Velocity to chart its own course with review of status tiers

“I think we’ll find a very Virgin and a very Velocity way to shake things up a bit” says Velocity CEO Nick Rohrlach.

By David Flynn, June 29 2022
Velocity to chart its own course with review of status tiers
Executive Traveller exclusive

Virgin Australia is rethinking the tiers of its Velocity Frequent Flyer rewards program, but loyalty  chief Nick Rohrlach is determined not to blindly ape Qantas when it comes to areas such as a ‘Super Platinum’ level or even the additional of lifetime status.

In the same way that “Virgin is being Virgin”, Rohrlach says “the cool thing for Velocity is that allows us to go our own way as well, to think about that differently… we're not just a copy of anyone else.”

Rohrlach, who is now nine months into the job as Velocity CEO after ending a decade-long stint as a senior executive at the Qantas Group, sees Velocity as being invigorated with a positive attitude akin to “a start-up with 10.7 million members,” in reference to the number of Velocity members now on the books.

“There’s basically a Velocity member in every Australian household,” Rohrlach tells Executive Traveller, with the airline rewards program now “the third biggest loyalty programme in the country” after Qantas Frequent Flyer’s 13.5 million members and the 12.5 million members of the Woolworths Everyday Rewards.

But Rohrlach is casting his net far and wide when it comes to finding ways to recognise and reward Virgin’s most frequent flyers.

“There are other airline loyalty programs out there, there are loyalty programs for other parts of travel and there are other consumer offerings from other industries as well.”

This doesn’t mean that an above-Platinum Velocity tier to match Qantas Platinum One can be ruled out, but nor is it a slam-dunk.

“That’s in the scope of what we’re looking at” in the tier review, Rohrlach admits, “but we’re not looking to just copy and paste what what anybody else is doing, we'll, we'll look at fresh.”

“I think there are many ways to recognise the people that fly with us very frequently, and a new tier is only one of those ways,” Rohrlach adds.

“I think we’ll find a very Virgin and a very Velocity way to shake things up a bit.”

Lifetime Velocity status – another potential Qantas equaliser – is also “something we’re looking at as part of that review,” Rohrlach tells Executive Traveller.

“Some people have obviously flagged that as an interest… we’re obviously looking at all the feedback we’ve got from members (and) we’ll probably go out and survey more members as well.”

“But first and foremost is making sure that Virgin is a great value offering and that it has a great value rewards program attached to that. So we of course want to make sure we’re not inflating the cost and then no longer being a great value airline, that we can continue to offer those great value fares.”

Value is also a touchstone of Virgin and Velocity’s appeal to the small business segment, which Rohrlach describes as being as much “Virgin’s heartland” as leisure flyers.

“I grew up with both my parents having their own businesses, so small business to me is the absolute perfect thing for Virgin – we have great value fares but we also have the service and the lounges that business customers need.”

Rohrlach believes Virgin is tapping into that need with the recently-launched Virgin Australia, Business Flyer program.

“We had a program in the past with just discounts, but now it’s both the discounts and the rewards, and we’re seeing people signing up for the new scheme at six times more than the old one, so that’s exciting, and we want to grow that Virgin Australia business flyer ecosystem and partner coalition as well.”

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 798

What does Apple do what does the best marketing people do, they copy and make it better, basic 101. The problem VA has is there playing with people  at the top tier of flying and they know each other. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 576

Nailed it again, olde boy, nailed it again.  Some call it 'group think', but I don't expect the current management of VA2 to get it right.  Right now, their 'Family Pooling' is failing to cope with VA-coded international short-haul flights in VA metal !!!  

From what I’ve heard a few of the most frequent flyers at VA have already moved due to lack of responsiveness namely no club access like they thought was going to happen or lead to believe.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1108

The Club is targetted at a very different market from frequent flyers  Both The Club and Chairman's Lounge are aimed at decision makers not airport warriors.   I really don't think either airline want to mix up these two very different segments.

@Reeves35, it's gone down like a Lead Balloon not with the airport warriors but with the most frequent of flyers at VA (please give some respect to the core flyers). Let's see Qantas P1's and Chairman lounge have the same call centre number and operator, Qantas is also giving Chairman lounge access to many of my friends that are P1's. As I said Lead to Believe like a Lead Balloon. 

JTG
JTG

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 49

The two other loyalty systems mentioned have very active members, be that spending points, planning on spending points or planning to accumulate points. I dont get the same vibe  with Velocity. I believe Velocity need more engagement with their 10.7 million members and get hem active

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 316

They need something to make up for their lack of lounges at airports around the country, the more people travel again the more they realize how poor it is.

21 Apr 2019

Total posts 22

To earn Velocity points at Virgin cruises & hotels is an oversight.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Feb 2016

Total posts 22

Frequent flier programs reward spend, not loyalty.   But most of the people who are flying frequently enough to earn status are flying because they have to and, particularly in business, with other people’s money.  Giving free lounge access or upgrades from economy as a reward for someone who always travels business is hardly a reward at all.  On the other hand, they would be valued highly by frequent travellers whose employer or other circumstances require economy class travel.  So these rewards should be based on miles, not spend.  Readers here will have suggestions as to what would motivate loyalty from travellers on company business.  Maybe rewards aimed at the payer not the traveller.  Or things like free companion tickets  For the very top end traveller, the lounge should operate like a club and allow access to members and guests irrespective of the carrier being used – it would be a status worth striving for as it would give access in those circumstances where the preferred carrier is unavailable or inconvenient.   

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 798

@Nick R I’m waiting for Points / Fight Club to come online as well.

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 130

I may be showing my age, however I feel FF programs since initially being a reward, are now simply a business and the customer is the pawn in this Billion dollar game. If loyalty is sought, bring it back a step or 2 as I can see we in only a few short years, we will where the US is today, Their airlines and FF schemes are a mess and over complicated, and ours are going the same way. 

Some may embrace the new concepts, but me, just simply reward travelers for their loyalty in a solid and simply way.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jun 2020

Total posts 15

Exactly. Loyalty is not taking x Amon t if trips as well. If a person or small business spends 100% of their travel with you that is loyalty even if it’s only 10% of bigger budgets. That’s what no one seeks to understand 

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

17 Apr 2014

Total posts 16

I am sick of never ending "promises" to bring back transfers to SIA. It is far too late for us to book with SIA due to their points devaluation on 5/7, lack of available seats and various other factors. VA only want you to transfer from SIA to VA. These shallow promises have been going on since Feb 2022 and just the other day. My vote is with the tooth fairy. Just wonder how may of your 10.7m FF really give you the time of day based on such promises. They seem to be very keen to have you transfer from SIA to VA, wonder why?.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Velocity to chart its own course with review of status tiers