It has been three months since the erstwhile Jet Airways' frequent flyer programme, Jet Privilege, got re-branded as InterMiles. The the loyalty programme, which now enables members to earn points by booking air tickets on various airlines, by booking holidays and doing restaurant reservations, is known to have added 4,50,000 new members and has also grown three times. With a membership base of over 10 million members the platform is making a shift towards a consumer tech business from a pure loyalty programme, said Manish Dureja, MD and CEO, InterMiles. "Earlier we were not a commerce player, we were not enabling commerce on our platform. Today, one can buy travel products on InterMiles and earn those miles. We have over 150 partners," he explains.
When Jet Airways announced the closure of the airline on April 27 last year, not only did its loyalists mourn its closure, many of them were actually more worried about the mileage points they had accrued on JetPrivilege, the airline's frequent flyer programme. JetPrivilege had close to 10 million members and many of them had been accumulating points for free tickets for their next international holiday. Dureja, says that since the airline closure was in the offing, he and his team had already started to keep the members informed that their miles were safe. "The situation in Jet was bad and it was apparent by mid-2018. We had already started preparing and we had worked out certain plans, so, we quickly started to stitch those plans. When Jet announced closure on April 17, we sent out a communication to all our members stating that their miles were safe. We told them that we are committed and that it's a continuum for us. We had to communicate that we are a separate entity," he said.
JetPrivilege was carved into a separate entity way back in 2014, where Etihad Airways owned a 50.1 per cent stake while Jet Airways owned 49.9 per cent. "We had already started creating different platforms such as hotels and shopping. The attempt was to create a much broader data-driven customer engagement platform," explained Dureja. Under the new architecture, Etihad continues to have 50.1 per cent stake, while the Jet Airways stake is pledged under the IBC process. "But that hasn't impacted our business," Dureja quickly clarifies.
In order to be positioned as a consumer tech platform, the company felt the need to break out of the Jet Airways umbrella. It, hence, came up with the new brand identity, InterMiles. "In the absence of Jet, the customer value proposition had changed, so the architecture in which were engaging with members had to change, the brand had to reflect what customers have to perceive," said Dureja.
So, how is InterMiles different from Cleartrip or Makemytrip? Dureja positions InterMiles as a premium offering which caters to the top 5 per cent of the Indian population. "We are quite different. We are not into the game of serving the mass market, we are focused on our members. If you see value in discounts and cashbacks then this programme may not be for you. InterMiles is pegged towards offering experiences. If you have a credit or a debit card and you have the capacity to spend Rs 15,000-20,000 every month, then you are the one who will see value in us," he added.
InterMiles is all set to launch its mobile app and Dureja says that his focus would be to get more and more of its existing members to engage with the app rather than add new members. "Our goal is to go deep, we are a data driven engagement platform. We won't chase members," said Dureja.