yeah. So it sits on the top of non-traditional loyalty, but something that drives a lot of loyalty from me and that feeling of recognition and reward.


Yes. Well, I love that you use a controversial one, Kim, because you know, life would be boring if we all just followed the rules all the time. So I liked that and I originally would have probably resisted Spotify, perhaps. Maybe I’m just not as much of a music lover as you. Well, what I would say though, Kim is, I’m very pleased that they’re supporting the worlds of podcasting.

And so I don’t know if you listen to podcasts as well on Spotify is music but you know, they’ve done enough a lot to build up, I suppose, other forms of entertainment and so audio as well as that whole music piece. So yeah, I think it’s a wonderful choice. 


Thank you. Thank you. I think. Yeah, and absolutely I do listen to podcasts and, you know, they’ve had a few really quite, you know, uh, big headlines on things like that recently.


But, uh, in my, my past working in advertising agencies, we actually had a couple of engagements or presentations from them in the early days. Equally the data, data capabilities, and what they do with that data, uh, you know, from, uh, a traditional loyalty sense or a CRM sense is, is really quite impressive and there’s lots of headlines in the news about, um, you know, those capabilities, but I think adding to your, your original question, it does, uh, yeah. Ticks, ticks quite a few books. 


Yeah. And I suppose when I often think about my own definition of loyalty as an industry, as distinct from me personally, it is about driving behavior change. Like that’s what I love about what we do. The fact that you can actually go, here’s something that people would love. And let me see if I can tempt them or tease them or reward them into using that. So, so the fact that they actually get you perhaps to listen to new music that you wouldn’t have listened to or discovered is absolutely fantastic. 

Yeah. Super. Yeah. When I think about the old days, I guess it would have been your friends, you know, or, you know, we would just be talking about music amongst ourselves and kind of recommending yes. I was afraid to show my age. Oh my God. And if somebody really fancied you they’d make you a mix tape. It was a real sign that they were.


Yeah. Oh, dear. So much in common. My goodness, Kim. So listen back to Etihad Guest. Um, it’s been actually two years. Would you believe since we got together on this show, Kim? I do not believe it. No, it feels, uh, incredibly, uh, long, but yet even, uh, not, not that far. So I feel like many of us feel that way at the moment.


It is a bit bonkers actually. Yeah. Um, but I do remember we had a lot of conversations because I suppose it was such a disruptive time, and thank God, I think we’re all coming out into a relative sense of normality, and certainly, in Ireland, I’m sure you experienced that as well. So I know you guys have been extremely busy and with Etihad Guest over that couple of years, So, a few of your, I suppose, um, high profile campaigns and propositions that we’re going to talk to our listeners about today. So, first of all, I was going to ask you about the Australia campaign, Kim. Um, because this was one that I know was a huge undertaking, just in terms of logistics and, uh, I suppose branding and marketing the whole destination of Abu Dhabi and really inspiring people to start traveling again. So would you tell us all about this wonderful Australian campaign that you ran for Etihad Guest Members?


Sure I would love to. So for those that, uh, may have listened to our podcast a yeah, two years ago now, as you say, uh, they may recall thoughtfulness being at the heart of the strategy for our programs. So throughout COVID, it became an increasingly important pillar in our strategy as traditional loyalty in particular for a My Travel and Lifestyle Program like ours, became increasingly difficult for us to be able to show and engage our members at such a tumultuous time and a non-traditional time or non-traditional experiences is in behaviors that we were all a part of whether it’s personally or professionally.

So with thoughtfulness at the heart, And, uh, obviously we, we had thankfully passed through the many tier initiatives that we were doing, the extensions, the promotions to keep everybody’s status on track on a variety of other things that think we’re definitely, uh, what many programs were doing at the time was, uh, how we look to engage and recognize how large communities all of our members around the world have been impacted and, uh, or, uh, seeing the return to travel. And I think Australia was very high in the, uh, in the headlines throughout COVID for being one of the most restrictive markets in regards to travel both outbound and inbound and, uh, Australia is actually one of our top five markets, and we, some of our listeners may be familiar. We have a very strong relationship with Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer, which we’ve had for quite some time. So together we share a really engaged community, uh, for, you know, domestic and international travel, so it was a brief, we, uh, discussed with the team to say, what is something that we could do that would be really different that would show our thoughtfulness, but also really celebrate the markets reopening as many know Aussies do love to travel. Totally tend to be seen everywhere around the world. Yes. It’s incredible to actually say that is true. And so, uh, we, we workshopped a few ideas and, uh, the team came up with an incredibly bold idea to start with which at first, uh, we didn’t actually know we’d get approved, which was to charter an aircraft full of just Etihad guest members and bring them to Abu Dhabi. Wow. I always get giggled at this a little bit and encourage people to think about, if you imagine after the pandemic, uh, working for an airline, uh, and you know, obviously times were tough, uh, walking into a boardroom and saying, can we charter an aircraft?

