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Illustration: Victor Tarre
Illustration: Victor Tarre

Aviation

EuroBonus turns 25

What began as a simple frequent flyer program has evolved into one of the world’s premier airline loyalty programs. Now nearing five million members, EuroBonus has grown massively since its inception in 1992, while the list of high-profile partners gets longer every year.

It’s been 25 years since SAS introduced one of Europe’s first loyalty programs, and EuroBonus has been setting the standard ever since.

Back in 1992, when EuroBonus first launched, members flew with SAS and earned points. It was as simple as that. The program also allowed SAS to fill unsold capacity by offering members empty seats that they could pay for with points or cash. It wasn’t long before SAS realized that this should be the basis of a true relationship with its customers, and a means to offer them even more. This is where the program began to grow.

“Today we have 4.7 million EuroBonus members and expect to reach 5 million by the end of 2017,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, SAS VP Customer Journey & Loyalty. “The key to this incredible growth right from the beginning has been listening to our customers – what they need, want and desire – and giving it to them.”Today SAS has partnerships with more than 350 well-known brands, says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg. Photo: Peter Knutson

Within a decade, EuroBonus had expanded, becoming more than just a frequent flyer program. Members were now able to earn and use points for activities connected with their journey, such as car rentals and hotels. By 2009, it had grown even further.

“We wanted to offer members more opportunities to earn points on everyday activities not connected with travel,” says Smitt Lindberg. “So we introduced points on things like shopping for groceries at Coop in Sweden, financial services, electricity and fuel – things which could easily turn everyday expenditure into bonus travel.”

The introduction of EuroBonus co-branded credit cards made the lives of members even easier. Partnerships with American Express and MasterCard allowed members to earn points in all areas of life, which in turn, brought them closer possibly to their dream trip, something many people have on their personal bucket list.

“People love to travel and travel continues to increase,” says Smitt Lindberg. “We are continuing to grow EuroBonus in everyday life, because if we can help people enjoy dream trips more often, it’s a great return for everyone.”

EuroBonus is always looking to the future with new partners and schemes that make customers’ lives easier and more rewarding. This includes the addition of more than 350 partners “on the ground”, such as Svenssons i Lammhult for furniture and Hästens for bedding, as well as restaurants, clothing stores and gas stations.

“This is where we’ll continue to expand. SAS has partnered with Loyal Solutions, a company that has the technology to make it easy for merchants to offer EuroBonus points to customers. They’re also actively signing up new merchants from well-known brands – EuroBonus is not just about flights, cars and hotels, it’s about everyday life and building a community for our members.”

In the future, EuroBonus will focus on four areas – lifelong loyalty, personalized customer service, simplicity when earning and redeeming points, and ensuring that EuroBonus members always get more – with SAS in daily life, and together with each other.

“We want to help our members with new tools that allow them to connect and interact,” says Smitt Lindberg. “For example, we’ll be introducing a new concept where you and your friends will be able to decide where you want to go together, pool your points to reach the target easier, and book the trip in points for everyone. This is a great way of engaging and building the SAS EuroBonus community, while allowing our loyal members to enjoy that dream trip with friends or family.”

Stephanie Smitt Lindberg says SAS is always thinking about the future and how customers’ needs and wishes will evolve.  “We listen to our customers and understand what they want, through feedback, focus groups, surveys and workshops. Future offerings are built through co-creation with our customers, from EuroBonus members who enjoy occasional travel with us, to EuroBonus Diamond members who drink most of their morning coffee in one of our lounges.”

Listening to customers and responding to their needs is why SAS EuroBonus remains one of the most popular loyalty programs in the world – and why it continues to attract new members.


Text: Judi Lembke 

Last edited: April 17, 2017

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