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Virgin Australia Publishes Research on What Australian Frequent Flyers Really Want


SYDNEY, 29 November 2011: New research released today by Virgin Australia shows that non-flight rewards such as retail purchases are almost as popular among Australian frequent flyer program members as flight rewards.

The research, which canvassed the opinions of a broad cross-section of Australians1, also found that being able to automatically pool points with family members was the most appealing way to improve frequent flyer schemes.

Virgin Australia General Manager of Velocity Frequent Flyer, Phil Gunter said the results demonstrated that Australians were looking for rewards programs that offer a range of different ways to earn and redeem points and that are relevant to their everyday lives.

"With almost 50% of those surveyed saying flight rewards were the most appealing aspect of Frequent Flyer programs, it’s clear that having good value flight rewards and a comprehensive network are important. However, it’s also interesting to note that non-flight rewards such as retail purchases were almost just as popular, with 43% of respondents ranking them as the most appealing aspect".

Mr Gunter said that recent changes to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program specifically addressed both these points.

"Our recently relaunched Velocity Frequent Flyer program offers an extensive global network, which enables Members to earn and redeem Points on more than 600 services internationally. In addition to this, Velocity Frequent Flyer now has the widest retail offering of any frequent flyer program in Australia".

"This means that Members can earn and redeem Points in almost every facet of their life, from paying their energy bills (Lumo Energy), using their credit card (AMEX), doing their shopping online (Westfield online), to organising their comprehensive car insurance (Virgin Money)".

The survey also revealed that Australians believe that being able to pool points with family members (47%) and purchase guaranteed seats (35%) are the most appealing ways to improve frequent flyer schemes.

Mr Gunter said that new features of the program that launched just this month unlocked a world of new opportunities and rewards for families.

"For the first time in Australia, Members can now automatically pool the Points and status credits of all their family members into one account, enabling them to capitalise on the benefits. 

"We know that travelling isn’t always a first priority for those expecting a new addition to the family, which is why our Members can now take parental leave for 6 months, after which they can pick up where they left off with their membership intact.

"In addition to this, Gold and Platinum Members can have complete peace of mind knowing they are guaranteed return Reward Seats for an annual family trip.

"There are a range of other new benefits we have introduced to reward families. We will continue to review the program to ensure it remains relevant and valuable for Australians" Mr Gunter said.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • More than 9 million Australians are members of a frequent flyer scheme.
  • 80% of scheme members are unsure as to exactly how many frequent flyer points they have.
  • For those who find the ability to redeem points for flights the most appealing part of frequent flyer schemes, the majority prefer to use points for longer international flights (29%) rather than shorter flights (19% of those surveyed).
  • For the majority of scheme members (71% of those surveyed), the ability to earn frequent flyer points is more important than status benefits (14% of those surveyed).
  • When faced with different payment options, as many as 61% of frequent flyer scheme members are more likely to pay with a credit card, in order to earn points. 

Other family benefits available to Velocity members include:

  • Family-friendly lounge access: Platinum members can invite up to three additional guests into the Virgin Australia lounge, whilst Gold members can invite one additional guest. In addition to this, both Gold and Platinum members can take up to two children under the age of 12 into the lounge with them.
  • Companion Gold and Platinum membership: Platinum members can now gift a Companion Gold or Companion Platinum membership once they earn an additional 1,500 or 2,000 Status Credits respectively within their membership period.
  • Points transfer: Members can continue to transfer Velocity Points from their membership Account to the Account of an eligible family member up to four times per year.

In August 2011, Virgin Australia re-launched Velocity Frequent Flyer to create a program that offers global flight coverage with over 600  services around the world, enhanced flight rewards with more options to redeem Points for seats, a new Platinum level of membership and over 380 program partners, including credit cards and retail partners.