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WebMiles Goes Offline With Avis

WebMiles Corp., a Web-based unrestricted mileage reward program, said today it has formed a partnership with Avis, its first offline partner.

WebMiles offers its members the chance to earn frequent flyer miles for shopping at more than 60 online stores, including SharperImage.com, MarthaStewart.com and Disney.com. The miles can then be converted into free or discounted travel on all flights on all airlines.

Avis, Garden City, NY, is the first of what will likely be many offline partners.

“The strategy has always been to bring the program to customers in a wide variety of places where they could earn WebMiles — the places they spend every day,” said Jennifer Case, vice president of marketing at WebMiles Corp., Salt Lake City. “We know the majority of spending still occurs offline. It's important to have multiple ways to earn, to get those consumers and members flying. It's important that these people feel the effects of their loyalty.”

The company's goal is to offer its rewards currency at one exclusive vendor in a variety of categories rather than signing up Hertz, Enterprise and all other car rental agencies.

“We're looking to give our partners a strategic advantage,” Case said. “We're limiting the number of partnerships to make them strategic and exclusive in nature.”

WebMiles is looking to partner with companies in the grocery, long-distance telephone and electronics arenas among others.

The Avis partnership kicks off Aug. 15. Avis will offer its customers 50 WebMiles rewards per day for qualifying car rentals at its more than 1,000 rental locations in the United States and Canada.

To generate interest in its program, WebMiles launched Monday its Million Miles Mania Contest. Entrants must submit a 500-word-or-less Flight Plan essay discussing how they would spend their 25,000 to 1 million WebMiles.

The contest's judge is David Phillips. Phillips has earned more than 2.25 million frequent flyer miles through a variety of programs. Most notably, he bought 12,000 cups of chocolate pudding to earn his first million.

One person could win all of the 1 million WebMiles or as many as 40 could win 25,000 reward miles apiece. Phillips was chosen because “he represents the strong desire consumers have to acquire frequent flyer miles,” Case said.

WebMiles launched a $15 million consumer marketing campaign last month as well. It includes television, print and outdoor ads aimed at the company's target demographic of affluent, college-educated, working professionals between 25 and 54 years old who use the Internet regularly.

It also launched the WebMiles MasterCard, a co-branded credit card with Metris Cos. Inc., St. Louis Park, MN. It offers users one WebMile for each dollar spent.

Members who earn 8,000 WebMiles are entitled to $100 off any flight. At 15,000 they receive $200 off, and at 25,000, they can fly free in the continental United States. Travel arrangements are booked through Maritz Inc., St. Louis.

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