Customer loyalty is a key ingredient for any business and that is particularly true in the airline sector where carriers spend a lot of time making sure their regular travellers are well looked after. Loyalty programmes can encourage repeat business and ultimately deliver a form of allegiance to the brand.
Qatar Airways already has a strong corporate following thanks to its strong business class offer, competitive pricing and convenient non-stop and one-stop travel options via its Hamad International Airport hub in Doha. But it is now investing in a new type of loyalty programme… one for children below the age of 11.
The Oryx Kids Loyalty Programme, which will be launched in the coming months for children ages 2-11, works in a similar way to standard airline schemes by offering them the opportunity to enjoy value-added benefits while travelling with Qatar Airways as well as the ability to earn Qmiles, which can be redeemed for attractive awards. In addition, they will also be eligible to earn Qpoints, which moves them to a higher tier, offering exclusive benefits.
The scheme is part of the launch of the Oryx Kids Club, an exciting new flying club for the airline’s youngest passengers, designed “to put even more fun into flying for children,” according to the airline. Through the Oryx Kids Club hero mascots, ‘Orry’ and ‘Orah’ the Oryx and their three furry friends – Kamil the camel, Faaiz the falcon and Farah the desert fox, the airline wants “to inspire and excite children when they fly” and make Qatar Airways “the airline of choice for families”.
Alongside the frequent flying programme other Oryx Kids Club initiatives include cuddly toys, brand new activity packs, specially-designed children’s meals alongside content already included via the airline’s in-flight entertainment offering.
According to the carrier, the Oryx Kids Loyalty Programme will feature a specially-designed secure section on the airline’s main Privilege Club loyalty website where children can view their own dashboard, Qmiles balance, travel history and much more, keeping the young loyalty members updated about their membership account. But, ultimately, parents will maintain a key role in managing their child’s account, and as the airline describes, making it “an exciting opportunity for parents and children who plan to travel together, so both can enjoy the mutual benefits provided by Privilege Club”.
Travelling with children can be a challenge for parents and while offering goodie bags on boarding, the Qatar Airways programme does take things to a clever new level and could generate a travel base for the future, while also supporting its existing executive membership.
The Gulf carrier is already working to meet the requirements of young travellers and has already made a substantial investment at Hamad International Airport The terminal’s Teddy Bear lamp is a firm favourite with families, along with dedicated children’s play areas and the Qatar Airways Duty Free Bumble Tree store. The Al Mourjan Lounge also features a Formula 1 motor racing simulator in the play area and a games room, as well as a dedicated children’s nursery. Children travelling on their own also have access to a special unaccompanied minors’ lounge.
It is unclear currently if the Oryx Kids Loyalty Programme is little more than a marketing ploy to appeal to parents, or if it will deliver tangible benefits to regular travellers. Until the reward rates are revealed it is hard to tell. Similarly, links to Qatar Airways’ existing ‘Family Program’ within its Privilege Club will need to be confirmed to see if reward points are worth any real value.
Through the ‘Family Programme’ main members across all tiers can already nominate up to nine close family members, choosing from their spouse, children older than two years and parents, pooling Qmiles earned by nominated family members into their accounts for quicker awards.
However, if the initiative means children are more happily flying with Qatar Airways, that will certainly deliver some benefits to the airline. After all, alongside a quiet content child on an aeroplane is a relieved and relaxed parent.