For the second time, British Airways' Executive Club has taken the accolades as South Africa's most highly-rated frequent flyer programme in a study of South African rewards programmes, conducted jointly by business intelligence firm Razor's Edge and World Wide Worx.
The study, entitled 'Value in Loyalty Programs Survey 2005', is the partners' third annual study of South African loyalty programmes. It found that SAA's Voyager frequent flyer programme, despite having become South Africa's most popular rewards currency, offered lower returns than its competitors in two key measures used in the survey: Return on Spend (RoS) for flights and Return on Transaction Value (RoTV) for credit card partners.
"We developed these metrics to assist the public in choosing loyalty programmes based on real value rather than the promise of loyalty points for their own sake," said Bruce Conradie, managing director for Razor's Edge. "Loyalty programmes need to deliver on their promises if they want to earn true loyalty."
Apart from frequent flyer programmes, four other categories were covered in the survey: Financial services programmes, Retail programmes, Multi-sector programmes and Travel and leisure programmes. Each rewards programme was evaluated according to 19 criteria, including cash value, reward choice and appeal, and attainability of rewards.
The most highly rated programmes in each category were:
- Financial services programmes: eBucks, which offers the greatest number of earning opportunities, including earning on home loan balances and cheque account transactions.
- Frequent flyer programmes: BA Executive Club, which edged out Virgin's Flying Club because it had more financial services partners, a choice of credit card partners, and advantages in rising through tier status.
- Retail programmes: Exclusive Books Fanatics, mainly because it offers a higher earning rate than its main competitor, Clicks ClubCard, despite the lack of popularity of the practice of expiring awards after a short period.
- Multi-sector programmes: AgriBonus, which rewards high volumes of business spend, giving its members a points earning power that is well above that enjoyed by the other category contenders.
- Travel and leisure programmes: Southern Sun Frequent Guest, which exceeds the offering of other programmes in many ways, including a high RoS (10% minimum) and excellent value-added benefits.
"The best rewards programmes are designed for both reward and convenience," said Winnifred Knight, a leading marketing consultant who contributed to both the structure and content of the survey. "When programme owners use reward points merely as bait, and then make it difficult to redeem awards, they end up in damage control mode rather than reaping the benefits of loyalty."
The complete report is available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format, accompanied by a related Excel spreadsheet, at a cost of R6,600 excluding VAT (approximately 600 or US$1,100).