Qantas Gold status match is Velocity's secret weapon

Qantas Gold status match is Velocity's secret weapon

As Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer arm ticks past the 8 million member milestone, CEO Karl Schuster is ready to shift gears from adding new members to helping existing ones climb the status ladder.

“We’ve had a big focus on acquisition over the past 12 months, we’ve added roughly 1.5 million new members,’ the affable Irishman told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the airline's launch of its Melbourne-Hong Kong route.

“Our focus now will be on helping those members move up through the tiers so they can enjoy not only the points ‘earn and burn’ but unlock the benefits of status.”

Part of that will come down to better communications on Velocity’s part, Schuster says.

“We need to communicate program features which help people reach the next tier faster, through unique features like Family Pooling which enables some people to rocket through to Gold and then up to Platinum, but maybe not enough people know about that.”

Velocity Frequent Flyer CEO Karl Schuster

Going for Gold

Many frequent flyers in both the Qantas and Virgin Australia loyalty schemes also consider Gold to be the ‘sweet spot’ at which they consider switching their flying to the competitor in order to enjoy Gold status with both airlines.

Schuster agrees that given the size of each airline’s frequent flyer schemes – 8 million members for Velocity and closing in on 12 million for Qantas, with Australia’s entire population at 24 million – “there'd be a very high degree of overlap (between the two airline schemes).

“Among the savvy frequent flyers and loyalty members there will be a cohort who want to spread their business around, that’s not unusual – but we obviously want to direct them more to us, so we want to develop the very best proposition for frequent flyers and get more business from those customers who do split their flying.”

At the same time, Schuster reflects “I don't want to lose any of our Gold members, or any of the business that they generate, to another airline.”

“We need to do a better job when somebody reaches Gold to say ‘do this, this and this and you’ll get to Platinum’, and here are the extra benefits you’ll enjoy.”

Virgin's 'secret' Qantas Gold status match

That said, Schuster is happy to take Gold frequent flyers off Qantas’ hands 

And do do that, he reaches for Velocity’s Pilot Gold – a status match against Qantas Gold or Platinum which offers core Velocity Gold benefits such as priority check-in, boarding and lounge access for three months.

Only one Virgin Australia flight and 80 Velocity status credits – achievable with a one-way business class flight between the east and west coasts, or a return trip in full fare economy – is then needed to covert the Pilot Gold trial into full Velocity Gold status for an entire year. 

“We’ve been using Pilot Gold quite a lot in recent times and have seen some really strong results in terms of changes in flying behaviour, revenue generation and engagement.”

“It’s a strong proposition and it’s not unusual for me to grant it, but we scrutinise requests quite closely and try to use (Pilot Gold) in a very strategic way because it’s using airline assets.”

“You know what the lounges are like at peak periods, so it’s not something we throw around the place – we use it smartly and judiciously, in a very thoughtful way.”

David Flynn travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Virgin Australia

 

22 Comments

  • mcglynp

    mcglynp

    13 Jul, 2017 08:24 am

    Not sure communicating the "benefits" of VA Platinum better will actually  encourage anyone to want to aspire to climb the velocity status ladder. 
    Member who gave thanks

    Jack3193

  • bwright

    bwright

    17 Jul, 2017 02:52 pm

    Yes, I am not ensurely clear on the benefits at all, having been in it at that level for some 7 years
    Member who gave thanks

    dwinters

  • russell

    russell

    13 Jul, 2017 08:44 am

    Look at improving the actual Platinum benefits, rather than the method of communicating them. 
    Members who gave thanks

    Rohit, dwinters

  • Peter Loh

    PeterLoh

    13 Jul, 2017 01:33 pm

    They've hinted at this in the past and it would certainly be well received, but their focus has been on building up the membership base.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Rohit

    Rohit

    13 Jul, 2017 09:22 am

    I will be shortly sampling the Sydney, Brisbane & Cairns lounges, all during peak hours. We shall see how they are coping. Problem with overcrowding, by all accounts is only worsening. Not what you want when trying to wean away flyers from competition.
    No member give thanks

  • Joshua Withers

    joshuawithers

    13 Jul, 2017 09:37 am

    And how does one inquire of this Pilot Gold or Platinum? Asking for a friend ... (psst. email me)
    Members who gave thanks

    MRYJDrake, TheCelt

  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    13 Jul, 2017 11:37 am

    Velocity is a fair better product then Qantas, atleast I am flying Virgin where ever I go, Qantas I always end up on a Jetstar flight.  When your on a Jetstar flight they don't care how much flying you do or what you have paid for in the ticket.
    No member give thanks

  • MartyMcFly

    MartyMcFly

    13 Jul, 2017 12:07 pm

    Just called Velocity to be told "we don't offer that right now". Seems like it is a randomly occurring promotion only. 
    No member give thanks

  • John Odlum

    John Odlum

    13 Jul, 2017 12:15 pm

    It's an 'always on' offer but you need to be talking to the right people at Velocity, not just a random call centre person, and you need to show them you're a high-value traveller with a solid bookings record on Qantas. This isn't one of those 'free' status match deals for tyre-kickers who want lounge access when flying in economy a few times a year, it's for serious business travellers who can bring a lot to Virgin.
    No member give thanks

  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    13 Jul, 2017 01:10 pm

    Google, Accelerate Virgin and talk to the team at Accelerate. 
    I know people who have also had Platinum matched and staff getting Pilot Gold. 

