What do you feel were some of the factors that contributed to your winning the Program of the Year Freddie Award?
First of all, we have very attainable elite levels. Starting at 15,000 flight miles for Ascent status and 25,000 flight miles for Summit status, members get to our top level when in most programs they are just getting in the front door. We also have redemptions of 15,000 miles (within the contiguous U.S. and Canada) and 25,000 miles to Alaska or Mexico. But most of all we listen to our members and we made subtle tweaks to the program last year that made a lot of sense to them.
EarlyReturns has been around for six years now. Is there any pressure to change your award chart? With a 15,000 domestic award, are you finding it difficult to manage the inventory?
It’s a challenge for every airline to manage their redemption inventory, especially with load factors as high as they are. With that said, we are constantly working with our Revenue Management team to provide as much availability as we can. Our redemption chart is something that sets us apart from other airlines and we’ve built the program around our low redemption levels. But the industry is very competitive and there are some great redemption models in the market. Although we don’t have any plans to change from our current 15,000/25,000 model, we are always looking at the competitive landscape to find ways to improve the program and offer our members the most value for their miles.
How successful is your More Store online auction? What items have been most popular? Do you have any plans to extend it to regular members instead of offering it to elite members only?
We think the More Store has been very successful. After we launched our site other airlines jumped on the bandwagon –so if imitation is the best form of flattery, then we are very flattered others have followed our lead in this category. We’re proud to have offered our members a diverse selection of aspirational experiences and luxury items via the More Store site. Many exciting auctions such as seats on the glass for a Colorado Avalanche hockey game, taking batting practice with the Colorado Rockies, Marriott Hotel & Spa Certificates, trips to London on British Airways, and John Atencio designer jewelry can be attributed to strong partnerships that Katie Fay, our Partnership Manager, has facilitated on a local and national level. However, one of our most popular auctions was undoubtedly one of our own creations: “The Frontier Experience”. This day-long event allowed for two winners and guests to take a behind the scenes tour of how Frontier Airlines runs daily operations at DIA. It also included two hours of “drive time” in our Airbus 319 flight simulator and lunch with our CEO Jeff Potter.
Unlike some airlines we don’t have a first class cabin for our members to use miles for upgrades. The More Store has turned into our first class cabin and right now we think that is the best place for it to live.
At one time, you partnered with Continental and you recently added AirTran, do you have any information about upcoming partnerships you can tell us about? Any international partners?
We have been very pleased with the success of our AirTran partnership to date. Just as we’ve been open to new ideas and opportunities in the past, we remain open and excited about new airline alliances and an increased breadth of network in the future.
Can you share with members of EarlyReturns some of what’s in store for them in the upcoming year?
We have a few things in store for our members this year. We are looking at ways to improve the availability of redemption seats, we plan to add a few Web site features that will enhance our members’ experience and possibly a few more changes along the way. But most of all we want to make the program valuable for our members and everything we do has that end goal in mind.