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How to Engage Online Customers to Drive Loyalty Redemption

To have a successful loyalty program, airlines need customers not only to enroll, but to start earning and redeeming their points. By making it easy to collect and redeem rewards, airlines can improve results and increase customer loyalty. Hear how airlines are leveraging offer marketing, data and insights to craft personalized experiences that foster loyalty and boost redemption rates, creating an enduring connection that transcends transactional loyalty and increase Customer Lifetime Value.

Full Transcript

Jimena Cesar: So we have today the honor to be here with various team experts from the field of the airline loyalty. We have Leyla and Gabriel here with us. So for the next 30 minutes, we'll be learning and hearing from them on strategies of how to engage online customers to drive loyalty redemption. So, Leyla, Gabriel, it's been a pleasure working with you and an honor to be here with you sharing these next 30 minutes with you. Can you please start us by giving us a brief intros of yourself, and maybe Leyla, you want to kick it off?

Leyla Abullarade: Sure. Well, first, thank you. Thank you for having us here. It's a pleasure. And hello, everyone. I'm Leyla Abullarade, I'm the Digital Channels Development Manager for LifeMiles. LifeMiles is Avianca's loyalty program. And I have over six years working on the digital world and more than 10 years working on the loyalty airline business.

Jimena Cesar: Welcome. Thank you.
Gabriel Tome: Thank you for having me here. I have been working in the industry since 2017. I lost count. And I have been working with PROS for about two years, and we have started for about one year and a half. So now I work as a senior e-commerce analyst and I have UX background, customer experience, and so on.

Jimena Cesar: Great. So in today's digital world, airline loyalty programs face a lot of challenges. Successfully addressing these is going require a very strategic approach that combines technology, data analytics, customer centricity. We also have the need for the agility to adapt to a very fast evolving landscape. And to meet the needs of a customer that changes their mind very quickly, that they know what they want, they want it at the time, but probably they're going to change their minds very quickly. So the loyalty programs have this need to evolve, and as well, it has grown in the importance that it brings to the business of the airline. So as this importance has grown, I think the need for loyalty programs to step up and address these challenges has become even more crucial day to day. So Leyla, Gabriel, could you maybe share with us some of the main challenges that LifeMiles and Azul Loyalty have been facing in the digital world recently?

Leyla Abullarade: Sure, it's true what you're saying. I think in 2024, in this rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, loyalty programs face many challenges. But one of the most prominent is matching user expectations because user expectations have soared. They're comparing our channels to world class applications like Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and they're demanding excellence and unparalleled personalization. So with consumer preference constantly changing, it's crucial for loyalty programs to keep engaging. And navigating these landscapes requires to deliver the right offer to the right customer at the right time. So at the end, the challenge is to stand out, that means first competition by offering personalized experiences and tailored offers that exceed expectations. And at the same time, you need to ensure that these experiences are seamless and flawless, to be honest.

Gabriel Tome: Yeah. I agree with your perspective, and I would like to increment another. We have in Brazil a lot of blogs and specialize it with loyalty pages, and they are giving tips to use your loyalty program better. And I would like to... That they have always recommend our loyalty program but it's not true, they won't do that. And people are searching for that. And I believe that we have so many information in digital world that we are competing with that. We need to get attention for the customer because he has a lot of information on his head and I need to grab his attention.

Gabriel Tome: And how I can do that? How can I explain the loyalty ecosystem? Because it's hard to comprehend especially for new travelers. We have 35% of new travelers every month. And how can I grab their attention to use our program? Yeah. And when you fly, even in cash, you can accumulate points. How can they use those points? And it is possible to accumulate those points and redeem it. And airTRFX can help us to look, you can travel to somewhere because you have this amount of points. So it's to connect this information to make the life of the customer simpler, so I think there's challenges.

Jimena Cesar: So I hear and I think that it resonates through as a theme for the past few days, that it's not only probably for loyalty, but just in general, the industry that faces this like very competitive industry. So we heard it yesterday from like United, Korean, they mentioned that how we are in a very competitive industry where it's fast evolving environment. And I think that it resonates with what you guys just shared, that it's the same for loyalty happens, that you have the need to engage with a customer that's moving quickly, that they're changing their minds.

Jimena Cesar: But still you have the challenge and the... Yeah. To just be out there, expose your benefits, make sure that you're not only sharing the relevant information, but making sure that they have the best deal, in the right time, and that they can know how they can actually make use of their points or miles. So in summary I think that it goes back to some of the themes that we've heard throughout the week where loyalty programs need to follow the personalization, become agile, relevant offers provide brand awareness, but especially have like a strong digital presence, so with all that said Leyla can you share a little bit more of how LifeMiles is leveraging Offer Marketing today to bring you closer to the goals of personalization, strong digital presence, and be relevant and stay relevant to your customers?

