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Mega Awards Honors Virgin Blue Velocity as Best Airline Loyalty Program

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Mega Awards Honors Virgin Blue Velocity as Best Airline Loyalty Program
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The Mega Event wrapped up last week in Montreal with the first annual presentation of the Mega Awards honoring the best in airline frequent flyer programs (FFP) and a second day of presentations that covered social media, coalition marketing, and a keynote which unveiled the term “Trustability” from Don Peppers.

Mega Awards were conceived to recognize marketing campaign and product development excellence in the airline industry covering Loyalty, Social Media, and Ancillary Revenue.Freddie Laker hosted the awards evening. A founder of Sapient Nitro and son of legendary airline innovator Sir Freddie Laker, he was so entertaining that an ESPY hosting gig might be in his future.

You’ll have to visit the Mega Awards web site for all the details, but here are three highlights that stood out for me:

Best Merchandising Product
Wessco International won top honors here for creating a co-branded offer that bundled a $10 off $30 coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond with a blanket and neck pillow package sold on board American Airlines. With airlines fracturing the flight experience and turning each piece into a revenue opportunity, passengers need a little incentive to play the game. American Airlines trialed the BBB coupon on its flights and sold over 200,000 units in 6 months, creating ancillary revenue for AA while giving travelers more coupon value than the cost of the blanket and neck pillow kit.

Best in Airline Social Media
Air New Zealand created its AirPoints Fairy as a flighty persona that listens to customers and often grant their wishes – all through the AirPoint Fairy’s Twitter account. There was lots of innovation in this category with Lufthansa’s MySkyStatus allowing people to stay connected within their networks during travel and Volaris and airBaltic using Facebook pages to deliver messages about special fares and generate big chunks of incremental revenue. ANZ leveraged its program to set it apart from competition and illustrated how social media could be used to drive tangible results.

Best in Airline Loyalty
A tough category to judge with many worthy entrants, Velocity, the loyalty program of Virgin Blue, came out a winner. Locked in a dog-fight with rival Qantas, Virgin Blue had 60 days to create and execute a campaign to protect its frequent flyer base in light of market changes impacting how banks would allow consumers to use their credit card rewards points.

The promotion was multi-faceted and included an immediate 25% bonus point award to transfer points to Velocity as well as the chance to win 25 million points – the biggest rewards based prize ever offered in Australia. 25 million points equated to a chance to go into space on the highly publicised Virgin Galactic space ship.

Using the creative premise that Velocity was offering ‘average Joes’ the chance to go into space the campaign told the story from the “civilian” side and that of a disgruntled astronaut. The fictitious astronaut, Sgt Major Scott Petersen, protested in a YouTube video that “space is not for amateurs” and circulated petitions via Facebook pleading for support against “this crazy Velocity promotion that will let mere amateurs go into space”.

The promotion achieved the overall goal of shifting a key segment of bank card point collectors to the Velocity program and notched a 1605% increase in points transfers compared to a non-campaign period.  Points transferred per day increased by over 850% compared to a non-campaign period and approximately 400,000 visitors were attracted to the micro-website.

All costs accounted for, the promotion returned an outstanding 10:1 ROI, enough maybe to even pacify that angry astronaut.

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