[INTERVIEW] Thomas Rummel, Vice President, Travel Rewards AIR MILES Reward Program

Today we feature Thomas Rummel, Vice President, Travel Rewards AIR MILES Reward Program. Today, he will share his thoughts with us on the new AIR MILES Flights platform. Thank you Thomas for taking the time to answer our questions, seems like this is just a stepping stone for lots to come. Looking forward to what else you have in store!

1) Please tell us about yourself and your role with AIR MILES.

As the Vice President of Travel Rewards at the AIR MILES® Reward Program, I oversee AIR MILES travel rewards and lead my team in creating an innovative, best-in-class and digital-first rewards experience that drives collector excitement and engagement in the program while delivering value back to our partners. I joined AIR MILES in 2021 with 30 years of experience in travel and tourism.

2) We heard about the new AIR MILES Flights platform – can you tell us more about it and how it differs from the previous flight-booking platform?

As one of Canada’s largest travel providers, and with nearly 30 years of helping to turn collectors’ everyday purchases into unforgettable flights, the AIR MILES Reward Program was excited to launch an entirely new flight-booking experience on November 18, 2021. With the new AIR MILES Flights platform, we’re giving collectors what we like to call flexibility in flight. Canadian travellers can now choose their airline (including recently added airline partners Air Transat, Emirates, Etihad, Icelandair, Qatar Airways and more); class of travel (including Premium Economy, Business and First-Class); departure location from just about any departure location in the world; and even how they pay. Now travellers can book a ticket with a credit card and get AIR MILES Reward Miles, or they can redeem AIR MILES Dream Miles™. Plus, one of the extras we’re particularly excited about is the ability for collectors to double-dip and earn airline loyalty rewards in addition to AIR MILES Reward Miles on eligible fares booked with a credit card. With marketplace pricing, the AIR MILES Flights platform also offers Canadian travellers the best available fares and no booking fees for tickets purchased by credit card. When we set out to introduce our new flight platform, our goal was to provide travellers with more choice, flexibility and transparency than ever before – we’re proud to have followed through on that promise.

What prompted Air Miles to make these changes?

We’ve been undergoing a transformation in our quest to provide collectors with a loyalty program that offers more choice, flexibility and value. When global travel came to a halt during the pandemic, we made improvements to the redemption value on non-travel rewards and provided collectors with new ways to earn Miles. However, with 30 years of turning everyday purchases into travel memories, we realized that the “return to travel” experience would look different for many Canadians. With this in mind, and with direct input from collectors, we designed our new AIR MILES Flights platform to provide more choice, flexibility and transparency. And with 70% of collectors expressing a desire to return to travel, we knew the time was right. AIR MILES Flights became the cornerstone of a series of enhancements that we announced in October and that provides more ways to earn, more ways to redeem and more promo opportunities.

What is the rationale behind the dynamic pricing feature?

The new AIR MILES Flights booking platform puts control back in the hands of Canadian travellers by offering them more choice, flexibility and transparency. Canadians can now choose their airline, class of travel, departure location, and even how they pay. Unlike our previous flight-reward booking system, which used zone fares, our current flight pricing is determined by the marketplace. This means that collectors can book with confidence knowing they’re getting the best available fares wherever they choose to fly and however they choose to pay, whether by credit card or by using Dream Miles.

What else can we look forward to in the future?

While we’re excited to officially launch our AIR MILES Flights platform, we’re just getting started. This is simply the first step in our journey to continue refining and improving the travel-booking experience for Canadians. We encourage collectors to stay connected as we continue to roll out further enhancements in 2022 and beyond.

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