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The Master Report: Creating a synergistic partnership

This was a sponsored post by Aimia under the Master Report series.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Grab struck a partnership which will see the integration of their mobile apps to provide more convenience and seamless travel experiences for travellers in Southeast Asia.

This includes markets such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

This will enable SIA customers to book Grab rides through the SingaporeAir mobile app, allowing users of the app an option to book a Grab ride to the airport seven days before their scheduled flight.

On top of mobile app integrations, members of SIA’s KrisFlyer and Grab’s GrabRewards programmes will also enjoy additional benefits under the partnership.

With the new partnerships in place, GrabRewards members will be given the flexibility to convert their GrabRewards points into KrisFlyer miles.

“We are constantly seeking to enhance our SingaporeAir mobile app and KrisFlyer programme to ensure that we provide more benefits to our customers,” Campbell Wilson, SIA’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing, said.

Added Jason Thompson, head of GrabPay: “By integrating Grab’s and SIA’s loyalty programmes, customers can look forward to using their points when they plan for their next holiday. This partnership is a significant recognition by one of the most prestigious airlines in the world and I’m incredibly excited about what we’re going to achieve together.”

Kelvin Koo, managing director at FALCON Agency Singapore, said there was a natural synergy in terms of the consumer journey between an airline and a ride-hailing service.

“Some might say it is a coup for Grab as SIA is the giant in the relationship. However, in my opinion, this is a great win-win partnership,” he said.

Manu Menon, managing director of Ansible Malaysia, said while the move to tie-up was a clever one, it was not a novel idea.

In other countries, Uber partnered American Airlines with a similar model. Recently, Lyft partnered Delta Airlines allowing Lyft riders to earn one Delta SkyMiles point for every US$1 spent on Lyft rides. This was provided users linked their Lyft account to their Delta SkyMiles account.

Meanwhile, on Grab’s part, the partnership is a clever business move. By partnering SIA, Menon explained Grab now had access to a loyal customer base that would number in the millions. Moreover, allowing customers to book for a Grab directly from the SingaporeAir mobile app would give Grab an advantage against its competitors.

Will it drive greater loyalty?

Brendon Chase, group strategy director at McCann Worldgroup Singapore and MRM//McCann strategy lead for APAC, said that making the customer travel journey a more seamless experience by integrating the apps was a smart move.

“Hopefully what prompted this was the understanding of a traveller’s customer journey and their gripes with getting to and from airports. Travelling to and from airports can be a major pain point and stressful time for travellers,” he said.

When it comes to driving customer loyalty, he added the partnership would be a great case to watch as both Grab and SIA were not only putting bets on loyalty points, but with a better customer experience through Grab bookings inside the SIA app.

The most successful companies are also leaders in customer experience, Chase said, quoting multiple studies by Forrester.

People are loyal to great customer experiences and convenience, not necessarily points. We will just have to wait and see on how they will implement the points.

However, it will be a tricky balance between immediate rewards and keeping people engaged long enough to know that Grab rides will eventually get rewarded on SIA, he added.

Parijat Priyadarshini, head of loyalty business consulting at Aimia, explained this was a classic example of borrowed loyalty.

“Krisflyer is the stronger loyalty currency in the market and Grab would be borrowing from the loyalty to Krisflyer miles into its customer base,” she said.

From a loyalty strategist’s perspective, Grab would be the brand to gain more out of this relationship, and hence, most likely the key party to initiate this conversation between the two brands.

“SIA and Grab are both regionally positioned, and hence, are in a symbiotic relationship to create a power pocket in the region. Equally important is the dual flow of mutual benefit.

In this case, though, we might see Grab benefiting more from this partnership than SIA. Time would be the key testament to this,” she said.

She added for Grab, it was indeed a major differentiation from its key market contender – Uber. She explained that SIA represents the leading regional airline, and association with this brand differentiates Grab as a key regional taxi services provider.

Brand perception aside, spends on Grab would be motivated by members willing to stack their Krisflyer miles through any channel available. So this would certainly impact decision-making on the choice of taxi.

Check out more from Aimia below:

Synchronizing loyalty, customer experience and branding

In many conferences in 2017, the buzz has all been around the customer experience, customer journeys or customer engagement. These topics come up in almost every presentation in a banking, hospitality, marketing or retail conference. However, there was little linkage between these “buzz” topics with loyalty nor branding. There is a correlation between the customer experience and how that impacts loyalty and an organisation’s brand. How does a brand inspire loyalty and how does the customer experience elevate a brand?