Club Vistara to have chart-based redemptions

Ever since Vistara took wings, one of the questions I’ve been asked is how does the loyalty program, Club Vistara, work? I’ve been able to piece together the earning part of Club Vistara. Eventually, since there were no hints or announcements about how does redemptions on Club Vistara work, I reached out to Vistara executives to ask about the redemption plans for Vistara’s loyalty program.

To put it in context, there are 3 kinds of loyalty program models prevailing in the industry:

  • Mileage based: Where you earn miles basis number of miles you fly, usually 100% of miles flown, and redeem on the airline metal or other airlines using a chart which calculates what is the price for a redemption. Award seat inventory is limited, and managed by the airline. Take Jet Airways’ JetPrivilege as an example.
  • Revenue based: Here, the revenue you give the airline depends on the amount you spend to buy your ticket, and the class of booking. For redeeming, every seat is an award seat, and you’re basically getting a fixed point value for your points/miles earned on the carrier. For instance, you can buy a $144 fare for 14400 points, so each point is 1 cent in value. Think Southwest Rapid Rewards and TrueBlue as examples.
  • Hybrid: These are programs where you get to earn your miles basis the class of fares you buy, called RBDs (Reservation Booking Designator) in aviation parlance. So, if you buy a deep discounted ticket, you get less points/miles and if you buy a higher fare, you get more points/miles. However, to redeem, you need to depend on a chart that is published by the loyalty program to be able to burn. Hence, for lower revenue, you need to do more flights to earn your award flight. Think Delta SkyMiles 2015.

What Vistara has done is to take the earning model of a revenue-based program, and they will offer you points as per the amount of money you spend on their flights and your loyalty tier.

For burning,  however, they are still building the systems to make redemptions happen. It is their expectation that by the end of this quarter, i.e., by March 2015, they will have redemption capabilities in place. This means, you will be able to call and redeem for award flights. By end of the next quarter, they expect to go live with an online award booking module on their website.

I did want to find out about how does burning on Vistara work, and I was informed that the airline will be publishing award charts when they are ready to accept redemptions. Also, award inventory will be managed, which means not all seats are available for rewards.

What all this means, is that you’d be jumping a few hoops to be able to make redemptions on Club Vistara.

Partnerships: Vistara is working out the details of their partnerships with Singapore Airlines and Silk Air, and these partnerships will offer earn and burn both ways. Details expected in the coming day. They are working on a credit card partnership as well, but there are no timelines to when it materialises.

Clearly, Vistara’s approach is new, but the entrenched players are not sitting queitly, and are already upping the game with loyalty programs being one of the tools for their program to retain frequent flyers in their fold.

What are your thoughts on Club Vistara?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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