Loyalty takes flight at JetBlue

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Loyalty takes flight at JetBlue
Loyalty takes flight at JetBlue

JetBlue's director of loyalty marketing and partnerships, Dave Canty, discusses how the TrueBlue program has evolved to meet customers' needs. 

Q: Why did you decide to upgrade your loyalty program?

A: TrueBlue was initially developed eight years ago as more of a customer gratitude program than your traditional frequent flier loyalty program. Over time, we have outgrown it. It wasn't built with a lot of scalability. In early 2009, we recruited an online customer panel to give us insight and asked them what they would create if they built a program from scratch. We listened to what they told us and tried to take the program onward from there.

Q: What are some of the things we'll see when it launches in two weeks?

A: The most significant change is that we are moving away from a distance-based program to a dollar-based program. So essentially, you are getting rewarded for every dollar that you spend on JetBlue, as opposed to how far you are flying.

Q: How will you tell customers and prospects about these changes?

A: We've done some prelaunch communications to our customer base. We sent an e-mail driving them to a microsite that gives them some basic information on what to expect from the program, as well as an e-mail campaign explaining how their existing balances in the old program work with the new program.

Q: What is your overall e-mail strategy?

A: Part of creating a full communications strategy was making a more robust program for our TrueBlue members. They are a very large percentage of our customer base. We brought [e-mail marketing company] e-Dialog on to help us communicate with our customers. We are incorporating all of the new data that we are capturing from this program to help us develop a multifaceted e-mail program.Right now we e-mail about once or twice a week, not always to our full base. Currently we don't do a lot of serious targeting, mostly because we don't capture that much information. We are adding more preference captures for our subscriber base to help us with targeting and segmentation going forward.

Q: What kinds of targeting will you do?

A: Today we know the home airports of our customer base. But we are going to compile more intelligence around where these customers want to fly. We want to make sure that whatever information we are putting in that e-mail is relevant to that specific customer.

Q: Is this revamp a response to the travel sector being hit by the bad economy?

A: That is more incidental. We've done the planning for the evolution of TrueBlue over the last two years, so it is kind of coincidental. What we wanted to do was to become more relevant to customers and bring more utility to the frequent flier.

Q: Are frequent flier programs becoming more relevant to airlines as a whole?

A: Yes. Airlines are starting to realize they have a wealth of data that they possibly haven't used before. Now they are going deeper into those databases finding out a little bit more about their customers and where they want to go and they are getting better with marketing messages.

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