Exactly. The whole thing. No, but, uh, we have an incredibly supportive and open-minded and creative thinking, executive committee, and CEO, and, uh, we really done, We had done the thinking through and the hard work to say, how do we ensure that this is, you know, commercially, uh, sense sensible while I also delivering on lots of value metrics, which may not be commercially, Uh, driven because at the end of the day as a loyalty program, metrics are many, and these did really, uh, this, this initiative did really, you know, fire on a few different cylinders. So once we got that approval, uh, we launched, uh, what is an extension of the campaign we did 2019 called your Special Guests to be our special guests and as part of our special guests, which is dedicated to our Australian members, we encouraged our audience in Australia to tell us in 25 words or less, why they would like to visit us in Abu Dhabi and jumped on this world first very first Etihad Guest flights. Wow. We were absolutely bowled over by, uh, the number of entries of, of members new and, uh, and past telling us, you know, some incredible stories of why traveling to, to Abu Dhabi, uh, would be so meaningful for them. I think, to add as well, the traveling to Abu Dhabi was not just the flight but we also, uh, hosted these members for four nights and five days gave them some wonderful experiences around Abu Dhabi from visiting the desert to visiting some of the cultural and religious, uh, important, religiously important areas of Abu Dhabi and obviously plenty of free time to enjoy the sunshine for any Aussie listeners. It has been raining in Australia for a very long time as well. So I think some sunshine and blue skies was very well appreciated. And so in 25 words or less, and the team we collectively read those entries internally as well and chose a hundred members and their plus ones to join us on, on this trip. So it was a, as you’ve mentioned the beginning and without going into the detail logistically, uh, you know, a wonderful learning experience I could imagine. And, uh, but wow, like what an amazing experience to be a part of. So not only did we host the guests on the flight and also in Abu Dhabi, but we did a celebration at Abu Dhabi Airport, sorry, at Sydney Airport. Uh, so at the gate, we had some, uh, some drinks and some kind of pays Uh, we were able to, uh, for the crew and the captains to be able to be part of the experience, it also was coinciding with, Uh, Etihad’s 15th year anniversary of flying to Australia, Yeah. So there was some great content that we’d had from some events we’d been running there as well. So onboard the aircraft, we had, uh, desserts, we had a cake, uh, we had a special menu, uh, some special onboard announcements to welcome everybody on board the flight so that was our Special Guests and, you know, I think, uh, throughout that process, we also got these wonderful opportunities to speak with members and for the members to meet other members as well and bring the communities together in a way that was also really important from my, I recalled as a, as a few people actually that were still in contact with, uh, you know, that we connected with throughout this experience as well that’s, from arriving in Abu Dhabi or arriving in Sydney Airport, you know, independently didn’t know each other to seeing them on the activities around Abu Dhabi that had made lifelong friends. So it was a, you know, really, quite powerful to say, you know, that excitement towards travel, that positivity being able to create an experience that brings people together.

And then the, and then the icing on top really. Not only did they come to Abu Dhabi. We had an incredible number of people, travel onwards. Uh, so obviously it was just a nice stopping-off point where we had people meeting family around the world, whether in the UK or in Europe, and we also coordinated to Secret Meetings for family here in Abu Dhabi. So we had one lovely family that had a daughter that was a university here in Abu Dhabi. Uh, so we organized a, uh, wonderful moment when they arrived in Abu Dhabi, uh, that she was there waiting for them and also another family. So those families who hadn’t seen each other for two and potentially two-plus years, So to be able to reunite families, allow them to travel experience the beauty and the wonders of Abu Dhabi and enjoy that thrill of flying and traveling once again, 


Yeah, you know, you always want to make me want to cry with your campaigns Kim, it’s amazing.


