Singapore Airlines (SIA) has started a loyalty scheme for small and medium-sized firms, to create new revenue streams amid tough times that have hit profits.
SIA said about 400 companies have already signed up for the programme, which was launched a month ago. It targets firms that are not able to qualify for the SIA Corporate Travel Programme, which comes with conditions attached.
For example, there is an annual minimum spending requirement of $50,000, which smaller firms are unlikely to be able to meet. The new programme, tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), has no such criteria.
It is designed to reward both corporations and employees when they fly with SIA and SilkAir, SIA's area vice-president (Singapore) Alan Lim, said yesterday.
Companies will earn HighFlyer points while employees continue to earn KrisFlyer miles each time an employee flies with any of the two carriers.
Even as he acknowledged that a more competitive market in the last few years and businesses becoming more cost-conscious have impacted yields across the business, there has been no drop in the number of firms on its corporate travel programme, Mr Lim said.
For competitive reasons, he declined to reveal the actual number, which runs into the thousands.
The launch of the new scheme for smaller businesses has more to do with SIA wanting to reach out to a growing business segment, he said.
The need to cast a wider net has become a key strategy of the SIA group as it continues to grapple with intense competition.
Mr Lim did not rule out extending the loyalty programme for SMEs to also include the group's budget arms, Scoot and Tigerair, which are being merged.
Rival low-cost carrier Jetstar already has a similar scheme, which was enhanced in September last year to offer firms more flexibility.
Among the perks: Business travellers can change flight details, at no extra cost, and are also able to hold a confirmed booking for 48 hours before payment, while they confirm meetings and other plans.
Credit voucher refunds are also given for last-minute cancellations.
A spokesman for The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises said that such initiatives are welcome, as they offer companies more choices.
"At the end of the day though, it comes down to cost, which is the most important consideration for SMEs," he said.