Qantas’ epiQure community connects food-loving frequent flyers

Despite the large number of travel-related social networks around, several airlines have launched social networks of their own in the past years. Think BA’s Metrotwin, Virgin Atlantic’s vtravelled.com, Air France-KLM’s Bluenity and American Airlines’ BlackAtlas.com. Other airlines, such as KLM (Club China, Club Africa, Flying Blue Golf), Lufthansa (Miles & More MemberScout), BA (Face-to-Face, and Etihad (Golf Club, IndiaConnect) have launched business-oriented social networks for members of their frequent flyer programs.

The fortunes of these communities have been mixed, as shown by a lack of conversations between members and outdated feature content. The basic idea f an airline-facilitated online community makes sense though, as the airline business is essentially about connecting people. The latest kid on the block is Qantas, which in June 2011 launched a community build around food and wine.

Qantas epiQure
Aiming to tap into its 7.8 million members-base, Qantas Frequent Flyer, the loyalty program of Qantas, has launched EpiQure as a more in-depth feature of its existing program. Combining the online community with real-life events, the wine and food community gives members access to “on-line forums to gain knowledge from industry experts, wine selected by the Qantas Wine Panel, personalised winery tours in every Australian wine region and invitation to dinners with globally renowned chefs.” Among the Australian chefs to be part of the community is Qantas in-flight consultant and celebrity chef, Neil Perry, who designed the airline’s international in-flight menu.

Says Qantas Frequent Flyer CEO Simon Hickey: “According to our research, one of the key areas of interest for Qantas Frequent Flyer members, apart from travel, is in the food and wine arena, so we developed a premium program to cater to those desires by drawing on Qantas’ exclusive access to wine vintages and industry experts.” […] “We want to share Qantas’ commitment to promoting the best Australian wine and food with our members.”

The Epiqure community was launched by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Neil Perry at Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney and Melbourne in July 2011. Rene Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Copenhagen restaurant Noma, voted best restaurant in the world in the past to years, was present as a special guest.

The fee for joining epiQure is AUD99 (USD105, EUR75), or 130,000 frequent flyer points, per year, for which members also receive a “welcome gift” consisting of wine valued at ASD130. They also can earn points per dollar on purchases of wine and event tickets via epiQure, and when dining at 250 Qantas Frequent Flyer partner restaurants.

Related articles:
Qantas unveils iPhone app for frequent flyers, adds augmented reality
British Airways and Air New Zealand latest airlines to launch online business communities
Airline’s social networks connect frequent flyers (Springwise)

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