Tracking and controlling spend is a difficult task for many small to medium sized companies but dedicated SME airline loyalty programmes can pay dividends in that respect. In fact, it may be worth joining programmes from all travel suppliers with which you make more than just an occasional booking, as they may offer a rebate on future purchases.
There is plenty of proof of the value of joining: one company made savings of around £175,000 in 2017 from joining a single airline’s loyalty scheme. Another accrued sufficient points to save £3,000 on its accommodation spend in 12 months by redeeming points against hotel vouchers.
Who does what
Many of the airlines run loyalty schemes for SMEs, through which member companies and individuals earn points. These can be gained on the host airline, partners, alliance carriers and at participating hotels, and can be redeemed against flights, upgrades and other rewards.
Some require organisations to appoint a programme administrator as a central contact point – running the programme can be labour-intensive and it is worth involving your Travel Management Company in this – at Travel Counsellors we can help manage your schemes as part of our standard service. In addition, employees can also join an individual frequent flyer programme to benefit from points.
British Airways’ On Business recognises employer and employee with On Business points and Avios respectively and these can be earned and spent on BA, Iberia and American Airlines. Emirates’ business customers join Emirates Business Rewards and individuals benefit from Emirates Skywards points; similarly, Etihad Business Connect is aimed at businesses with from two to 50 employees and both parties earn Etihad Guest miles; Singapore Airlines businesses/individuals earn HighFlyer points/KrisFlyer miles; and Qantas Business Rewards are matched by individuals’ Frequent Flyer benefits.
Virgin Atlantic this year joined Air France-KLM’s bluebiz scheme, which also applies to travel on Delta Air Lines and Kenya Airlines. SME members can earn and burn blue credits with all those carriers and employees earn Virgin Flying Club miles or those relevant to the carrier booked.
Also new this year is Qatar Airways’ Beyond Business, which gives organisations Qrewards, to be redeemed against the cost of flights and benefits such as lounge access; individuals earn frequent flyer miles.
Other schemes to look for are SAS for Business, Lufthansa PartnerPlusBenefit, Star Alliance’s PartnerPlusBenefit, valid on 11 airlines, and United Airlines PerksPlus. It is worth noting that many airlines’ loyalty programmes are worth more than the airline itself and provide a major revenue stream, making members extremely valuable to them.
Three ways to maximise loyalty points
- Use a loyalty based credit card for even the smallest daily spending such as a cup of coffee; it can quickly stack up to worthwhile rewards
- Join the programme whose alliance members fly to where you most visit, ensuring greatest options for earning and redemption
- Keep an eye on points’ expiry dates – Travel Counsellors can ensure you spend them in time and help with any arduous administration of the scheme