Leyla Abullarade: Okay. Well, at LifeMiles we... Hi.

Jimena Cesar: Yeah.

Gabriel Tome: Yeah.

Leyla Abullarade: Okay. Well at LifeMiles we are continuously crafting aggressive redemption offers recognizing the importance of encouraging our members to use their miles. And to effectively communicate these offers we have begun leveraging the airTRFX platform across our site and this platform has allowed us to provide visibility of the offers to our customers through custom pages and allowing them to explore and discover specific destinations that we have prepared for them. So at the end we are facilitating the decision making process and we are giving them options to conveniently redeem their miles and take out the most of the program at LifeMiles.

Jimena Cesar: So particularly in our case, where our case in our partnership we recently launched the basic of the platform. So airTRFX went live, we're still working with some other features like having a module that will go on the user dashboard which would give you more exposure of those relevant offers. What have been the key advantages of you integrating Offer Marketing into your digital strategies?

Leyla Abullarade: Well, we are also investing a lot of efforts in communicate these offers through digital marketing and previously... Well, we are using digital marketing, social media, emails and all these campaigns previously directed the user to the booking to our booking engine and it made sense because it was less clicks but then the user had to decide on the specific destination, the flights, the dates and it can be a lot and then she doesn't have enough miles so she has to start all over again. So we redefine our approach and now we are creating these custom pages and redirecting the user to the pages we are creating so we can give them options and facilitating this decision making process also enhancing the experience and promoting sales. You were talking about the models, the externalized models, we haven't implemented the models yet but we plan to do so in our member pages so we can leverage the visits to our page of the users that they want to know the balance, they want to know how many miles they have, their transactions and push these users to real time offers with destinations we have for them.

Jimena Cesar: I think that's a very powerful use case specifically because loyalty programs also have the advantage that you know a lot of your users, already enrolled loyal members who by signing up they already gave you very valuable information that you can learn from them and then use that in your advantage to tailor the experience, the deals that you're displaying that are specific to their profile, like from populating the preferred airport code, or maybe show deals and promotions that match the amount of points or miles that they have available in their account so as you mentioned Leyla that chart in the path to actually making a conversion you're saving them a step of thinking ahead.

Leyla Abullarade: Definitely.

Jimena Cesar: Gabriel in your... Now, in our partnership it's a little bit different because we started with Azul as primarily focused on the flight side. So flight tickets, cash. And then from learning all the value that Offer Marketing could bring into the business, Azul decided to expand those capabilities as well to the loyalty program. So in your experience can you quickly talk about what were the main benefits that you saw from the offer marketing platform that you could bring and expand into loyalty?

Gabriel Tome: First that's our drive, we drive our customers to have the full experience, so we need to show them how they can buy tickets using cash but we need to do that with points, and hotels, and tickets, and cars, and et cetera et cetera, because we are moving our company to have a unique experience using all of our projects. So our pages in airTRFX must be like that, must be this whole experience as Azul not Azul Loyalty, not Azul Viagens which is the travel the packages, Azul as one. So it makes sense for our strategy to have all in one, in one experience and it's pretty good because we can think about cross channels using our emails to pushes and social ads, et cetera to have... The customers need to know that this brand means not only flights, but everything you have in one. So it's perfect for our decisions, for our strategy.

Jimena Cesar: Perfect. So also I think that you both have been working enough time with us to learn on the processes and what are the benefits that implementing these tools can also bring for you internally in terms of the agility to expand use case, the agility to just, if you have a new deal, to move fast and be out there and make sure that you're moving at the same pace as your customers are requesting it. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Gabriel Tome: Yeah. We have a toggle that you can change cash and points immediately. So you can compare those fares and see if you have the amount of points to use to redeem these flights or you can have it in cash and it's excellent because we need to reduce the effort by buying tickets. I mean, as you said about personalization and we need to reduce efforts because we have a cell phone in his pocket that apps are built to reduce our effort, to make our life simple. So we need to make our customers' life simple because he will be choosing us if we reduce their efforts to reach their goals, which is buying tickets at the end of the day.

Leyla Abullarade: It's true and on the other side, I think other of the primary benefits is being able to allocate development resources to other critical priorities. And this could mean focusing on the development of new features for your redemption flow or creating new benefits for your elite members. At the end, by streamlining the Offer Marketing process, you ensure that you avoid the continuous creation of new landing pages by the hand of your IT resources. And this will drive an overall better customer experience, but at the same time, you are driving innovation to your program.

Jimena Cesar: So I think that with what you've shared, you've not only achieved the agility to be out there in the market in a way that you can compete, but making it easy for the customers to engage with the content and on page, choose what they want to see just with like a click, like Gabriel mentioned with the toggle, but as well, you've become agile internally with the way that you're using your resources.

