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Monday, March 13, 2017

AIR MILES program enhancements coming on April 3



AIR MILES just sent out a press release announcing some changes to the program or as they call it 'enhancements'. Are they enhancements? Yes they are. Are they anything to get excited about? No, not really. Here are excerpts from the press release on the upcoming changes:

Beginning April 3, AIR MILES will be introducing the following enhancements to the Program:
  •  The online merchandise rewards catalogue will be fully accessible to all Collectors, while our most engaged Collectors will be able to access an enhanced tiered pricing structure.
  • Up to 40% of our merchandise will now be available for purchase using credit card and Dream Miles. This “Cash and Miles” feature gives Collectors the ability to attain the rewards they want even faster. 
  • We are expanding our customer service with 24/7 support on Facebook and Twitter. 
Greater rewards for all Collectors
The online merchandise rewards catalogue will now be available to all Collectors. We are also introducing tiered pricing for our most engaged Collectors, enabling them to get rewarded even faster. The more engaged Collectors are with the Program, the more they get out of it. All Collectors will continue to enjoy our already exceptional pricing, while our Gold Collectors will now receive up to 10% off all merchandise, and Onyx™ Collectors will receive up to 20% off.

More choice
The ability to use credit card and Dream Miles is a feature that has been popular with AIR MILES Collectors, because those with lower Miles balances can use fewer Miles to get the rewards they want. We have expanded this option to apply to up to 40% of all merchandise products available in the online merchandise rewards catalogue. As part of this expansion, and in an effort to simplify the rewards categories, we are integrating the current “Member Pricing” products into this option.

A commitment to extended customer service
In an effort to be more responsive to our Collectors’ changing expectations for service, we will be introducing 24/7 customer support through our Facebook and Twitter accounts

We have to give it to AIR MILES that they are trying. They dug themselves into a huge hole last year and are now ever so slowly inching their way up the walls of that hole. First it was the apology letter from earlier this month and now it is these changes. Granted these aren't huge changes, they are better than nothing but do they make the program more appealing? Not really.

The first change that sees the online merchandise rewards being available to all collectors confirms they held awards back. Of course AIR MILES stated that those more engaged in the program saw more rewards and had more options but we all know that was not the case based on our experiences last year. Nonetheless, the entire catalog should now be visible to everyone. No more pulling levers behind the scenes trying to engineer redemption, we hope. Along with this there will now be discounts on that merchandise if you are a Gold or Onyx collector of up to 10 and 20% respectively. If you redeem for merchandise this is good news however if AIR MILES has and will increase the redemption rates on merchandise as we expect them to this only really means that the elite members may just be getting the merchandise at the old redemption rates. It all depends on what the reward pricing is and will be.

The second change sees them expand the cash+miles option for rewards. We've already seen this where some merchandise was able to be redeemed for with fewer miles as long you paid a cash supplement. Cash+miles is becoming more and more popular in the industry to provide more redemption options, especially for those who don't collect as many miles and points as others. In some programs (like hotel reward programs) this type of redemption option can provide great value but what we have seen in the AIR MILES program is that it does not seem to provide very good value. Once again however if you don't have too many miles and want to use them up, using them for a small discount on some merchandise may make sense for you.

Finally the third change is the 24/7 support on Facebook and Twitter. A good move. The more help collectors can get the better. They should also look at expanding customer service hours via the phone. In our experience from call in radio shows, there is good portion of Canada's older population who collect and use AIR MILES but aren't going to go the online route for help. They rely on mail and phone. We heard a lot of complaints from this group so hopefully AIR MILES does not ignore them.

That's it in a nutshell! We'd love to hear all your thoughts on this latest news from AIR MILES! Feel free to comment below or reach out to us on social media and email.


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