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Vistara offers hotel deals, loyalty programme as competition with Jet Air intensifies

The airline is also looking at fly-and-stay tie-ups with Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and partnerships with international carriers.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Mar 13, 2015, 11.52 AM IST
MUMBAI: Vistara, the joint venture carrier between Tata Sons Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd, has stepped up marketing campaigns and offers on its loyalty programme, intensifying the competition with Jet Airways to woo and retain passengers.

India’s newest airline, which started services on January 9, is also looking at fly-and-stay tie-ups with Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, controlled by Tata, and partnerships with international carriers.

“We have begun a new marketing campaign since the last three weeks. It is mostly in the online, radio, print and outdoor space. There are no plans yet to launch a television campaign,” chief commercial officer Giam Ming Toh told ET.

“We have tried to focus on the business traveller and on the high-end leisure traveller. Right now, the campaigns in the print space are limited to the route offerings, while digital and targeted outdoor speak of our differentiated offerings, to build preference,” said Kapil Arora, president of Ogilvy & Mather, Delhi, which has the Vistara account.

The airline’s loyalty programme, known as Club Vistara, rewards customers on the basis of how much they pay for tickets and not the distance travelled.

Vistara offers hotel deals, loyalty programme as competition with Jet Air intensifies
“A business-class customer can earn four times the points of an economy-class traveller, whereas in case of traditional programmes, he would earn around 1.25 times an economy-class flyer,” Toh said.

“Vistara’s loyalty programme is definitely smarter and more effective than the ones currently offered by airlines. It just needs to come up with an efficient system to redeem those points because that’s a pain point with most airlines,” said Manoj Chacko, head of business travel at Kuoni.

In addition, Vistara has started offering 1,000 points on every flight on its recently introduced Delhi-Hyderabad sector and double the usual points for booking premium economy tickets.

Jet, controlled by Naresh Goyal, has been trying to be one up. ET reported on February 9 how the airline tripled normal free miles under the JPMiles programme on business class and doubled them on economy class bookings for travel till March 31. The “promotion is applicable for travel between Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad sectors” or where Vistara was flying its first flights, Jet said on its website.

“I do believe Jet is diluting its product by increasing the number of points in this manner. For Vistara, the offer affects limited number of flights, not so for Jet,” said Chacko.

More recently, Jet offered points on ticket prices and miles travelled, which would lead to faster upgrades. Economy passengers on a Mumbai–Delhi Jet flight can earn four tier points instead of one point previously, the airline said on its website.

To upgrade to gold from silver, economy passengers would now need to fly 10 times in the domestic network instead of 40 times earlier.

“This will ensure loyal members who patronise Jet Airways are duly recognised and rewarded. The new tier point structure now allows members to earn more tier points per flight, thus shortening the time period to upgrade to the higher tier,” the airline said in an e-mail.

Jet is only recognising the value of Vistara’s loyalty programme, according to Toh.

“When our competitor is offering three times more miles on the sectors we are flying, that is a reaction to match the value proposition of Vistara’s model of loyalty programme. They are not offering the same deal on those sectors where we don’t have a presence yet. So in a way, it is an acknowledgement of the value of our loyalty programme,” said Toh.

Both Singapore Airlines and Jet’s strategic partner Etihad Airways follow the traditional frequent flyer programme.

Jet’s initiatives include #JetInstant, a Twitter tool that lets passengers check the lowest fare or flight status with a tweet; MyFamily+ that allows family members to pool points in a single account, and use of the boarding pass at international destinations to avail of discounts at restaurants and hotels.

Meanwhile, Vistara is tying up with Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, the flagship brand of the Tata-controlled Indian Hotels Co. Talks are at an advanced stage and an agreement may be signed shortly.

“There are two obvious ways to do it: clubbing a fly-and-stay package wherein a customer flying Vistara stays at a Taj property; and/or a cross-loyalty programme wherein a customer piling points on flights can redeem them for stays at Taj properties and vice versa,” said Toh.

Jet has tie-ups with 29 hotel groups for its loyalty programme.

Also imminent for Vistara are more codeshare or interline tie-ups with foreign carriers.

“We are in talks for partnerships with several international carriers with prominent capacity deployed into India for interline agreement in which their customers will be fed into our system for domestic travel. We will soon sign agreements with at least two,” said Toh.

Jet has 18 codeshares and over 100 interline partnerships.

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Vistara launches daily service to Dubai

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