“InterMiles represents a valuable currency for everyday lifestyle needs of our members”

Loyalty programmes have been one of the important promotional tools for marketers to engage with their audience and build the brand. The reason why loyalty programmes work is that they make the customers feel recognised and special, which further leads to retention, more referrals and profits. Rewarding customers for their loyalty and frequent engagement with the brand can help distinguish the brand from other competitors and also make customers feel valued.

InterMiles (formerly JetPrivilege), a leading Travel and Lifestyle Rewards Programme, has been running several interesting and engaging loyalty programmes for their clients. Its ubiquitous rewards and recognition currency, also called InterMiles, helps its 10 million-plus InterMiles members fulfil their travel and lifestyle aspirations. The InterMiles programme empowers and rewards its members for all their travel and lifestyle needs as well as for their daily activities. This includes everything from shopping to dining and fueling up, or any spends done using the InterMiles co-branded cards, be it for flight bookings, hotel stays and a lot more. Members can redeem these accumulated miles for online subscriptions, merchandise, free fuel, dining, and free flights across airlines as well as free hotel stays.

In conversation with Adgully, Ashish Dhruva, Senior Vice President – Marketing and Customer Engagement, InterMiles, explains how they have been constantly innovating and introducing new usage opportunities for members to earn more miles on every spend, gearing up for changes in consumer behaviour triggered by the global pandemic.

Loyalty programmes are a very important marketing tool for brands to build and grow. What is the differentiation that InterMiles offers, which helps brands to stay connected with its members?

InterMiles has, over the years, evolved into a daily lifestyle rewards programme and a new age ubiquitous digital currency, which can be earned and redeemed across experiences, products and services beyond travel. With our strong member-first approach, we continually focus on adding value to their ongoing experience with us and introducing engagement opportunities that would be relevant to their daily lifestyle, including essential, everyday utilities as well as long-term aspirational needs.

The pandemic has greatly transformed consumer behaviour, preferences and needs. Having a constant finger on the pulse of our members, we are dedicated to complement these evolved needs. In June 2020, we introduced InterMiles Everyday, presenting an expanded range of opportunities that enables members to broad base their earning potential of the digital rewards currency, InterMiles. InterMiles Everyday enables members to earn assured InterMiles as they conduct their daily transactions via our App and engage with various aspects of the programme. We have strengthened our partnerships in categories like e-learning, online subscriptions, healthcare, fitness, and knowledge series-led webinars, amongst others to successfully create a robust ecosystem through which our members can constantly earn and redeem InterMiles. Our ability to add value to and make our members’ everyday lifestyle a rewarding one makes our programme unique.

We are living in a new normal and there is a behavioural shift that happened across sectors. How is this impacting your overall business?

Digitalisation was rapidly venturing into every segment even before COVID-19. Following the pandemic, this shift has been further accelerated as more consumers across demographics & geographies have begun to grow increasingly comfortable with using online platforms for all their needs including entertainment, daily essentials, healthcare, and e-learning. This has led to the digitalisation of everything – right from banking and payments to even virtual travel and education experiences. The InterMiles mobile application was launched in February 2020 offering members the ease of accessibility to premium, personalised experiences at their fingertips. Since its launch, our mobile app has witnessed phenomenal month-on-month increase in member traffic and engagement. Our overall member base as well has seen tremendous growth with an encouraging rate of monthly new member sign-ups. Presently, the programme boasts of a steadily growing base of over 10 million members.

You need intense customer engagement to woo your members in loyalty programmes. What kind of engagement strategy do you have in place to stay connected with your audience?

Our major focus area continues to be educating our members about diverse ways to engage with the programme to ensure they derive the most value from it. We want members to embrace the programme, and make it their own. Towards that goal, we are looking at providing both – best in class experiences via technology and ample room for customization. We are focusing on aggressively promoting the InterMiles App, which has an engaging user interface and makes it simpler for members to access our wide range of offerings across travel, shopping, dining, lifestyle and daily utility. Our member communication channels, including our social media platforms, continue to educate members about our evolved product offerings to elevate their experience and engagement with the programme.

We have recently introduced ‘Save with Miles’, a unique, industry-first redemption option that offers members assured savings on their payments every time they shop through InterMiles to purchase flight tickets, avail accommodation, pay for their dining bills or purchase vouchers. This feature grants our members the freedom to choose how they want to use their earned Miles.

