Virgin America: A Loyalty Program That Elevates Above the Rest
August 6, 2012
At Loyalty Lab, we’ve been lucky to work with some of the most interesting and innovative clients around. We’d like to showcase what makes them, and their loyalty programs, unique. Kicking things off is Virgin America and their Elevate loyalty program.
Creating a loyalty program for a brand like Virgin America is why we love what we do. Talk about a cool airline: since they launched, Virgin America’s young, fun attitude towards flying was pure Richard Branson, and seriously stylish. Purple lights in and lounge music in the cabin? An in-flight interface that allows you to chat the good looking woman in seat 12A? Flying Virgin America reminded us of a time when flying was a glamorous activity worth looking forward to, rather than a frenzied hassle of shoe removal, lack of legroom, and running to make connections.
What’s more, the team at Virgin America made it clear from the beginning that they wanted their Elevate loyalty program to stand out from the rest. Which means that the Loyalty Lab crew got to roll up our sleeves and really think about what other airline programs our lacking. What were our priorities when booking air travel? What would make us want to come back, again and again?
The three major initiatives we came up with, and implemented using TIBCO software, have proven to be hits, considering Virgin America’s loyalty program is the fastest growing one in the industry. And the solutions seem so second nature, it’s no wonder.
First: there are no blackout dates or restrictions. You want to use your Elevate points to book a flight over Thanksgiving weekend? Go for it! Blackout dates over high-traffic travel times may make sense for an airline focused on profit and profit alone, but not for an airline looking to build their customers’ loyalty. Plus, every seat is fair game for points redemption, not just those middle seats in the back row. What good is it to be in with the in-crowd if you’ve got the worst seat in the house?
Second: point values are transparent and dynamic. Your Elevate balance will flourish whether you fly to LA or to Cabo; you earn points when you use your Virgin America credit card, book a hotel room or rental car, or shop with one of our partners. You know exactly how many points you have, and how many you earn. And if the dollar fare goes up, so do the number of points you earn.
Third: redemption is a painless process. Hate sitting on hold, trying to get an airline representative to explain why your points aren’t working? So do we! Never again with Elevate. When booking travel, you can view the cost of each flight in dollars or points. The more a flight costs, the more points are needed — there’s no hidden restrictions here.
Using these three points as our foundation, we’ve loved seeing customers respond positively, and have also taken the opportunity to listen to their feedback. Elevate members expressed a desire for ‘tiers’ in the loyalty program: if you’re earning 50,000 points per year, you certainly should be rewarded.
Starting August 8, Virgin America is introducing Silver and Gold levels to the Elevate program, and will include perks such as upgrades, priority booking and boarding, and complimentary checked bags. Virgin is also stepping up their mobile game: Elevate Elites will be able to benefit from making use of social media. By checking in to gates and terminals on Instagram, Twitter, or Foursquare, they’ll earn double points. Really, the tiers are Virgin America’s way of showing love to their loyal customers — which is exactly what we like to see.
Virgin America has generally proved to be ahead of the game when it comes to today’s airlines, and the success of their loyalty program speaks to this. They seem to have a better insight into what customers need: choose-your-own-adventure entertainment choices, fresh and healthy meal options, wireless access in-flight, and a clean and usable mobile interface. This kind of creativity is exactly what loyalty programs need, according to a recent report done by the Aberdeen Group.
The Virgin America experience has always aimed to make everyone who flies feel like a VIP. But we love just how much their Elevate program emphasizes this: entry to exclusive events, great deals on flights, and the freedom to use your points as you choose. If the customer is meant to be king (or queen), Elevate actually delivers on this promise by making its loyal fliers feel like royalty.
Read more about our work with Virgin America and the success of Elevate in our Customer Success Story, here. And keep up on all of the great things Virgin America is doing by following @virginamerica, @richardbranson and @loyaltylab.
You Might Like:
- Presentation On-Demand: Virgin America
- Whitepaper: The Loyalty Imperative: No Longer An Option
- TIBCO Loyalty Lab 12.3 release enhances real-time offers and increases value and convenience for shoppers (Loyalty Lab Blog)
- The Power of Analytics to Drive Loyalty: Desires vs. Capabilities in Analytics (Loyalty Lab Blog)
- A Look at Mobile — Why Don’t More Carriers Have Loyalty Programs? (Loyalty Lab Blog)
- Offers Looking for People, and People Looking for Offers (Loyalty Lab Blog)
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