Etihad Guest reports rapid growth post-launch
Having been available to consumers for five months, Etihad Guest, the frequent flyer programme of Etihad Airways, has signed up almost 70,000 members from 136 countries, of whom 250 members have already gained Silver elite status and 20 have gained Gold elite status.
According to Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways' head of marketing, the speed at which the programme acquired its first 70,000 active members demonstrates the popularity of the programme and its innovative features (which include the option to redeem rewards using combined miles and cash, with miles varying in actual value on a sliding scale).
Rewards variety The programme provides its members with a range of discounts on services and products including luxury resorts, car rentals, financial services, and cinema tickets. Apart from earning and redeeming miles on Etihad flights, the programme offers a network of international travel and leisure partners including Hertz car rentals and hotel groups such as Hilton and Rotana. According to Etihad, these rewards have been a large part of the programme's attraction to-date.
Members resident in the United Arab Emirates can also now apply for a co-branded HSBC Etihad Guest Card, which allows them to earn miles on all their purchases internationally.
First elite flyers The programme's first UAE-based Gold members (who have each earned at least 50,000 miles with the Abu Dhabi-based airline) enjoy exclusive benefits including 50% more Etihad Tier Miles on every flight and a range of service privileges.
Gold members benefit from smooth journeys with all travel needs being met with great care and attention, including limousine transfers, excess baggage allowances, waitlist priority, and access to Etihad's network of airport lounges. After members have achieved Gold level, they need only 40,000 Tier Miles (or 30 Tier Segments) in each subsequent calendar year to retain their Gold status.
Earning miles Gold members earn 1.5 Etihad Guest Miles for every mile travelled. Benefits include: waitlist priority, guaranteed Coral seat (if booked 24 hours in advance), lounge access, excess baggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding, fast-track immigration and baggage claim, and free limousine transfers.
Silver members earn 1 Etihad Guest Mile for every mile travelled. Their benefits include: wait list priority, guaranteed Coral seat, (if booked 48 hours in advance), lounge access, excess baggage allowance, and bonus Etihad Guest Miles when travelling in the Pearl or Diamond Zone.
All members can earn extra miles through Etihad's partners, which include: SN Brussels Airline, HSBC, Hilton, Kempinski, Radisson, Rotana, Hertz, Europcar, and various UAE based shopping and leisure outlets such as cinemas and resorts.
Valued rewards Before it launched the programme, Etihad carried out its own research into what members would want from a frequent flyer programme. The survey's findings translated into what become "the six pillars of Etihad Guest":
- Immediate rewards, with the 1 Mile Redemption feature (which guarantees that as little as 1 mile can be redeemed, with the remainder of the reward being paid for separately);
- No blackout periods. Guest Seats are available on all flights.
- Anytime availability. All seats, including the very last seat, are available at any time. Members can simply redeem for open seats at a mileage cost equivalent to the commercial price of the seat.
- The widest choice. Members can redeem miles for flights, products or services using Etihad's exclusive Reward Shop.
- Miles+Cash. Members decide how many miles they want to use, and contribute the rest in cash using the Miles+Cash feature (which uses a complex web-based technology provided by Loylogic). Interestingly, members still earn miles on the cash portion of such redemptions.
- Miles that are worth more. Thanks to the Miles+Cash 'value slider', 1 mile can be worth as much as US$100 when redeemed (thanks to an algorithm that considers a range of variables such as the number of points being redeemed and the amount of cash being paid in addition).