I could just, I think as an Aussie as well, I, Yeah, I think we could easily identify with that as well, I had friends and family and, and definitely myself, I, there was a long time I couldn’t hug my parents. So I visit my friends and you know, that, that was, I think, um, many, many Australians where the inside the country or out it was, uh, it was an emotional time.

So yeah, it was really, really great to be able to, to be a part of that as well. As a fellow Australian. Totally, totally. Well, I can only imagine, as you’ve said already, Kim, you know, the joy, the excitement, and the challenge, I can imagine if I was trying to write 25 words to win something like that. Oh, my gosh, the amount of thinking that would have to go into making it like something that would absolutely be, be a winner. Like, so I would say that the, you know, even reading all of those entries must have been a joy and to hear all of those kinds of wonderful stories, but, just, you mentioned early on, Kim in that the whole piece around, your C-suite is clearly incredibly supportive and you have said that all along. So, you know, there’s, there’s clearly a real vision there with that, you know, the idea of thoughtfulness and I think I’ve said it to you before people do feel that, like, we all know loyalty programs can feel so transactional and we all focus on trying to build the emotional side, but, but the fact that that’s the pure intention of something like this, is really something that comes through, but I’d love to just ask what, what kind of commercial and justification were you using? Was it building brand? Was it PR value? Just, I know you won’t be able to tell us the metrics, but just what kind of business case did you have to put together to make that something that they were excited about for you?


Surely, I can talk to some of the high-level metrics, so definitely in regards to engagement.

Uh, so that’s the metric and I think we actually may have talked about that Paula last time I was on, we have a proprietary score called our customer engagement score. Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah, so that, that score not only looks at active members in, in, you know, the most traditional KPI of a loyalty program, but also stitches to get the other commercially led KPIs such as, uh, redemptions or crawls and, and a variety of other touch points. So we can use that score. Uh, very flexibly, actually, not just to look at engagement, but we also have a financial value attached to that as well. So, so that’s a quick win for us, obviously when it comes to looking at onwards travel. So, so naturally we saw people, whether it was redeeming their miles, Uh, or flying commercially for the onwards, travel around the world. So, that was definitely a contribution, but really I think, um, sorry. And the PR value, which you, you also mentioned as well, but really starting at the top and, and maybe going back to your previous point about that thoughtfulness It’s so much the core of our DNA that we understand the value, even though from a dollar value, may not always have the, you know, an equivalent, uh, you know, in a business case, the power of the activities and the authenticity really does make a difference for us. And I think there is also a component of trust to that because it has been something that we have focused on over the last three years, since we relaunched in 2019, and as with the support of the executive committee and being able to demonstrate the power of thoughtfulness across a variety of different activities is seeing also that long-term impact of, of, and so I also think it’s an interesting point right, of how business cases will evolve over time as, as loyalty can be very transactional and in some situations, we’ll always be by its nature, but how that different kind of loyalty that we’re all experiencing, or some of us are delivering or designing as we, as, as you and I speak we’ll need a different type of business case, because I think the traditional, the loyalty programs are not as traditional as they used to be. And therefore, the way we, we, uh, address or calculate value will need to come along with that. So I will be interested to see that. I think w you know, we pushed ourselves at the beginning because we were taking a leap of faith, you know, especially when we had relaunched the program, and now are the time given our focus and that feedback and, and really the importance we place on customer feedback and some of our softer metrics, uh, is really, you know, helping us establish a new way of reporting. 


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was literally just thinking, and maybe you have this figured out, but certainly, in my days we didn’t and it was, you know, how do you quantify the impact of these initiatives?

Even on the airline brand. So obviously Etihad Airways in your case, you know, so it’s one thing to drive engagement within Etihad Guest, which is fantastic both the halo effect that you drive for the airline itself, I think, is something that must start to appear in the PNL and maybe that is something that you’ve cracked already, but it definitely something I think for people listening to be thinking about more and more.


Agree. Yeah. Fantastic. And actually, the other thing I was thinking about as well, and I had Fred Reichheld on the show back in December Kim, who’s the guy now, most people wouldn’t probably know his name, but he’s the guy who invented net promoter score. That whole framework. I mean, the man is an absolute God. He’s a fellow of payment companies or wonderful consulting firm, all of these kinds of things that you’re talking about. I mean, I wasn’t ever expecting to hear the word love coming through from, you know, that kind of, you know, business discussion. What it’s coming through and what you’re saying, it’s coming through and what he’s saying. So actually genuinely loving your customers and your members is a good business strategy. So I’m just super happy that more and more people are coming on to that.


