Virgin hires former Avios boss for loyalty scheme reboot

Virgin AtVirgin Group is attempting to breathe new life into its loyalty strategy by hiring former Monarch and Avios boss Andrew Swaffield to spearhead a dedicated division – the Virgin Group Loyalty Company – in a move designed to bring all Virgin brands under one programme.
Swaffield started his career at Thomas Cook in 1984 and later spent 17 years working for British Airways and parent group IAG. In 2011 he oversaw the creation of the group’s global rewards scheme Avios but left in 2014 to head up Monarch, returning the airline to profit following a major restructure. Swaffield stepped down as chief executive when Monarch collapsed in October 2017.
The company’s first crack at a group strategy was initiated three years ago with the launch of the Virgin Red app, which enables customers from its numerous divisions – including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Active, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Media and others to accrue points.
This scheme will now be incorporated into the Virgin Group Loyalty Company concept, and although exact details have yet to be released, it has been seen as further evidence of greater collaboration between Virgin companies. Last year, the firm pooled Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic CRM accounts into Proximity London.
The new company will initially be a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic while systems and processes are set up. It will then launch as a standalone Virgin company in 2019 when it will be owned by Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines.
Virgin has said the Flying Club will still operate as Virgin Atlantic’s members’ platform and that users will still be able to earn and spend miles with Virgin Atlantic, Delta and other airlines and partners.
Virgin promises that Flying Club members will have access to “an expanded range of valuable ways to earn and spend miles that will be powered by the new Virgin loyalty programme”.
Swaffield said: “Virgin is one of the most admired brands in the UK and across the world, serving 53 million customers each year across 60 companies. Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to Virgin and we want to ensure Virgin customers get the very best rewards possible.”
Oliver Byers, Virgin Atlantic senior vice-president of global sales and customer loyalty, said: “Flying Club offers Virgin Atlantic’s customers compelling and valuable rewards for flying on Virgin Atlantic, Delta and a range of Flying Club partners.
“This will continue to be the case, but at the same time, we’re excited to work collaboratively with Virgin Group to build a stronger loyalty programme and unleash the power of our shared brand to reward customers for their loyalty to Virgin. We’ll be giving customers more reasons to join Flying Club and fly with Virgin Atlantic and our airline partners.”

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