American Airlines Invites Best Customers to e-Rewards

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American Airlines, though close to bankruptcy, is proceeding with plans to encourage its best frequent fliers to participate in a third-party loyalty program called e-Rewards.

Select AAdvantage program members now can earn miles for reading and responding to e-mail offers from other e-Rewards participating advertisers. In return, 1 million consumers who already are e-Rewards members can earn AAdvantage bonus miles for participating.

"We're always looking to offer new ways to our members to earn miles, and this is something that's different," said Tim Kincaid, manager of corporate communications at American, Fort Worth, TX.

The airline sent e-mail invitations to these AAdvantage members. It would not disclose the number. Clicking on the embedded link takes consumers to the e-Rewards landing page. There they have to go through the enrollment process to complete a member profile.

Consumers are asked to volunteer information, including ZIP code, gender and contact details. A welcome gift of e-Rewards dollars is offered as a thank-you for those who walk through the process.

"It's a fairly comprehensive survey to complete marketing data," said Bill Russo, general manager of e-Rewards Inc., Dallas.

E-Rewards also can be earned by participating in research surveys about new products, services and marketing offers.

These credits can be redeemed for AAdvantage bonus miles as well as rewards like ski-lift tickets and discounts toward car and video rentals, and designer handbags.

Other companies that invited customers to participate in e-Rewards include Blockbuster Corp.,, Hilton Hotels, Vail Resorts and Hertz.

Recent offers included one from Dell Computer Corp. for its computers, Dow Jones & Co. for new Wall Street Journal subscriptions, Office Depot for direct ordering and Mercedes-Benz to contact nearby dealers.

E-mails sent to e-Rewards users are screened to match member interests. Advertiser interests are protected; so, members signed up from Blockbuster's list will not receive offers from a competing video-related product or service.

Advertisers pay to participate in e-Rewards, and market researchers pay to conduct research. E-Rewards is designed to let participating advertisers build their e-mail file, then market against it.

"Each of the participating companies help fill the lake, and then each of them gets to fish in the lake," Russo said. "It's both targeted advertising and promotions via e-mail and market research as well."

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