Gabriela Fernández
Commercial Vice President
Club Premier
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View from the Top

Travel Rewards Program Thrives Through Diversification

By Sofía Hanna | Fri, 04/08/2022 - 10:11

Q: How did the company change its strategies following the pandemic and what challenges did you find in attracting new members?

 A: Club Premier is a loyalty program born out of Aeroméxico’s Frequent Flyer program. Eleven years ago, we became a loyalty program for over 90 companies. This helped us during the pandemic because, although Club Premier is heavily based on tourism, we also work with companies that provide services that are relevant for our clients’ day-to-day life. The program allows associates to collect points through various daily activities that can then be later exchanged for travel experiences or other products.

When travel halted, we were able to keep the program active through other industries, such as retail or finance. Many of our strategies were adjusted because we were mainly known for our travel services so we had to change our communication strategy to keep our members updated on what was happening in the traditional travel segment and to provide follow-ups with customers whose travel plans had been canceled.

 

Q: How does Club Premier participate in turning flights and travel into an experience beyond transportation?

A: Our clients have a diverse and changing profile. Previously, many frequent flyers traveled for business and saved points for family vacations. Now, points-exchange behavior has completely changed. Besides travel, clients can reserve hotels and rent cars, among many other services. We also try to generate specific events to provide clients with experiences they cannot buy, such as special flights or treatment and surprises before, during and after the flight.

 

Q: What has Club Premier been able to offer customers through retail rewards?

A: We have alliances with e-commerce companies like Linio, which is taking off following the e-commerce boom that took place during the pandemic. We have started to place a greater focus on bringing products to people, even supermarket items, using the platform. We have alliances with Librerías Gandhi, Luna and gas stations, such as G-500, among other companies. Daily activities generate points and keep clients active in the program, which is important.

Points only remain active if the user is participating. If they stop participating for over two years, their points can expire. These alliances allow clients to continue using the program and keep their points. We have also started offering online rewards, for example with MasterClass. We are now offering numerous in-person rewards and have reactivated our travel programs but the virtual aspect has stayed because many individuals have changed their lifestyles and want to be able to choose between in-person and remote rewards.

 

Q: What are the main benefits that companies get by allying with the Club Premier program?

A: Club Premier has a base of over 7 million members due to a wide array of alliances and services. It also has a deep knowledge of members preferences as we can monitor their behavior in different areas. We see how they travel and to where their online purchases and credit usage. We use the information to create a database that we can offer to our allies, allowing them to access information about what their clients are looking for. The use of Premier points increases engagement and client retention while boosting sales. This database is maintained in-house and it is part of the company’s capital, so it is deeply valued.

We are also allied with many banks, allowing the transference of points from their reward programs to Club Premier. We also work with the main hotel chains and allow clients to transfer their points to Club Premier to generate points faster.

 

Q: What role does Club Premier play in incentivizing travel?

A: We have seen a change in travel trends. Most of our passengers used to travel for business but they are changing their behavior. Travel frequency has reduced but the time of stay has greatly increased. Many studies have found that remote work has allowed workers to travel without disrupting their job, which has resulted in longer stays and given us the opportunity to offer different benefits and more space for family travel.

Even when there were flying restrictions, travel continued because people would travel by land. We saw a great increase in car rentals during the pandemic, especially among younger generations who because of their lifestyles are less likely to own a vehicle. We also saw this trend through our alliance with Uber. A return to the past model for business travel, in which travelers went to a meeting and returned the same day, is unlikely. We are seeing an increase in travel for summits and conferences as people still prefer to network face to face, while other events, such as monthly team meetings, continue to happen online. Some companies have even reduced their travel budgets.

 

Q: How is Club Premier facing the talent shortage and retaining its team members?

A: We have always been a small company. Despite being part of Aeroméxico, we operate as a separate company. Now we are about 130 employees, but the company started with 30 employees, most of them young because we focus on technology, data handling and marketing. We have had the good fortune to invite quality employees and find young, enthusiastic talent. Club Premier faces a significant amount of talent poaching as our employees are highly sought out by other industries, but we have been working to retain them because our main strength is our team. One of the employee benefits we offer is their own bag of points so they too can experience the program.

 

Q: What are your plans for 2022 and what expectations do you have for the recovery of the industry?

A: We have seen a significant recovery in overall travel, with business travel the only sector that is not expected to recover until 2024. People are traveling and returning to normal. The industry is expected to recover in 2022 and even grow.

 

Club Premier, with over 6.7 million registered members, is the operator of Aeroméxico’s frequent flyer program. The company offers benefits to passengers from over 100 affiliated businesses.

Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Journalist and Industry Analyst