Air Miles Middle East to enter new regions in 2006
The operator of the Air Miles Middle East coalition loyalty programme says it is to embark on an aggressive regional rollout which will see the programme launch operations in Lebanon and Bahrain by the end of 2006.
Already present in UAE and Qatar, and currently boasting more than 1 million members, the Air Miles programme (which is managed in the region by Rewards Management Middle East Ltd) is expected to gain an extra 100,000 members in the first year from new markets, with a further 20% annual growth being predicted by the company until 2010.
The news came during a visit to the Middle East by Air Miles founder, Sir Keith Mills, who was in Dubai to celebrate the company's fifth anniversary in the region. According to Sir Keith, "As the Middle East's retail sector continues to flourish it makes sense for Air Miles to expand its operations across the region."
With a predicted 250% rise in retail gross leaseable area by 2010, the Middle East is seen by many as a "shopper's paradise". This idea is what encouraged Air Miles to further develop its activities in the region, helping members to make the most of their daily spending.
Bahrain first Air Miles, which is free to join, has already aligned with strategic partners in Bahrain (such as HSBC and the Jawad Group) and its operator expects to bring an additional 30 partners into the programme from the fashion, supermarket, petrol retail, and travel and exchange sectors.
According to Dave Battiston, CEO for Rewards Management Middle East (RMMEL), "We aim to bring anchor brands that are highly accessible to the customer, offer a sound product mix, and raise the Air Miles profile. This strategy has been instrumental in the development of Air Miles both here and abroad."
The loyalty programme operator is entering Lebanon as its first phase of expansion. This is being done through new strategic partner HSBC. Already managing the bank's regional Premier Rewards programme, RMMEL will extend this existing programme to all HSBC credit card holders in the country.
Saudi Arabia next Air Miles has also cited Saudi Arabia as being the next key market for it to enter.
Saudi Arabia is the Middle East's main retail market, having a considerable consumer spending force. Battiston said that "the Saudi market is one we will enter in the medium term." The programme already has strong interest and commitments from local and regional market leaders, which represent the right strategic partners with which to develop the programme in the country.
Background Currently more than 80% of all Air Miles Middle East members have either redeemed miles for a reward, or have enough Air Miles to do so. The programme receives over 10,000 new membership applications per month. Rewards Management Middle East manages Air Miles in the UAE and Qatar.
Members can collect Air Miles from over 100 market-leading participants including: HSBC, Spinneys, Damas, Lamcy Plaza, Axiom Telecom, Areej, Thomas Cook Al Rostamani (Travel & Tourism), Gulf Greetings, Hertz, Bin Sina Pharmacies, Hilton Hotels, CineStar Theatres, Pan Emirates Furniture, Rotana Hotels, Jawad Business Group, Al Futtaim Watches and Jewellery, Al Ghandi Electronics, JW Marriott Hotel, Renaissance Hotel, SNTTA Travel & Tours, Abela, African & Eastern, Al Jaber Optical Centres, Compume, Al Ansari Exchange, Bin Hendi Cafes and Emirates Post.