Flying Blue (the loyalty program of Air France and KLM) landed the International, Gold Winner award at the inaugural Loyalty360 Awards held Monday at the 7th Annual Loyalty Expo, presented by Loyalty360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association.

Every time someone books an applicable flight with Air France or KLM, or any of its airline partners, Flying Blue lets customers earn miles by just mentioning their Flying Blue number.

There are two types of Miles: Award Miles and Level Miles. Award Miles can be spent on tickets, upgrades, Promo Awards, or products and services from 130 partners.

Level Miles brings customers to a higher Flying Blue membership level that offers extra services and benefits. With a higher membership level, customers are entitled to a bonus of Award Miles for applicable flights.

Flying Blue has four different levels of membership: Ivory, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. As members travel more, they are rewarded for their loyalty with more Miles, additional services, and ever-increasing benefits by simply mentioning or showing a Flying Blue card.

Sebastien Reliat-Brunettiere, Deputy VP loyalty marketing and communication for the Flying Blue loyalty program, told Loyalty360 that the program had to become even more customer-focused following aggressive staff reductions in the past 18 months with almost 8,000 jobs lost. Air France-KLM, the third-largest airline in Europe based on number of passengers, expects to return to profitability by 2015.

“Crisis changed all,” he said. “It pushes you to be more customer-focused. The customer became volatile and opportunistic. We had to rebuild a relationship with them. With increasing digital approach and emerging Big Data, you can’t do marketing without an ROI approach and loyalty tools. It takes good sense. You need data, you need a solid CRM strategy, and you need to orchestrate communications better to avoid customer inefficiencies.”

Reliat-Brunettiere said that a Voice of the Customer strategy has had the greatest impact on the loyalty program.

“We stopped to look at short-term revenue and started to look at long-term profitability through customer insight,” he said. “Flying Blue members are bringing more revenue, are more profitable and a loyalty program plays a huge role when a customer purchases a ticket. Insight analysis and data did the job.”

Reliat-Brunettiere said personalization is important, but tricky.

“You have to be relevant for the customer, but still be able to respond to their needs, and then you have a trusted relationship you want to build on,” he explained. “He has what he expects and you go beyond his expectations.”

A total of 187 entries was submitted across seven categories by a total of 58 brands for the Loyalty360 Awards.

Loyalty360 called on a group of 24 industry experts to apply their extensive knowledge of loyalty marketing to identify the brands that are true Loyalty leaders. Judges were asked to evaluate each entry by applying a score of 1-10 based on how well the brand performed against a number of quantitative and qualitative criteria. The result was an objective and unbiased ranking of loyalty leaders.

Loyalty Expo is being held March 17-19, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida.

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