Air Vistara has been teasing us with the revamp of the Vistara loyalty program for a while, and finally the details are out. For reference, these are the original earn, burn and elite-tier qualification criteria for Club Vistara. I had put out my critique of the program at that point of time. Vistara also launched an exclusive lounge for their top-tier members & Business Class customers. Last weekend, I put out my thoughts on what could be the Vistara frequent flyer program additions.
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to speak with Kishore Mardikar, who is the incharge for Sales & Marketing at Vistara, and who is the in charge of the loyalty program as well. He briefed me on the changes to the program which will be announced today. Here is the recap, including some of my comments top of the head.
Introducing Platinum Tier
Making Gold the giveaway tier, Vistara needed a new top-tier for their own loyal members. So, 20 months into launch, Vistara has now launched the Club Vistara Platinum Tier. The tier comes with Meet & Greet Benefits & no rescheduling fees. To note here, the other top-tier programs don’t charge a cancellation fee to top-tier members as well (Jet Airways has free cancellation, Air India for INR 200), so Vistara is being stingy on that front I suppose. Platinum members will also get lounge access and upgrade vouchers.
Earning Increased from 5 CV points/INR 100 to 8 points/INR 100
This is the first change. Club Vistara members who were earning 5 points/INR 100 will move up to earning 8 points/INR 100 now. Elite members used to get 20-40% bonus points, which will also go up. Here are the details:
- Base Member: 8 points/INR 100
- Silver Member: 9 points/INR 100
- Gold Member: 10 points/INR 100
- Platinum Tier: 11 points/INR 100
So, the road to accumulating points for spend, and being an elite is now faster than earlier (no pun intended)
Redemptions seem to remain the same. 50% discount on redemptions for limited period
The current award chart is reproduced below. It starts at 2000 CV points for the short Jammu-Srinagar sector (redemption), and 500 CV points (upgrade). This remains the same as of now. However, to celebrate the launch of the new program, one gets a 50% discount on redemptions through October 11, 2016 (You can travel after that date as well on discounted redemptions)
Introducing Upgrades & Lounge Access
Vistara is playing catchup, they will be introducing Lounge Access (via vouchers) to elite members to allow them to give these to friends/families/colleagues to visit the Vistara Lounge in Delhi Terminal 3. Members will also get upgrade vouchers for domestic upgrades. These are already features of the Air India (Domestic upgrades only) as well as Jet Airways program (International Upgrades as well). Here is the number of upgrade vouchers to be issued:
- Silver: 1 per membership year
- Gold: 3 per membership year
- Platinum: 5 per membership year
I am unclear at the moment if these new vouchers are valid for Economy to Business Class upgrade, or are these valid for 1 class upgrades only (Economy to Premium Economy, Premium Economy to Business Class)
Upgrade vouchers are good for upgrades from Economy to Premium Economy and PEY to Business Class, so here, they are beaten to the punch by Air India and Jet Airways both. I do think this is more dress-up than substance because I don’t differentiate much between PEY & Y domestically, but it could be different for others.
New reduced requirements for Elite Requalification
For the elites of Vistara, the earlier requirements were as follows:
- Base->Silver: 25,000 CV Tier Points
- Silver->Gold: 50,000 CV Tier Points
Vistara has now changed that approach, and come more in line with the market. So, Flight Count as well as CV Tier Points will be the criteria to give elite tiers (whichever comes first)
- Base->Silver: 15,000 CV Tier Points/20 Flights
- Silver->Gold: 25,000 CV Tier Points/30 Flights
- Gold->Platinum: 35,000 CV Tier Points/40 Flights
Air India is not comparable at the moment, since they only count status miles, and they are the worst of the lot awarding them, given their newfound stinginess, and hence, I still think they are the most miser program around. Jet Airways has a similar criteria to get you silver (20 flights in 12 months/assuming 20 tierpoints from lowest fare classes). Beyond that, I don’t have access to the modelling yet, but my gut says it would take similar criteria to reach Platinum if you are a business class traveller (on the basis of tier points on Vistara & Tier Points on Jet Airways).
New points offers for members
Like I already mentioned above, there will be a 50% discount on redemption tickets till October 11, 2016. Also, all flyers will get 2x CV points through November 2016 on their Vistara flights. For bookings and check-in via digital channels (Mobile & Website), you can now earn 250 CV Points each rather than the 100 earlier. New members will now get a 1000 CV points bonus on the first flight rather than the 500 CV points earlier.
New Tiers effective retrospectively
Vistara has confirmed that they will be running all the data for the past 20 months again, and any members who qualify for the newer tiers will be given those new tiers. So, potentially a lot of new silvers & golds may come into the fold. This is indeed a generous move.
Vistara is now going to have a 4-tier membership program with Base, Silver, Gold & Platinum Tier membership. They have reduced their criteria to get more elite members. After all, that is the point of a loyalty program, right? They hope that by giving out loyalty benefits, more people will come back after initially trying them out. With the introduction of upgrade benefits & the Platinum tier, they now have a full-fledged loyalty program like the rest of the industry. As far as the discussion about being the fastest program, I’ll do the maths and come back to you soon about that.
Top of my head, the new Club Vistara program is now a competitive program as compared to the earlier version. How they execute it on the ground is something I’m waiting to see on my next flight with them.
Are you happy with the changes to the Club Vistara program? Share your votes & comments below…And if you have any questions, happy to answer them as well…