UK low-cost carrier EasyJet is trialing a new frequent flyer initiative as it bids to increase its proportion of repeat bookings, but its chief executive Carolyn McCall stresses it is not a traditional airline programme.
"We have launched a major trial of a frequency flyer loyalty scheme," she said during a full-year-results conference call today, emphasising that it is loyalty scheme rather than a frequent flyer programme. "We are not becoming a legacy carrier in anyway. Its not about giving them free flights and its very simple to run.
“Unlike traditional airlines' difficult to use mileage schemes, our loyalty scheme gives passengers benefits they really value and is simpler to run," she says.
The scheme offers increased flexibility on bookings, a price guarantee and a dedicated phone number. "The trial has been running for three months and includes 15,000 passengers in the UK, France and Switzerland," she says. The airline reports 91% of the trial group say the scheme is "appealing to them".
EasyJet had already rolled a number of initiatives under it EasyJet Plus programme - membership of which has increased 14% over the last year - and which offers customers unlimited allocated seat choice, dedicated bag drop and speedy boarding. This will be expanded with fast-track through security at major airports next year.
This it says has already helped the airline lift its proportion of repeat business, particularly within the desirable business segment. It says 57% of bookings are now made by existing customers - compared to 50% in 2010 - and this figure among business customers is 62%.
McCall points to both a revenue and cost benefit from having more repeat business, noting it is more cost-effective to retain existing customers then trying to find new ones.