It’s funny, isn’t it? Because I think historically the, the idea, or even that word being on a document or being used in a corporate sense, it would, would be non-traditional righto, unexpected.


But yeah, I think it really boils down to some of the core values, the core human values that are coming through. I would say more present since COVID, because it did force a lot of things to go back to basics. And, uh, Fred may have been using that terminology for, for, you know, many, many years before, but I think that’s a. A really interesting space because we all talk about simplicity and that we need to simplify our engagement or simplify the way people are rewarded. And those core values by nature yeah. Are simple. So I, I really like, like that example. 


Yes. Yeah, no, absolutely. So you’re absolutely right. Actually simplification is another one where, you know, anytime I do see a campaign that I actually understand and that I also like, like, it’s almost a feeling of relief, you know, that, that you can see something that Is hugely impactful without having to jump through hoops, you know, and try to figure out how do I get there or whatever. So, um, again, I can hear like with your 25 words and, you know, um, hosting, you know, what was the terminology you used Kim, BR guest was this for your. 


Our special guests. 


Lovely. Yeah. So, so that kind of concept, I can imagine the excitement now in Australia. So I’m a little bit envious that Ireland didn’t get to benefits or, you know, other markets, but then I guess we didn’t suffer with the borders closed, like, uh, like you guys did, so yes. Yeah, definitely the one to do it. So well done. Absolutely brilliant story, Kim. And what was I going to ask you about next? Two other things. I think the next one was around a really important campaign. You have, I think at the moment, I think it’s your most high profile one Kim and I know it’s called conscious choices and seems to be doing a wonderful job, very comprehensive proposition all around the whole importance of sustainability. Um, and you know, what Etihad Guest is doing to support the airline, I guess, with this. Critical, I suppose, concept for, for all of us, you know, particularly, I suppose again, coming out of COVID. I think we’re back to the reality of, we do have other big problems in the world that we need to focus our, our attention and energy on. So will you tell the listeners all about the conscious choices proposition, 


