Farewell Marco Polo Club, as Cathay Pacific reboots loyalty program
Simply known as ‘Cathay’, the airline’s fresh rewards platform replaces the stand-alone Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles schemes.
Decades of Cathay Pacific loyalists carrying Marco Polo Club cards in their travel wallet came to an end this week, as frequent flyers began receiving their new membership cards in the post.
Bearing just the simple Cathay brand and the holder’s status, the redesigned plastic is for many the first and most noticeable change following the airline’s contentious decision to retire the Marco Polo Club.
But the airline wouldn’t have it any other way: for Paul Smitton, former Asia Miles CEO and now Cathay’s Director of Customer Lifestyle, this is all about bringing together the best of Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles “under one membership programme”, he tells Executive Traveller, running off a single “seamless” website and app (both of which have also been updated this week).
The airline says this one-stop approach will allow members to “earn and redeem Asia Miles, accrue Status Points, as well as access the latest unique offerings all in one place.”
“We wanted to make it easier for members to get the most out of Cathay,” Smitten explains.
“That’s why we have simplified the programmes and evolved our membership to provide more benefits and choices that elevate our members’ lives, both on the ground and in the air, keeping everything they know and love about Cathay whilst innovating for the future.”
In the ‘keep’ box are the Asia Miles and Status Points – formally known as Marco Polo Club Points, the mechanism by which loyalty is recognised and rewarded – which gave been transferred across to each member’s new Cathay account.
The familiar status tiers also remain: now they’re simply Cathay Green, Silver, Gold, Diamond and of course the invitation-only Diamond Plus.
However, despite speculation that Cathay would restore its lifetime status program, lifetime tiers are not part of the rebooted program.
By year's end some new status perks will land, such as discounts for Cathay Diamonds who use Miles Plus Cash to book Cathay Pacific flights.
However, Cathay Green members – whose ranks have swelled on the automatic inclusion of all Asia Miles members who didn’t belong to the Marco Polo Club – will lose the ability to use Premium Economy check-in counters when flying economy, along with priority boarding and the ability to buy a Cathay Pacific lounge pass for 200 Club Points.
Smitton says there’ll be new ways to earn Status Points and Asia Miles on the ground, primarily through Cathay co-branded credit cards.
The singular Cathay program will spearhead the airline’s push into the broader lifestyle market, beyond travel alone, with partnership-backed platform plays in retail, wellness, hotels and dining intended to entrench Asia Miles as the de facto second currency of Hong Kong.
“Other than the travel privileges members value most, we are working closely with our 800+ partners to curate a full range of lifestyle experience for them to enjoy,” Smitten tells Executive Traveller.
As previously reported, all Marco Polo Club Diamond, Gold, and Silver members will see their status extended to December 2022, with exceptionally modest criteria to retain that status through to December 2023, such as not even setting foot on a Cathay flight.
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13 Sep 2019
Total posts 6
Nice report David however your info on 'Lifetime membership' is incorrect. Cathay a couple of weeks ago informed me that my Lifetime club membership (that I had until this was replaced in about 2003) was being restored and would replace my current 'Invitation Diamond' membership. Cards etc apparently on the way.
24 Oct 2010
Total posts 2556
Lifetime membership is being extended to previous recipients under a 'grandfathering' arrangement but it's not being reintroduced per se – so if you had it before you'll still have it, but there's no way for a non-lifetime member to earn lifetime status.