Brands adapt their loyalty programmes to fit the 'new norm'

The Singapore government recently announced that the circuit breaker period would be extended until the 1 June 2020. This means consumers are urged to stay indoors and limit their exposure to the community. And while the future remains uncertain on whether or not the circuit breaker will be lifted on that date itself, what industry players predict is that the travel sector will still remain very heavily impacted given consumers confidence will be at an all time low. Many will remain cautious on whether the countries they are hoping to travel to, are indeed out of the COVID-19 warning zones.

As many can imagine, this undoubtedly will also impact the loyalty sector. Singapore national carrier Singapore Airlines for one, has one of the most coveted loyalty programmes with Kris Flyer miles. The programme is highly acclaimed across the industry. In a statement to Marketing, a SIA spokesperson said that given the current situation, the airline has automatically renewed all KrisFlyer Elite and PPS Club membership statuses for another 12 months at the end of their membership year. This will apply to all memberships expiring from March 2020 through to February 2021. The national carrier has also recently enhanced its global travel waiver policy by offering bonus flight credits and the option to refund for customers. 

According to the SIA spokesperson, the bonus flight credits were to thank frequent flyers for their support during this challenging period as many of its customers have had their travel plans disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The travel industry, which is one of the heavily impacted sector, also saw national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) cutting 96% of the capacity that had been originally scheduled up to end-April, given the further tightening of border controls around the world to stem the COVID-19 outbreak. 

CEO Goh Choon Phong addressed the company’s cost reduction measures through an internal email to staff, and according to CNA, he has also since taken a 30% pay cut. As the national carrier works closely with travel partners to "aggressively" drive sales, it has also eased its loyalty programme and added extra features which can be used in the future. 

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum lies the F&B and ride-hailing industry which has its good and bad days. Grab, which offers both food delivery services and ride-hailing services, has now allowed its drivers to take up food and essentials delivery orders as the circuit breaker is ongoing. A Grab spokesperson told Marketing that given users will not be able to use some of the redeemed GrabRewards vouchers, the company has extended the validity of all GrabRewards vouchers and pushed its expiration to 31 December 2020. The GrabRewards' tier status for all users will also be extended to 31 December 2020, at the same time, users who earn enough points can have their tier status upgraded. For all other users, current tier status will remain. 

Meanwhile, Citibank is ensuring consumers continue to reap benefits of its rewards programme despite the current climate. Speaking to Marketing, a Citibank spokesperson said for its rewards credit card customers, the bank continues to review merchants on its rewards platform to cater to the needs of its customers. Citi has enhanced its usage offers with existing merchants such as food delivery and eCommerce platforms during this period as an additional move. 

Since the start of the evolving COVID-19 situation, the bank has also adjusted its messaging across all products as well as marketing assets, including its Citi ThankYouSM programme. In terms of communications within its app, Citi has placed more emphasis in sharing insurance and health related messages with customers as well as moved towards imagery that are more relevant during this climate such as food delivery and eCommerce. According to Citibank, the company has also increased its focus on digital capabilities and is encouraging customers to fulfil their banking needs digitally.