Sure. I would love to, so. For Etihad sustainability is one of our core priorities and a strategic objective. That has been a lot of, uh, part of the focus and, and part of the discussions that, uh, we have been leading. I, I would say comfortably, we are a front runner in many of the sustainability, uh, activities, uh, with, uh, a clear pledge for the reduction in our carbon emissions and for our net zero to be by 2050, there’s been some more recent to releases as to we are fast tracked. We are ahead of that commitment through a variety of different initiatives, and we’ll continue to focus on how we can do more and also rally together the industry. As we all very much have a role to play and how we can make travel more sustained. Um, so leaping off that point is a conscious choices, which is Etihad Guest’s contribution to our sustainability strategy and how we could engage our community of members around the world to be able to empower them, to make more conscious choices, whether that’s, while they’re flying or in their everyday. So for us, it was a w I mean, use one campaign for us that the word we’re using is chapter. So it’s not a new part, sorry. It’s not a new program that has to be joined per se. It’s a, it’s a complimentary set of sustainability initiatives that we have, uh, launched as part of the program. So if we take a step back as to the strategy that I spoke to so thoughtfulness being the pillar, and this is really for us, the thoughtfulness towards our environment and our communities within, within that, uh, a key focus of our sustainability initiatives. So. A big part of this process, and actually this strategy design is how we can ensure that this is complimenting the initiatives that are already in play and also helping to apply a future lens to, uh, aviation, but also how our members are engaging with their own sustainability initiatives. So. Excuse me, whether that is, uh, reducing their carbon footprint. Uh, and there’s a variety of ways that obviously that can be done through, to offsetting their carbon footprint. So as part of conscious choices, our members have 18 different choices that they can be rewarded for. And that is, Is whether, as I said, they want to reduce their carbon footprint through, uh, choosing to go for a digital only card, uh, going away from that standard plastic card and the kit through to carrying less luggage. Now, this was a really interesting one because it was part of this education process of how could I travel more sustainably without having to make major changes or with little behavior change, but as. Yeah. And, uh, so as little as five kilos, less luggage can have a significant reduction on a traveling passengers, carbon footprint. So using pieces like of education like this to help people travel more sustainably. And those, uh, those conscious choices are rewarded, uh, with our status currency, which is TM Miles. equally, we have, uh, liberated our loyalty currency. Our Etihad Guest Miles to also enable members to be able to minimize their carbon footprint through a variety of different options, whether that’s using the miles in our redemption stores. Sustainably or ethically sourced products. There’s quite a lovely range of products on there for around the world, including some that just launched, uh, two days ago, actually we’ve worked with a, a local artist to use our, um, leftover or recycled, Uh, on board materials, such as leathers and fabrics, uh, to make some really lovely handbags, uh, and some other activities. So, well now, well now reward store. Wow. And through to carbon offset. So we work with our partner out of New Zealand whose Carbon Click, where we’ve actually designed. Of carbon offset types. Now going to a range of high quality carbon offset projects, which are supplied by Carbon Click. And those offsets are designed to be, um, purposeful in regards to it’s a short haul flight, It could be a long haul flight. It can even go towards driving a small car through to an SUV, uh, through to offsetting your house, uh, Uh, in regards to the operating electricity, for example, the footprint of operating your home. So we’ve made those nice little bite-sized chunks of carbon offsets that are starting from as little as 203 Etihad Guest Miles, uh, so that people can actually make a positive step forward, uh, using our currency. Uh, and again, it’s whether the. You know, not just from offsetting your travel, but if you have a personal goal towards your carbon reduction, that those types of offsets that we’ve designed means that those miles can also go towards your own activities as well. So they, uh, that’s, that’s a, uh, a, a overview of the conscious choices that have been launched with then shortly after we launched conscious story, We announced a, with one of our newest partners, which is Talabat, who is, uh, for those around the world. Uh, one of the UAE, uh, top food delivery services, or actually logistics companies, uh, where we agreed, uh, that we would offset all of our members deliveries via the Talabat, uh, service or partnership, uh, using our card linking program miles on the go that all of those deliveries are now offset. So there is a lovely badge attached to that as well. So all of these conscious choices, uh, in, Etihad Guest Profile, uh, and they, uh, effectively, uh, yeah, badges that members can earn. And as I said, get rewarded for, with the TM miles. So, uh, we are constantly, uh, engaged with our members and our partners and working very closely with our sustainability team to see how we can introduce new conscious choices, provide members more choice. Because Etihad Guest is brand of choices and we’ve also used our customer advisory board, which I think I mentioned last time we spoke as well. We have, uh, around in our key markets because sustainability. Has at a different, uh, many different topics or many different, uh, I suppose, uh, progress in different markets as well, uh, which we’re really familiar with. So we’ve spoken to our members in different markets to say, how do these conscious choices resonate with you? Where do you think we could be doing more work on education? For example? What can we be providing more, more choices and equally how we can provide more rewards for making responsible choices? So the TM Miles I mentioned, uh, what’s present now. We’re obviously working through some of the great feedback to be able to give people more recognition and reward, uh, and equally how we encourage, uh, more people to participate. So I think one of the key parts of our strategy is. Not about, uh, it’s really about encouraging positive change as opposed to taking anything away, uh, from, from people that are already, you know, enjoying the services. So as part of that, you know, in parallel with that education and, and recognizing positive behaviors together, You know, and, and we see ourselves as part of this, this community is, as I said, we all have a responsibility for the environment and how together we can really make a positive impact and a positive change.


Yeah. And it’s, it is incredibly powerful, Kim. Uh, thank you for that wonderful explanation. What I really liked, and I was watching your beautiful launch out actually just before we came on air together. And what struck me about it was the fact that it’s kind of focused on. Taking action. And because I do think there’s, it’s, you know, I think in the past, you know, there’s lots of brands that have, you know, put big goals up there in terms of, you know, claiming to be sustainable. Um, and maybe if that is something they’re working towards, suppose to make it something that I can do as an Etihad Guest member. Which is practical. It’s in my control. And you’re facilitating that with 18 choices. Like actually that’s not an awful lot of choices for something that is sometimes difficult to measure, difficult to educate people around. And as you said, actually, a it’s, it’s a lifelong proposition. Now, I guess the people over time will increasingly need more options, but already to have 18 choices to, uh, you know, to feel that connection and make a conscious choice fantastic. 