There are a couple of large product innovations, announcements and partnerships, which we will be announcing soon. These launches aim at offering our members more value in terms of benefits and Miles usage opportunities and an overall more enriched, seamless experience with the programme.

During these times, which are the sectors where sales are happening and people are leveraging reward points? How has e-commerce benefitted when it comes to rewards points?

Apprehensions of stepping outside and lockdown norms across India have tilted the nation towards e-commerce. Consumers are increasingly identifying the unique benefits of price and convenience of shopping online. A recent Shopify survey revealed that 86% of Indians have adopted online shopping during the pandemic, indicating accelerated adoption of e-commerce across age groups. Our InterMiles Consumer Spending Sentiment Index highlighted that the importance of rewards points increased in 2020, as opposed to 2019 for over 65% of respondents. To keep up with the steep demand and towards carving a unique identity for themselves in the excessively competitive e-commerce space, platforms are recognising loyalty points as an effective tool to reward & retain consumers.

Keeping up with such evolving demands of our members, in December 2020, we launched InterMiles Digi Stores as a way to enable a truly Omnichannel experience. Our members have been able to use their Miles to purchase value-beneficial vouchers, which can be used across brands like Amazon and Flipkart.

Is there a rise in new member establishments associating with your rewards program? Is there any membership drive happening to increase more participation in your loyalty programmes?

In early 2020, we launched the InterMiles mobile application on Google Play Store for Android users and iOS App Store for Apple users, allowing our members to earn rewards at the touch of a few buttons. Through the InterMiles app, we have successfully been able to drive new member enrolments as well as considerably increase engagement for our existing member base. Presently, we have over 150 brands partnering with the programme and our teams continue to identify additional partnerships that would add value to our members. We have been constantly innovating and adding new features/ sub-platforms to make InterMiles the digital currency of choice driving loyalty enabled commerce. Our differentiated member experience and value across a captive ecosystem of products, platforms and partnerships is what sets us apart from other programmes.

Are your loyalty programmes customised based on each brand? How do you go about designing your loyalty programme to bring traction for members and help them enjoy the rewards and stay loyal to the brand?

KPMG International’s recent report, The Truth about Customer Loyalty, has highlighted that 61% of Indian loyalty programme members feel that they belong to too many programmes. As a result, these individuals not only lose track of their points, but may also forget their memberships altogether and finally lose interest in making an effort to earn rewards, no matter how simple the process may be.

InterMiles is an everyday lifestyle reward and loyalty platform offering customised experiences, value, personalisation and convenience to every member. The programme, today, offers the unique benefit of accelerating InterMiles accumulation through engagements across 10+ categories and 150+ programme partners. Over the last six years, we have established a clear, differentiated growth strategy to make our programme the ubiquitous reward currency of choice. We represent a valuable and rewarding currency for everyday lifestyle needs of our members. By making every spend count, InterMiles encourages smart spending behaviour among members. Members also benefit from dual-earning opportunities – Miles earning + benefits offered by the partner, while engaging with an InterMiles partner through the InterMiles platform. This in turn also accelerates their tier growth within the programme giving them access to a host of additional benefits and privileges as per the tier category members fall under.

Exclusive invitations to events, early access to products and priority customer service are privileges that members seek along with the opportunity to earn loyalty points for unrestricted future use/ spends. These ultimate drivers will encourage consumer stickiness even in the presence of multiple other brands offering similar propositions.

You also have some global clients in your portfolio. Could you share some successful loyalty brand programmes and campaigns for clients in the international market, which have worked very well?

The key to success in loyalty is staying constantly connected with the evolving needs of the members. A successful loyalty programme continually works towards creating convenient, value-centric engagements for diverse consumer sets. Brands must observe each of these engagements as opportunities to create a “wow” experience for members.

Additionally, with digitalisation carving its way into the consumers’ daily lifestyle, even more so following the pandemic, having a digital-first approach is critical for all brands. Apart from offering timesaving and convenience benefits, digital channels are easily accessible and offer better safety as well as an overall brand experience.

Summing this up, brands that provide clear value, convenient navigation, relevant solutions and digital touchpoints stand to gain the most from their loyalty programmes.


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