Loyalty in Africa
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Variety is the spice of loyalty, according to a recent study conducted by Collinson Latitude.

Loyalty members nowadays request more choice of rewards in their redemption programme. When the scope of rewards is expanded beyond simply flights and hotel stays, member loyalty and spending increases, the study shows. More than half of the interviewed travellers for the study said they had redeemed non-core rewards in the past. What’s more is that 42% feel that loyalty programmes who don’t offer a variety of rewards are ‘old fashioned’.

The numbers don’t lie: six in ten travel loyalty members look for programmes with more choice of rewards, and more than seven in ten feel the value of a loyalty programme significantly decreases with a limited range of rewards.

Loyalty programme

Are airlines in Africa listening?

It definitely seems so.

Kenya Airways, Air Namibia, Rwandair and Ethiopian Airlines all offers their clients the possibility to pay for lounge access as well as additional excess baggage allowances with loyalty points or miles.

Arik Air has announced it has plans in place to sign on partners where their clients will be able to spend their miles. These partners will range from hotels to car rentals. For now, the airline offers its loyalty members lounge access and extra baggage allowance, as well as priority check-in.

South African Airways (SAA) that seems to be the airline in Africa that has really diversified its offering towards non-core products, as the airline has started offering travellers more choice for their miles. Suretha Cruse, SAA Executive for Customer Loyalty told us that SAA started expanding loyalty by establishing partnerships and alliances with traditional (travel) and non-traditional partners (credit card, retail and lifestyle).

“From an airline loyalty perspective, it is true that members want more choice for their Miles for redemption purposes. Once non-airline redemption options are expanded beyond the core airline redemption options, member loyalty and spending (earning) indeed increases.”

Also Air Seychelles has diversified its offering, as the Air Seychelles Plus Programme is now fully integrated into the Etihad Guest programme. This means travellers can redeem their miles for flights, products or service from the Etihad Guest Reward Shop.

It can get confusing

Increased complexity with more partners and opportunities can also be confusing, according to Edward Frost, British Airways commercial manager for southern and East Africa. He explains that if clients want to make the most of their loyalty programme it is important that they familiarise themselves with the various partners of the loyalty programme and earn rewards where they can. He says: “If clients need to hire a car, it makes sense to hire it from a programme partner and earn the rewards and also possibly benefits, such as fast-track service or an upgrade due to your tier status.”

A common frustration members have with frequent flyer programmes is that they aren’t able to book redemption flights when they want them,” adds Frost. He says: “One of the reasons for this is every member of the programme, anywhere in the world has access to the redemption seats on a flight. If you leave it until November to try and book a flight to London so you can visit relatives at Christmas, you could struggle. This is because someone visiting South Africa from New York via London booked the seat nine months earlier.”

The universal top tip for booking redemption flights, according to Frost, is to do it as early as possible.