Leyla Abullarade: Exactly.

Jimena Cesar: So that's the way that you currently are using the offer marketing platform and where you're currently at. So I think the efforts and our loyalty partnership is pretty recent, but still, it's already giving a lot of value just by setting the basis. But where do you see LifeMiles and Azul Loyalty taking their Offer Marketing strategy next?

Leyla Abullarade: Well, I see our ambition or marketing efforts by evolving to inspire especially the new, less traditional, more demanding generations with engaging content and destinations that are prepared for them. And when I say inspire, it's not just giving them a bunch of destination. It's using data to know them and know specific interests they have and use our influencers' content in the same pages to attract the user with people they relate to. So we don't have to just say we have all these destinations, but let other people talk about them and drive them to our pages. Other thing we are planning to do is use these externalized models in partners' pages so we can leverage the traffic from them.

Leyla Abullarade: So I think we have a long path still to leverage all the things we can do with the platform, but we have created a plan to create all these custom pages related to specific interests. This could mean pages for events that have some destinations, or it could be pages for special interests in nature, or maybe children destinations, children-like destinations.

Jimena Cesar: And we're definitely very excited to see what you'll do next with all the tools that you now have to your availability. So we've also... And I know that this was part of our conversations when we were preparing for this session, and you mentioned the value and how important data was to you. So now with the dashboards, I mean, because we've recently gone live, you don't have much historic data yet, but soon you'll be able to learn as well a lot about user and flight data that is going to help you to tailor the offers and the deals to each of the customers, learning from the actual volume and the traffic that you're receiving. So again, tying back to one of the values of the agility that you've been able to unlock with the resources, you'll be able to allocate those resources into becoming more strategic.

Leyla Abullarade: Definitely, and I think it's not just user behavior data. It's also using real-time data from offers from flights of the airline that are with unused capacity. So we are eager to start this project where we can seamlessly connect this data from these flights with low capacity into a page where we can expose all these super-incredible lightning offers and let our users know that they can find them always there. There will always be amazing deals for them, and this will increase our customer engagement or member engagement, but also will ensure the airline's success through ensuring the capacity utilization.

Jimena Cesar: Perfect.

Gabriel Tome: Now it's me?

Jimena Cesar: Yeah.


Gabriel Tome: The next steps, I would say personalization. Yes. I think we are in the same path, because now my promotions with commerce, and deals team are under CRM, which is great, because we are closer to the data right now. So we have a lot of possibilities, and when I see there's a lot of possibilities, it gives me excitement, because we have a lot to do, and we can get even better. And we need to create an environment, cross-channel, and thinking about the customer journey, to see exactly what this specific customer wants at that time. So we need to work on data, to see what his preferences, and then I can offer the best for him. So I would say personalization, using cross-channels, and being more smart when we are offering something to him, to them.

Jimena Cesar: And I think when... I'm glad you brought that up, Gabriel, because it's been... Personalization was one of the pillars that we mentioned at the beginning, when we said, how can we address some of the challenges? So personalization is going to be key for loyalty programs, but it's something shared with the airlines, and it was brought up multiple times throughout the past few weeks, and we even kicked off Monday, sharing some of the new features that Offer Marketing is now having available in the platform. Like for example, with the URL parameters that allow you to send very tailored message upon page load, which is something easy to incorporate. As well, for example, the geolocation feature, which we recently also presented and talked about. So I think that these are exciting features that you'll be able to have in your advantage and give your users a more personalized experience when they're shopping with you.

Gabriel Tome: And which is good, because I think we can do it right now. I don't need to prepare something, because these features are available. So we just set the things up and get started.

Jimena Cesar: Yeah, talk to your CSM.


Jimena Cesar: And also, I think you mentioned about cross-channel. So last, we talked about it briefly, indirectly, but as well, I think that as you're communicating your offers, it's not only setting up the best deals, but as well, how are you going to put it out there to your customers? So I think that, for example, Leyla, now that you have worked very hard to launch the base of the landing pages, and now you have all that available for you to use, now you can integrate Offer Marketing strategies into different marketing channels, like when you're communicating through email, if you have your Facebook database, if you're sending any social communication, or whatever effort you make from marketing, now you can consider these landing pages to be part of that mix.

Leyla Abullarade: Yes, definitely. And I think it's not just redirecting the user from the campaign, which is what we're already doing at this moment, I think it's also using these customized parameters to personalize the landing they're going to arrive, using the data we have, because as Gabriel was saying, as a loyalty program, we have many data from the user. So we can personalize the destination, we can personalize the origin, and hopefully so much more things soon.