Air Miles & BA launch loyalty management unit
In the UK, the Air Miles loyalty programme which specialises in the travel and leisure sector, has announced the launch of a new business unit, The Mileage Company, which will help companies to develop and manage new or existing loyalty programmes.
As a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways, The Mileage Company will now run the Air Miles programme and take responsibility for the commercial success of British Airways' own reward currency, BA Miles (which frequent flyers collect as members of BA's Executive Club programme).
The Mileage Company also aims to run other frequent flyer and leisure reward programmes for UK-based and other airlines and brands around the world. Led by Air Miles' managing director, Andrew Swaffield, the company says that it can develop every aspect of a loyalty programme, including set-up, management of rewards, engaging customers by rewarding loyalty, and driving profit and growth. The expertise offered by the company includes research and loyalty analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty marketing, and the necessary accounting skills associated with loyalty schemes. The company also has a large UK customer contact centre as well as IT development expertise.
According to Swaffield, "Our launch comes at a time when brands need compelling customer reward programmes to weather the economic storm. As consumers seek to cut spending by shopping around for the best deals, brand loyalty comes under threat. Reward programmes satisfy consumers' desire to get a real return on their money, thereby making them want to stay loyal to the brand."
The company is chaired by British Airways' director of strategy and business units, Robert Boyle, who added: "Mileage sales are a growth opportunity for carriers, particularly when seat revenues are depressed and there are more empty seats to fill."
In the past year, the company reports that some 4 million people have collected or redeemed miles with one of The Mileage Company's various loyalty schemes, which include the global BA Miles currency and the UK-based Air Miles programme. And, of course, being owned by British Airways gives The Mileage Company a useful differentiator in the loyalty market: unique access to BA's stock of unsold airline seats.