    No member give thanks

  • RTWFF

    RTWFF

    13 Jul, 2017 12:55 pm

    Evidently Velocity hasn't thought through the recent changes they've made to awarding Status Credits. I'm now organising my future travel based on *just* retaining Gold rather than gaining excess status credits and *comfortably* retaining Gold. Excess flights to that requirement now go to "cheapest airline at the time" if I don't need lounge access
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Beckhouse

    AntoBeck

    13 Jul, 2017 05:30 pm

    Better to skip straight to the gate. Much quieter there.
    No member give thanks

  • R M

    Rxm

    13 Jul, 2017 09:47 pm

    This can back fire too. After having a taste of virgin gold it convinced me to stick with Qantas. Generally cheaper fares, far better lounges and a much much better staff attitude especially when handling delays. 
    No member give thanks

  • Charles

    SteveCF

    16 Jul, 2017 06:17 pm

    I agree, I had a flight with virgin, first in two years and used a lounge pass from my now silver, soon to be Bronze status. 
    After two years solid with Qantas as gold, just about to turn over platinum, the virgin experience did nothing to make me switch.
    They need to work on the hard product, they are not a full service premium airline. Gold match is great, but I think it will confirm to many like myself to stay Qantas.
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Thompson

    triumph8

    17 Jul, 2017 03:22 pm

    Cheaper fares on Qantas? Have never seen a case in the last several years and i have plat with both, i fly VA domestically and QF (and one world where i can) internationally. Jetstar is often cheaper but it is such a bad product that i have black listed them. You can eat the food on VA also.
    No member give thanks

  • R M

    Rxm

    18 Jul, 2017 08:24 pm

    Just one quick example of Qantas being cheaper on equivalent flights -  Sunday July 23 7am Sydney to Melbourne - Qantas $169 Virgin $206. Same day 11am Qantas $280 Virgin $353. Of course there are occasions when one airline is cheaper than the other. Most of the time I look at flights with my schedules in mind and when I book them Virgin is often more expensive.
    No member give thanks

  • Jazzop

    Jazzop

    17 Jul, 2017 02:57 pm

    Great, just what is needed, even MORE people in the overcrowded lounges.  On flight from SYD - MEL last week, there were more people in the priority boarding queue than the normal queue... If VA/Velocity want to dilute the value of Platinum buy having even more Platinum members, then perhaps it's time they introduce another tier above it - with no family pooling applying.

    I'm one of those who hedge (Platinum with VA, Gold with QF).  Due to where I fly VA have more options for me, but I would choose QF over VA any day. Perhaps it's time VA offer their FFs more than a 3cm Museli bar on board.
    No member give thanks

  • Jazzop

    Jazzop

    17 Jul, 2017 02:58 pm

    Note: Apologies for the spelling mistakes. That will teach me to reply via my mobile, while walking!
    No member give thanks

  • amitchell

    amitchell

    17 Jul, 2017 03:07 pm

    I recently got a Platinum match and am generally happy, the inflight food offer for economy is very average ( I never fly domestic for the food) but the seats (economy x for Platinum), in flight service, boarding and lounge are as good if not better than Qantas and a lot easier to hold (800 status credits versus 1,200 for Q), you also get 4 guaranteed upgrades a year  and guaranteed family FF flights so overall, I have been happy to move and you don't get ripped on points and status credits when flying overseas  with an affiliated airline like you do with Qantas
    No member give thanks

  • Terry Everitt

    terryeveritt

    17 Jul, 2017 05:39 pm

    Virgin lounges too crowded as it is - no need for even more from Qantas. Not that they would stay as the Q lounges are far better. I stay gold with velocity as plat is not worth it. Flights are fine and J food has always been good, even great on some flights.
    No member give thanks

  • Danny

    wilso1

    17 Jul, 2017 06:19 pm

    Why bother with Velocity, I have 500'00 points and not one international business reward seat on offer in the past 12 months. they have cut back far too much on reward seats, This bloke has got too greedy and caught up in this silly bidding for seats. They have zero on Qantas when it comes to reward seats.
    No member give thanks

  • Michael McMillan

    elsmicko

    18 Jul, 2017 03:15 pm

    Isn't it interesting that Virgin have lots of business class seats empty on internal flights, and they never offer random gold or platinum flyers a complimentary upgrade.... Only one seat occupied to Tassie last night, the rest empty.
    Member who gave thanks

    wilso1

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21 Jul, 2017 06:51 pm

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