OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO
nited’s frequent flyer program,
Mileage Plus, already enjoyed
top ratings in customer service, and the airline’s partnership with an expanding roster of Star Alliance partners —including Air New Zealand, Varig, and Lufthansa, among others—only increased the program’s appeal.
Unfortunately, a significant percentage of Mileage Plus members weren't aware they could earn and use miles with these partners, or that it would count toward their Premier status. United hoped to remedy that.
In addition, United wanted to promote College Plus, the new loyalty program they created for students enrolled in a four-year US college or university.
College Plus featured benefits similar to Mileage Plus—including recognition by Star Alliance partners—as well as other perks like special discounts, exclusive fares, and mileage bonuses to help students earn free flights more quickly.
PRINT + COLLATERAL + MAIL CAMPAIGN
UNITED AIRLINES WANTED TO LET TRAVELERS KNOW—COLLEGE STUDENTS,
IN PARTICULAR—THAT YOU COULD EARN AND USE MILES ON INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS WITH STAR ALLIANCE PARTNERS.
My Contributions: Content Strategy • Senior Copywriting + Editing • Concept Development • Client Presentation
The second phase was about retention of both Mileage Plus and College Plus members. Mailers, postcards, and newsletters were sent to make certain members were earning and using miles in the most advantageous ways possible. We weren’t shy about communicating mileage bonuses and fast-tracks to earning Premier status—the bold, colored headlines practically screamed the offers.
In addition, whenever a new domestic and/or international route was added to the growing list of Star Alliance carriers, we featured it front-and-center in the quarterly newsletters. We also promoted aircraft features—including United Economy Plus, which offered more leg room—and the luxuries available to travelers who reached United Premier Executive 1K status. It wasn’t long before customers became aware that United offered more bonuses, advantages, and flexibility than competing airlines.
The result: "United is Rising” and “Fly Wherever. Free" raised the airline's profile and realized a considerable return on investment.
We developed the “United is Rising” initiative for Mileage Plus members, and “Fly Wherever. Free” for potential College Plus members. Since Mileage Plus members were familiar with program benefits, the initiative was all about retention. Print ads (shown above) and #10 packages were developed to remind members that accrued miles were valid on 9 international airlines to hundreds of destinations. In other words, nearly the whole world was open to them. The #10 packages held a wealth of detailed information, and featured bold colors
and images of destinations that would result in the largest mileage bonuses. The strategy was to deluge members with privileges to make flying with United irresistible.
These #10 packages were sent to international Mileage Plus members, as well, and featured copy in native languages—Spanish and Mandarin, for example—alongside translations in English for business travelers or US expats.
Special care was taken to respect cultural differences, and to abide by different travel regulations and restrictions.
Since students were less savvy about benefits
and had less disposable income, the hook was simple: with College Plus, you can earn free flights, fast, to travel wherever you liked. The tagline, "Fly Wherever. Free" was introduced everywhere from campuses to shopping malls.
If a student signed up, they were sent a welcome packet with their membership card and a complete description of perks and privileges. In some cases, they were granted bonus miles.