Thank you definitely more work to do in that space. And because it’s a, it’s an evolving, uh, landscape, I think in regards to sustainability, you think for us, you know, we were one of the first, if not the first in market from a loyalty program, point of view, think there are some other great examples of, uh, brands in the same industry doing some, some great things too and I mean, we are so happy to see it. It’s not about only. We all need to be doing our bit. And, uh, you know, I celebrate every brand, uh, and, and everybody that’s participating in that to make a difference because it’s, it’s the, it’s the momentum and the sum of the parts and collective mindset towards making that change that is, is really going to be able to. Really, really see us make a difference. So we’re really excited about it. It’s been really positive in regards to the number of members that are engaged. So we’re close to about 6% of our active members are participating and making conscious choices, which is, is phenomenal given we, uh, we launched in January. So. Yeah, good, good progress. And, uh, the team, uh, continuing to work on, uh, not only the conscious choices, but how we make it easier, How do we make that more simple for our members to be a part of find choices that suit them and also help to really recognize and hero those that are really committed uh, to, to making more conscious choices, to ensure that they are recognized for the efforts that they’re. 


And I would love to see at some point or here in the future, Kim, and you know, some of the measurements around, uh, what Talabat, um, are able to achieve in partnership with, at T had, you know, because, you know, we’re all so fond of our delivery services from Talabat. So I’m sure they’ll put some fascinating statistics together at some point in terms of, you know, how much offsetting you can do through that partnership with them. So actually delivering something at scale in everyday life, as you said, I think it’s a, it’s another lovely concept.


And I think it’s the power of brands coming together you see more and more announcements and commitments come from brands around the world and, you know, industries outside of, uh, of ours as well. And, you know, obviously we talk about us providing choices. But to, you know, being able brands coming together to be able to even, you know, magnify or amplify that to is also I think, an exciting space and I know Talabat also have a, you know, a very thorough and. Sustainability vision that they are working towards. So we’ll continue to be looking at continuously, be looking for opportunities to expand that while also continuing discussions with other partnerships. How can we, how can we take that forward, and hero other fantastic activities that are happening in this space.


Yes. Yes. And I’m a big fan of partnerships. Kim I’ve often said on the show, like that’s actually how I got into loyalty. And to me. So much power when you confined to Browns the do have similarly aligned vision and brand values, I guess, as well. So it sounds like that’s an increasing direction. You’re going in general as well, is it?


For us, it always has been, we have an incredible portfolio within Etihad Guest across all of the different key categories. And some, I think for us, you know, unexpected or new. So Talabat being one of our newest, uh, and also with the launch of our. Uh, card linking, uh, miles on the go. We’ve been able to create new types of partnerships that probably wouldn’t have existed before, given really empowered or enabled by, you know, some great tech that’s coming out in the marketplace. So, uh, I mean, I might just dump onto miles on the go, if that was for you,


literally about to ask Kim, because it’s probably my favorite concept that you guys did in the last couple of years. I mean, it was just genius. So please do explain. 


Uh, thank you. So, uh, if I take a step back from the partnerships component, so Miles on the Go, uh, for us is, uh, was our baby, uh, that was launched in January, sorry, June, 2019, uh, as part of the Etihad Guest mobile app, and a, a long time coming, I think, as we were trying to push the button, So to liberate our currency in more channels and with more partners than we had a now existing offering and, uh, yeah, for those not familiar is our version of card linking, but as opposed to the traditional sense of card, linking the card linking is actually done via our mobile app. So, uh, throughout our mobile app, it’s linking, uh, any visa card. Obviously we prioritize our wonderful range of portfolios or about co-brand credit cards, but by linking the credit cards into the app, then using those credit cards with any of the partners that are.


As part of miles on the go that’s tapping at the POS. That’s also shopping online. We have quite a few online partners as well. Members receive a push notification from the Etihad guest app that enables them to either redeem real time for the four 80 had guests at he had guests miles for that purchase or accrue miles for that purchase.


Yeah, a simple load of the cards, a simple tap of the push notification, and we have been able to connect members now with over 900 partners across the UAE. Some global partnerships as well, such as far fetch many may know is a high, high end online fashion retail. We, uh, three weeks ago, four weeks ago, just before Ramadan, actually we launched, uh, Abu Dhabi duty-free, uh, in Abu Dhabi airport.


