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New VP of Loyalty at United Airlines Is One To Watch

United Airlines has a new VP of Loyalty, Luc Bondar, who assumed his new post on Nov. 1.

Bondar replaced Praveen Sharma as Sharma takes on the role of Vice President of Digital Products and Analytics. Bondar previously served as Senior Vice President at Aimia.

Bondar is an experienced loyalty marketing executive. He has served as Senior Vice President for U.S. business at Aimia and a Senior Vice President with Grupe Aeroplan, as well as Vice President of Loyalty for Carlson.

David Andreadakis, Chief Strategy Officer at Kobie Marketing, told Loyalty360 that he believes Bondar is a massive hire for United and is definitely one to watch.

“I rarely get excited about a single hire ... after all, what can one executive do in a large organization?” Andreadakis explained. “However, I’m excited about this one. This is one to watch. Luc’s background is in the crosshairs of game-changing customer experience and customer-centric B2B networks. You don’t hire someone like him without expecting a serious challenge to the current customer value prop and status quo.
A few months ago, I wrote an article challenging United to do better. Clearly, they intend to do so.”

Andreadakis offered a comprehensive response when asked why he thinks Bondar is a great hire for United.

Communication: “Airlines continue to get a negative hit to their loyalty programs from customers that have traveled long enough to experience significant cutbacks in airline service and loyalty program benefits,” he said. “Interestingly enough, airline programs have actually increased their benefits in recent years and tried to make their most valuable customers feel exceptional. So, the first thing Luc should do is take an inventory of the great things United Airlines is doing and make sure they are getting credit for it in the market, both with members and non-members alike.”

Value Exchange: “It’s not enough to make sure that there is a great program appeal,” he noted. “Airlines also need to make sure that customers understand their value, what they can do to increase their standing and, of course, make it attainable. Having worked with Luc in the past, I’m sure he will certainly pay attention to this area. The financial considerations are complex and not as easy as outsiders would expect, but I anticipate that we will see some creative ways of adding value while increasing the benefit of the program to United Airlines.”

Partnerships and experiences: “Airline partnerships while strong, are often predictable, financially driven, and quite expected from customers,” Andreadakis explained. “Luc has a history of working with multiple entities to drive experiences beyond the transaction. As a priority, this should be high for United but will take some time, so I wouldn’t expect to see changes before immediately. But when this does happen, I think we’ll see a better overall experience that extends deeper into the relationship with the customer.”

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