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New WestJet Rewards Program Introduction
Well this is exciting. It has just been announced that Canadians can expect to see a new WestJet Rewards program by the end of the year, which is being launched in partnership with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
Details of the new program, being called Ampli, are largely unknown at this time, though consumers can expect more info in the coming months.
WestJet said in a press release that the timing is right for a loyalty disruption in Canada, referring to the Aeroplan and Air Canada partnership ending in 2020. WestJet is banking on many Canadians being upset with Aeroplan, and I think the marketing angle is brilliant. They plan to highlight that they don’t overbook flights, and that there are no blackout dates to redeem points, which are two areas of the industry that seem to get a lot of negative media coverage, and have plagued Aeroplan for years.
My Thoughts On The New WestJet Rewards Program
Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic over the introduction of the new WestJet Rewards program. More competition is always great, and I believe this will put a lot of pressure on Air Canada to come out of the gate in 2020 with some really great offers to attract consumers who have already committed to the WestJet program (which will launch almost two years ahead of the new Air Canada program).
However, I don’t think this new offering from WestJet and RBC will be groundbreaking. I think we can largely expect a revenue based program, since that’s what WestJet has offered for years, and is generally where the industry is trending. Aeroplan was a complicated program, but with that came a lot of program sweet spots (if you took the time to learn the rules). New programs seem to be geared towards a younger generation that prefer simplicity and function over value, and I don’t think that’s a good trend for travel hacking.
So how will the new WestJet program standout to attract new consumers?
- I believe they will launch with some very generous welcome bonuses on one or two new RBC credit cards, and will need to offer good earning rates on everyday spend
- Attract younger consumers with new technology, including easy to use apps which has largely been absent on the Canadian market
- Use the never ending negative media attention Aeroplan is attracting to their benefit
I think the third point stands out the most as how WestJet and RBC plan to attract new customers. The Canadian population is practically begging for a new and better loyalty program in Canada, but the problem is that most don’t know what better is. I suspect WestJet knows this, and will release something flashy and easy to use, with very little value compared to the potential in other (more complicated) airline programs, and I think they will be successful in doing so.
One other area I’m slightly concerned about is the relationship between RBC Rewards and British Airways Avios. Currently one of the only good uses of RBC points is the transfer option to Executive Club, which regularly offers 30-50% transfer bonuses (next one expected in the coming days). It sounds like RBC is investing a lot in WestJet, and at the same time WestJet has been partnering more with Delta, with some speculating WestJet could eventually join the SkyTeam Alliance. If that happens, it can almost be guaranteed the relationship with British Airways would end.
However, there are also a lot of people saying WestJet could become the new Alaska Airlines in terms of remaining independent, but having strategic relationships with certain partners and reward programs. This would be ideal, but I’m not overly optimistic. I think WestJet has their sight set on becoming a real competitor with Air Canada, and joining SkyTeam would certainly make that more of a reality.
New WestJet Rewards Program Bottom Line
Competition is good – that’s the bottom line. I don’t think this new program will be great, or even good for that matter. I suspect we’ll see a flashy new revenue based program designed for consumers who care more about simplicity and less about potential value.
The silver lining? You can bet the Air Canada team is scrambling with the news, now facing the reality of launching a brand new program almost two years behind their biggest competitor in Canada. I think the new WestJet program will put a lot of pressure on Air Canada to launch a competitive and enticing program, which is great!
There are a lot of changes in the loyalty world right now between Marriott/SPG, Air Canada/Aeroplan, and WestJet/RBC, and whether the new programs are good or not, Canadians can expect to see a bunch of great welcome bonuses in the near future!
What do you think of the new WestJet rewards program news? Will we see an exciting new way to earn/redeem points, or just another revenue based program? Let us know in the comment section below!