Cool. As well, Taliban I mentioned and a, you know, a nicer roadmap still to come, but I think, you know, for us, those, those. Y that’s made that possible is the tech is very easy, turn around. It has little to know, uh, you know, requirements from the partner, you know, heavy lifting that heavy lifting is done on our side, or is the way that that’s set up.


Equally, no heavy lifting on the member side. And that for us was the key I made reference to, you know, our intention to launch this, you know, much not in the middle of COVID. We did the maths. That was not, not the ideal, a lot of timing, but it ended up being the ideal launch timing because. Uh, you know, as we touched on the beginning, we were looking for ways for members to be able to continue being, you know, recognized and rewarded as part of our loyalty program and why they may not have been using their currency for flights, that they could use that for the, for the everyday, you know, we saw how the.


From, um, you know, economically how spending was changing. So we wanted to be able to give that flexibility for the currency so that, uh, that simplicity is everything for us, everything for the members and for the partners alike. So that’s, you know, we can see those partnerships into market very quickly, the currency being as seamless as possible.


And, uh, actually, uh, just made me think we, uh, only just, uh, at the end of aids, um, announced our, our newest campaign, uh, which actually heroes the world of it. He had guests, uh, and the 900 plus partners. So we have a wonderful range of partners here. We’ve got an amazing support network. Um, The ability for members to be able to earn and burn in, uh, you know, hundreds and hundreds of different locations means the program becomes more rewarding for everyone in our community.


Absolutely. And I know for example, within those 900 partners, Kim, you have the top shopping malls in Abu Dhabi. So really. Premium destinations. The people really love to shop in so that you can have that experience again, just by having linked to the card already in the app. Uh, I just, as you said, it was perfect and I suppose helped you guys, you know, complete the picture of becoming a lifestyle brand.


Um, you know, at a time when being an airline was probably the most difficult it’s ever been. So really a lovely, lovely, uh, result all around. Yeah, we’re, we’re very, we’re very happy. Uh, always more worse to go. The technology landscape is forever changing and not without its challenges, but, uh, challenges be accepted.


It’s really about continuing to make it the best it can be and providing that choice and that recognition for. For sure. Brilliant. So listen, and the last part I wanted to ask you about Kim was, I know you have some am, I suppose, the new version of the beautiful campaign we talked about together two years ago, which was called your special guest.


And so, uh, you haven’t, I don’t think released this new version or round two of this just yet, but can you give us any hints as to what to expect with your special guests round two? I can give you a hand, but that’s about it. Cool. So, uh, the very first rounds of the special guests was right smack bang in the middle of the pandemics or thoughtfulness.


The, the, what we were asking our members was to nominate someone that had been thoughtful this time around. The second, uh, launch of your special guests was people that had been thoughtful, not only to those around them, excuse me, but equally to the community or to the environment. So a. Not so much of a focus, obviously just on COVID because thoughtfulness was actually happening everywhere even before COVID.


So without giving away too much of our, our secrets, uh, You know, again, some incredibly thoughtful kind people, people that are really committed to making a change and equally, you know, a change in the world and how they can influence those around them to, um, you know, do more, be more. You know, really, uh, I suppose stepping forward and showing, you know, what good looks like.


So, uh, more to come in the not too distant future, but so, yeah, we’re, we’re equally excited about launching that and sharing. Nativity. Wonderful. My goodness. Well, my eyes will be wide open throughout the summer. Of course, watching all of your communications. Hopefully we’ll see that coming to market very soon.


Kim. So listen, I have asked all of my questions. I feel fully up to date now and Etihad Guest Kim. So thank you for explaining it all so beautifully. And with anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap up today? No, I think, uh, they were some of the highlights for us, uh, right now. And, uh, yeah, I appreciate the time chatting Paula.


It’s always a pleasure. And uh, yeah, I hope we get to do this in the, not too distant future. Absolutely wonderful. Well, on that note, Kim Hardaker Vice-president of Loyalty and Partnerships and Managing Director for Etihad Guest, thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty. 


This show is brought to you by the Australian Loyalty Association, the leading organization for loyalty networking, and education in Asia Pacific. Their international virtual loyalty conference will take place on the 25th of August, 2022. Register now to hear global experts discuss current trends in loyalty marketing. There will be fantastic networking opportunities, questions, and answers, gamification, and great prices to be won. Visit australialoyaltyassociation.com to find out more.


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