Maldives Launches ‘Border Miles’ Rewards Program

The principles of loyalty marketing can be applied across industries, and the basics are very much the same: recognition (elite benefits) and reward (redemption). While the most successful programs have been in travel – airlines have turned their marketing programs from a cost center into a profit engine – loyalty marketing is important to anywhere consumers make repeated choices.

And we’ve even seen some of the stranger programs follow airlines in devaluing their points, from blood banks to 7-11.

While a few years ago a major aircraft manufacturer even considered launching a cross-airline loyalty program rewarding travel on one of their aircraft, we haven’t seen loyalty programs take off everywhere.

The Maldives, though, has a new entry into the loyalty program space: Maldives Border Miles which has just been announced, but where details remain sparse. We know that they’ll award points each time you enter the country, and they’ll offer benefits that match the tier status you earn in the program.

  • Bronze level is “Aida”
  • Silver level is “Antara”
  • Gold level is “Abaarana”

I’ve been trying to get back to the Maldives and cancelled each of my last 3 trips. However it remains the beach resort destination I’ve visited most over the past decade, staying at the Park Hyatt Maldives half a dozen times. I don’t expect my past visits will count towards initial status, nor perhaps will they offer any kind of ‘status matching’.

What kind of benefits could move the needle on tourist loyalty? Maldives stays tend to be expensive and one of the primary limiting factors on generosity of a loyalty program is revenue per transaction and margin, both of which are generally high here. But what could a tourism program offer, besides perhaps expedited immigration? Maybe a rebate on tourism taxes offered in the form of credits to spend on future trips?

If someone were well treated enough that could be reason to return versus exploring a new destination, and credit to be used on a future trip creates an incentive to do so as well, although it’s not yet clear how they’ll deliver on a theoretically workable proposition.

The idea of loyalty marketing isn’t completely foreign in government. For instance in 2007 the nascent Obama campaign for President launched the Obama points program. The 2016 Trump campaign offered an elite program and even ran a qualifying dollars promotion.

Some jurisdictions offer frequent visitor cards, usually expediting immigration but also offering discounts on activities. For repeat tourism loyalty can make a lot of sense, if officials can get the execution right.

The Maldives is currently open to tourism with a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure. For two months they offered total openness – passengers secluded on otherwise-uninhabited islands, exposed only to resort staff but in a largely social distanced outdoor environment seemed possible to manage. They did see some spread of the virus and decided to put a testing restriction in place.

(HT: God Save the Points)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The elite travel program that works for the Maldives might also help increase tourism to destination hot spots like St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, San Francisco, or Chicago. Why travel to the Maldives when these U.S. cities are also adjacent to a pristine body of water?

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