Words by Tara Young
Flight Centre Business Travel is all about the small to medium business traveller, and one of our biggest areas of expertise is Frequent Flyer programs in the business space. Your Travel Manager can guide you through the labyrinth of Australia’s Frequent Flyer programs, identifying what will work best for you and your business.
Drawing on this expertise, here's a comprehensive guide to four key business loyalty programs operating out of Australia that can help you plan and manage your travel spend.
Qantas’ business program Aquire launched in July 2014. It's designed to reward businesses everyday travel expenses. This includes Qantas and code-share flights on Emirates and American Airlines. You can also accrue points through the nearly 20 non-air partners, including Secure Parking, GIO Business Insurance, Staples and QBE. The annual membership is approximately $179.
You will earn Aquire Points as you go, which can then be transferred to Qantas Frequent Flyer Points (one Aquire Point equals one Qantas Point) through your online account. A minimum of 3,000 Aquire Points can be converted at a time, and standard Qantas expiry rules apply.
As Frequent Flyer points, these become a valuable commodity that can then be used as incentives for employees or to thank loyal clients. Another option is to use Aquire Points to reduce travel costs by swapping them for award seats or flight upgrades through Qantas Frequent Flyer. Qantas Frequent Flyer members are also encouraged to accrue individual points in conjunction with Aquire.
Membership is open to any business from sole practitioner to large organisations, as long as the business has an Australian Business Number (ABN).
There are a few rules and regulations with the redemption process (this is where your Travel Manager can help you); however, the Aquire Program has more ups than downs, particularly for consultants and independent professionals.
Virgin Australia's Accelerate program is aimed at companies spending from $20,000 to $300,000 per year on Virgin Australia flights. It is also restricted to registered companies – you must have an Australian Company Name (ACN)
There is no joining fee. You simply register on line, which will allow you to immediately nominate two travellers to receive three months of Gold status with Virgin's Velocity Frequent Flyer program. This can be extended to a year's membership if your company generates 80 status credits and one 'eligible sector'. You’ll also be able to choose your free VIP hotel status.
Company staff will gain access to such benefits as lounges, priority check-in and boarding, a 32 kilogram baggage allowance and a 75% points bonus on eligible flights. Virgin also encourages company employees to join the Velocity Frequent Flyer program to gain individual benefits while helping the company accrue its travel rebate credit.
At an organisational level, the company is awarded an Accelerate travel rebate credit to spend on future Virgin Australia flights at the end of the 12 month period. Below maps out the required spend to access the potential value.
Virgin’s Accelerate program does offer a fair degree of flexibility for businesses that fall within the $20,000 - $300,000 travel spend range. The other great benefit is the parallel opportunity for individuals to accrue points for use within their own Velocity membership.
Etihad’s loyalty program for businesses provides another program where organisations and individuals benefit from employee travel. Launched in 2012, it was designed for smaller companies of 2-50 employees.
Business travellers need to sign up to Etihad's Frequent Flyer Loyalty Program, which will then be linked to the BusinessConnect account. The traveller continues to earn 100% of the miles for themselves, while the business earns an additional percentage of miles. Percentages are also based on whether travel is in the Premium or Economy cabins.
Etihad Guest miles that are earned for your BusinessConnect account can be redeemed at the Etihad Guest Reward Shop, on a wide variety of items. This includes everything from health and beauty to household goods. The Reward shop is also the place to redeem miles for flights and upgrades. Alternatively you can redeem your miles via Etihad’s PointsPay, converting your points to 'cash' for use at over 30 million outlets worldwide.
Etihad’s BusinessConnect provides a great award option for smaller companies. One of its biggest benefits is the ability to convert your miles to cash (or a virtual credit card). This addresses the perennial problem of the expiry period for accrued points.
This is the Emirates loyalty program targeting small to medium sized businesses. Like the previous three options, the individual traveller can earn miles for themselves and for the company.
Business Rewards is available to all businesses and organizations with no more than 80 employees; though, all individual members must be registered with Emirates Skywards.
With each flight, your account will accrue points, which will be calculated at the end of each month. Individual members will continue to earn Skywards Miles while the organisation earns Business Rewards Miles.
Miles remain valid for three years from the day that they are earned, and, like Skyward Miles, they can be used for free travel or upgrades. Please note that award flights can only be booked online and surcharges and taxes are not covered.
Business Rewards is a bit restrictive when it comes to the size of your company, but otherwise is a good option for those seeking a flexible program that rewards both travellers and companies.
For more information on Frequent Flyer programs, contact our Travel Managers on 1300 797 826 to book a personal meeting with one of our business travel experts. Not only can they assist you and your staff with Frequent Flyer questions, they can make sure you access the full range of benefits available from your business loyalty program.