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a white and blue airplaneThe WestJet Frequent Guest program recently celebrated its first birthday and I had the chance to talk to WestJet about the program, how the first year went and what the future of the program may hold. Many thanks to Richard B. and Lauri F. over at WestJet for taking the time to answer these questions.

1. Did WestJet do anything special for the launch of the FGP? (Internally and/or Externally)
Absolutely. We had a big celebration internally to kick off the program. This was celebrated not only in our head office in Calgary but at all Canadian bases across our network. Each employee was presented with a passport wallet to commemorate the launch of the program. At WestJet, we celebrate many momentous occasions and the launch of our own frequent guest program was cause for celebration.

Externally, we launched a campaign to raise awareness of the new program through our Jet Mail program, the travel agent community and through the travel trade media and traditional media. We also made extensive use of our social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to promote FGP.

2. What has been the response in the first year for the WestJet RBC MasterCards?
The response has been positive. Many of our guests have told us how much they appreciate the simplicity of reward dollars that can be earned on everything they purchase. This is further evidenced by the fact that we have cardholders and FGP members who have redeemed not only once but several times since the launch of the program.

3. What has been the response in the first year for the FGP program itself?
The response has been very good. The idea that you can begin to use your WestJet dollars once a threshold has been reached has been positive. Our guests also appreciate that there are bonuses as you reach each subsequent milestone.

The program is unique – once our guests understand it and realize the value it offers compared to other programs they are engaged, using it and we are seeing strong redemption.

4. Has enrolment in the program met or exceeded your first year targets?
We don’t disclose information regarding targets.

5. Have credit card sign up met or exceeded your first year targets?
We don’t disclose information regarding targets.

6. Have many members who are not WestJet credit card holders succeeded in reaching the set spend levels?
These are thresholds that we do not disclose.

7. Do you see a trend of members redeeming their balances each time they book or are more members hoarding for that big trip?
It’s still a bit early to determine any sort of trending as it relates to their dollars. I believe the notion of hoarding came from other programs where it took awhile before you could reach a level. We’ve heard from guests on both sides; those who are still saving and those who began to use their dollars as soon as they were eligible.

8. Looking back on your launch and the first year of operation, is there anything you would have changed before the launching of the program?
There are a few things such as the ability to use the guest-generated user name as the login ID rather than the 9 digit ID which is generated by the system. We are working on that now and look forward to introducing this initiative. The whole program is rooted in simplicity and it would be much simpler for the guest to be able to login with a username they have chosen.

9. Your first FGP partner outside of RBC and WestJet Vacations is American Airlines, do you have more planned in the immediate future (ie 6-12 months) In particular any hotel or car partners that you will be able to earn WestJet dollars at?
Nothing that we can discuss at this point. As part of our strategic planning cycle each year, we look at a variety of initiatives across the airline so we have certainly taken the time to review the program and prepare several scenarios of what we might do in the future.

10. Will the relationship between WestJet’s FGP and American AAdvantage program be expanded beyond earning on code share routes? ie earning WestJet $$ for American Airlines flights only (not code share) or vice versa?
This is something we can not provide information on at this time.

11. Will you eventually be able to redeem WestJet $ for American AAirlines flights (code share and/or non code-share) and vice versa for AAdvantage members? If so, do you see any issues arising in direct competition for the WestJet RBC MasterCard from the TD Canada Trust AAdvantage card?

We are at the very early stages of our discussions as it relates to redemption with code share partners. Nothing we can say at this point.

12. I noticed that WestJet is starting to offer FGP bonuses outside of the CC and set spend levels. Do you foresee this as continuing or are they experiments at this time (ie Eastern triangle $25 bonus)
They are promotional bonuses to help support our strategic expansion into the eastern triangle. It reflects the flexibility and the power of the program. From time to time, we will leverage it tactically where we see a benefit.

13. Do you see any benefit in offering a bonus like that above when you launch a new route?
It’s certainly something we could look at but no plans at this point for new route launches to include FGP. FGP will become a promotional tool that we can leverage for future initiatives.

14. Do you ever see the WestJet FGP moving to a coalition model like Air Miles or Aeroplan?
Not at this point. Our first priority is on our program and to ensure that we are working on the airline partnerships we have in place. That will provide the greatest value for our guests while ensuring that those who fly with us are being rewarded for their patronage.

15. Anything else you would like to add about the WestJet FGP?
Sign up!

For more details on the WestJet FGP or to sign up for the program please visit the Rewards section of the WestJet website.

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