#343: Ideas for Airline Loyalty Professionals from Steve Hui, CEO, iFLYflat

In this episode, Tom Peace summarises the key points from Steve Hui’s interview with Paula Thomas about how earning loyalty points on airline schemes is easy but redeeming them is not.

He shares his top tips and ideas for loyalty professionals to drive points redemption, which is vital for program health.

Both Tom and Steve are passionate about airline loyalty programs and the collection of airmiles, and there are some great tips in here for loyalty program managers and frequent flyers!

Show Notes:- 

1) Steve Hui

2) iFLYflat

3) #173: Education and Inspiration – Ideas for Airline Loyalty Professionals

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let Talk Loyalty, an Industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, The Founder of Let Talk Loyalty. Today’s episode is hosted by Tom Peace, Managing Director of The Loyalty People, a strategic consultancy with a laser focus on Loyalty, CRM, and Customer Engagement. The Loyalty People also runs a free global community for anyone working in the loyalty industry. If you are working in loyalty marketing, make sure to join. Let’s talk loyalty every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to hear the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

The 2023 Consumer Trends Index shares, attitudes and desires from over 10,000 consumers on topics such as purchase behavior, preferred marketing channels, privacy and data as well as what drives loyalty with their favorite brands. You can get your complimentary copy of this report along with access to several free webinars by visiting meetmarigold.com.

Marigold is the home of cheetah loyalty, delivering world-class MarTech solutions and industry expertise designed to help marketers of all sizes grow the relationships that grow their business. Learn more at meetmarigold.com.

Tom: Hello there, and welcome to this week’s five minute summary show on behalf of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m Tom Peace, Managing Director of The Loyalty People and presenter of Let’s Talk A Little Loyalty.

This week my Let’s Talk Loyalty show showcases, Paula’s interview with Steve Hui, CEO of an Australian company called iFLYflat.

Steve helps his customers to find and book redemption seats as early as possible and is known as the Points Whisperer. As you’ll hear, he really believes that redemption flights are the best way to engage and delight airline customers. I’m personally a massive Avios Airmiles Holder and I’m fully subscribed to the format with Credit Card Bank Alliance, and frequent flyer miles. So this show is very interesting to me on a personal level as well as a professional interest. If you’d like to know more, I’d recommend the main show, which can be found on www.let’stalkloyalty.com, and first aired on the 30th of December, 2020. Episode number 173.

Steve talks about how airmiles schemes are complicated and difficult to understand for the uninitiated, and I couldn’t agree more. Points often have a different value depending on how you earn or burn them, and there seems to be so many rules about availability, peak travel and partner offers, et cetera.

However, you will get the hang of it if you persevere, and as Steve says in the main show, the real incentive is in the value of the points, which can be significant. Over the last 30 or 40 years since Airmiles Program started, the availability of flights for redemption has decreased the point where popular rooms, are now overbooked, and this has been a problem for Airmiles schemes as there’s no value in earning points if you can’t use them. Steve highlights a number of ways that airlines have innovated here that I think any industry can learn from. Firstly, there’s the upsell opportunity. The customer motivation is to accumulate points to get a free economy flight, but airlines are now incentivizing people to use their points to part pay for an upgrade to business or first class, burning the points and generating a new experience for the customer, and of course, revenue for the airline. The other option for airlines is to allow customers to use points on partner offers, such as hotel stays, hire car, or products like luggage, electrical, or perfume.

This has previously been problematic for airlines as the perception is that flight revenue is flowing out of the program, to another partner. But on the contrary, this is very lucrative for both parties, and airlines have realized that burn drives earn and the value to a customer is what they can get from the Airmiles.

Very interestingly, Steve talks about subscription loyalty within Airmiles programs as a new innovation. That hasn’t yet gathered full pace. It really shows how much things have moved on in the last two years as airlines have really invested in this with points purchase programs, and paid for membership. And I think this is a very positive move for customers who want the tier benefits but don’t travel as often as they used to in today’s changed climate.

So after a very tough few years, the Airmiles schemes are back and many have innovated to make the customer experience even better, which can only be a good thing. And as an avid Avios collector, I couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed my summary. I’d highly recommend listening to the main show.

All the best and speak soon. Tom,

Paula: This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training, through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

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