Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Aug 16, 2018

Mileslife's debut in HK unites 16 air-mile schemes (but not Marco Polo Club)

Troy Liu, founder and CEO of Mileslife, does not classify his startup as a coalition loyalty marketing program.

Mileslife's debut in HK unites 16 air-mile schemes (but not Marco Polo Club)

"More than 20,000 ways of earning miles", boasts Mileslife, a mobile app launched in March 2016 in Singapore and yesterday in Hong Kong, that allows users to earn miles in their favourite frequent flyer programmes from "everyday spending".

In Hong Kong, these ways include dining out at more than 100 restaurant merchants like Modern China, Xia Mian Guan, Brick Lane, The Point, Snow Garden, Tulsi, 3 Italiani, Dodam Chicken, Harbour Plaza 8 Degree, Le Reve, Ninetys, Good BBQ, and The Coffee Academics.
 
Mileslife users can supposedly spend as low as HK$0.25 to gain one mile on the app, on top of their credit-card miles. This is a classic B2C coalition loyalty program with the ability to 'double-dip' (earning points on a loyalty app as well as non-affiliated credit cards), though Troy Liu, founder and CEO of Mileslife, does not classify his app as such.
 
"The definition of a coalition program is one that has created its own 'currency', but we don't," he told Campaign Asia-Pacific at the programme's launch event yesterday. "We are basically considered as an extension of the airlines' frequent flyer programs. You still earn 'avios' [avios are the reward currency used by Aer Lingus, British Airways, Flybe, Iberia, Kulula, Air Italy and Vueling], not Mileslife 'miles'. Totally different. It's hard to classify us. We're a pure platform, similar to any other platform that directs traffic to the merchants." 
 
Semantics aside, Mileslife clearly competes against other lifestyle-focused loyalty-coalition schemes in Hong Kong, such as Asia Miles and Reward U.
 
That may be one reason why the Marco Polo Club, under Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, is not among Mileslife's list of 16 frequent-flyer partners:
  1. ANA Mileage Club
  2. British Airways Executive Club
  3. China Eastern Miles
  4. China Southern Sky Pearl Club
  5. Emirates Skywards
  6. EVA Infinity MileageLands
  7. Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club
  8. Iberia Plus
  9. LifeMiles
  10. Miles & More
  11. PhoenixMiles
  12. Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  13. Sichuan Airlines Golden Panda
  14. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  15. United MileagePlus
  16. Xiamen Airlines Egret Club

"Each airline reward program has their own schedule of doing things," explained Liu, who spent 17 years in the airline-consulting industry and as a self-proclaimed miles junkie. "We need to come out with the right time to approach them."

He also asserts that Mileslife has been "disrupting the traditional airline loyalty industry by creating an ecosystem connecting airlines, merchants, financial intermediaries, and users", by providing a "continuous pipeline for miles-earning".

There are three main types of travellers in Hong Kong, he said. The first is those who possess so many points that they are almost sick of flying; the second group who do have enough to 'burn' for an occasonal air ticket; and the third is those who have such a tiny amount of points that they cannot exchange for any ticket and are thus trying to get rid of them through lifestyle redemptions. Mileslife caters to all three, he said.

To celebrate Mileslife’s Hong Kong launch, users will earn 4X miles from now till 5 September 2018 and have the chance to win one million 'avios' with British Airways.

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