Recently, the Indian international airline, Jet Airways, has been a frequent in the news after it halted all flight operations indefinitely on April 17, 2019. The news was an upset for many, especially JetPrivilege (JPPL) members - the airlines' frequent-flyer program (FFP) that provides JPMiles (reward points).
The recent print campaign by JPPL, however, does not seem to answer the frequently asked question of how safe the JPMiles that the members collected are.
Zameer Kochar, vice president, marketing and member engagement, JetPrivilege, says, "Our recent campaign coined around the core thought of "JPMiles More Powerful than Ever" seeks to re-assure our members about the innumerable JPMiles earning and redemption opportunities they have even today across 150+ programme partners."
The campaign is live across print, digital and outdoor media including airports.
About the consumer concerns, he tells afaqs!, "The primary communication task on hand for us was to change the perception of our members about the viability and robustness of the programme in the context of the Jet Airways situation. We observed that there were two key areas of consumer sentiments that we had to address pro-actively: (a) JetPrivilege being a separate and an independent entity and continues to exist (b) value of our members JPMiles balances is safe and secure and remains intact."
He adds, "We focused on these key messages and did a series of one-on-one communication with our close to 10 million members through multiple touchpoints, like emailers, SMS, direct mail kits, website, social media, IVR messaging through call centers of JetPrivilege, as well as amplified the same message through our partner network. We also amplified the same message through PR among media and influencers, to help spread awareness resulting in 200+ positive mentions around our key messaging in prominent online and offline media."
A JetPrivilege member earned JPMiles whenever they flew with Jet Airways (till it was in business), Etihad Airways or any of the 25+ airline partners. They can also earn the virtual currency by transacting with any of the 150+ program partners across categories like banking, hotels, retail, and dining.
JetPrivilege was introduced by Jet Airways in 1994. It was hived off as an independent entity in 2014 after Etihad Airways PJSC bought its 50.1 per cent stake. Etihad owns a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways.
As per reports, after Jet Airways announced that it would suspend all operations, JPPL issued a statement saying that the value of their members' JPMiles are secure and remain intact.
"With our air reward offering, 'Select Flights', members have the choice to redeem their JPMiles to fly free across more airlines, any destinations, any flights and any seats in India and globally, starting with the same JPMiles requirement as before which was applicable on Jet Airways and its partner airlines," JPPL said.
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As per JPPL's website, it is an independent, loyalty and rewards management company formed in 2014, post the strategic alliance between Jet Airways and Etihad Airways, to manage, market, operate, and develop Jet Privilege. Post the strategic alliance between Jet Airways and Etihad Airways, JPPL is now a part of the Etihad Aviation Group.
We reach out to experts to understand if the current communication by JPPL is in sync with customer concerns.
The industry speaks
Digital marketer Shubhomoy Sengupta believes that the current communication is not a PR campaign but more of an announcement that JPPL is active and functioning. "To reassure its customer base, the brand could, maybe, change its name (remove 'Jet'). However, I am sure that the brand must have already reached out to customers with details and would have resolved their queries (if any)," he says.
He adds, "The JP program is owned and run by Etihad and not Jet. So there is no liability, as far as I know. Also, the miles can be redeemed across all airlines and hotels, like a credit card. So there's no problem for existing JP customers who are looking for a good deal. The members must already be aware of this."
Amar Wadhwa, founder and executive director, CrystalEyes Brand Consulting, says, "When I saw this ad in a national daily, I was totally aghast. When the airline is going through such a financial mess that it can't fly a plane, can't pay its employees and its owner is under the scanner for misusing funds, then why should it be running this campaign. In all probability, they want to reassure their most loyal consumers that Jet Airways will honour their commitment and retain their loyalty for the future, if and when the brand bounces back. If that was the objective, they should have done it one-on-one, through direct mailers, emailers or through personal calls."
Wadhwa adds, "This extravagance of using expensive media at a time like this is surely going to alienate people like me who have thousands of unclaimed Miles and have been a part of the Jet Privilege program from the very beginning."
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