The South African Airways’ Voyager program was launched in February of 1994, and combined the existing “frequent flyer programme” (which was based on “rands” for the domestic market) with the “Prestige Club,” (which was based on points for the international First- and Business-class traveller).
In less than six years, Voyager’s membership grew to over 1 million, and now, 10 years after its launch, the program includes 1.5 million members.
As the runaway leader in frequent flyer programs on the African continent, Voyager is now poised to become a major player in the global market.
We spoke to Daleen Theron, Executive Manager of Voyager Marketing, and Beulah Els about the stunning success of the program.
Now that Voyager is 10 years old, do you feel it is a mature program or are your still tinkering with the benefits that you offer your members?
Voyager is still in the growth stage. Yes, we are fairly mature within the South African market, but internationally and within Africa there’s still growth potential.
In the 10-year history of the program — what is the best memory that stands out for the program?
Our Lifetime Platinum status (for retaining Platinum status for five consecutive years) is still a fairly unique feature of our Voyager programs. Therefore, the 1st set of Lifetime Platinum members that were celebrated stands out as one of ‘our’ achievements.
What has been the most unusual challenge you’ve had in seeing Voyager grow to 10 years old?
Merging one of South Africa’s largest Bank’s database of 250,000 members with Voyager.
Are you surprised that other frequent flyer programs have not grown as much as Voyager in the general competitive area of airlines in Africa?
We are the only “true” South African loyalty/frequent flyer programme on the continent, and also the national carrier. We can never be complacent about our position in the marketplace, and have always strived to stay ahead of the few international programmes with South African and African affiliations. We are sure that if the other African carriers had the advantage of the infrastructure and had fewer system challenges, they would have posed more of a threat.
Just like with any birthday — make a wish. OK, what is your wish?
We have 5 million travellers in South Africa and Voyager’s database only holds 1.5 million of these. We’d like the other 3.5 million members!