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Saturday February 25, 2012

BIG aims big, eyes three million members by year-end

By DALJIT DHESI
daljit@thestar.com.my


BIG, the global loyalty programme jointly operated by AirAsia and Tune Money, is targeting a total card membership base of about three million by year-end from more than 100,000 currently by forging alliances with reputable partners, locally and abroad, as well as banking on the low cost carrier's global brand name.

Its chief executive officer Johan Aris Ibrahim tells StarBizWeek that since the inception of the loyalty programme in November last year, he expects the brand to further gain momentum in the market via more tie-ups with merchants and partners.

In Malaysia, the BIG card doubles up as a BIG Visa Prepaid Card which cardholders can reload at all major banks or online at BIG's website www.tune2big.com and shop at millions of merchants worldwide where Visa is accepted, both online and over the counter.

Johan showing off a BIG card

“We will be signing-up more partners, one of which is an oil company operating in the country, to boost the card membership and usage. Besides this, the BIG Visa Prepaid Card will also be introduced in Thailand and Indonesia by end of the year to deepen our penetration into these markets,'' he says during an interview.

In December last year, the BIG card was launched in Indonesia but did not have a prepaid function nor Visa payment facilities and a similar one was introduced in Thailand this month.

By having Visa payment applications, Johan says he is upbeat that the card will be better received worldwide due to the global payment network and enable more points to be collected when a person travels with AirAsia, shops or dines at selected merchants globally.

The response for the card, he says, could be gauged when it was first launched last November with 30,000 applications even before it was formally advertised, adding that it now has more than 100,000 members comprising 125 nationalities, mainly from Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, China and India. And this figure is expected to grow rapidly with more merchants and partners joining the programme coupled with the benefits it provides.

Points collected by BIG cardholders, called BIG Points, can be redeemed for free AirAsia flights and other exciting rewards. Besides AirAsia, its other programme partners include Tune Group of companies, Indosat in Indonesia and CentralWorld in Thailand.

Anyone aged two years and above is eligible to be a BIG card member while for the BIG Visa Prepaid card, it is for those aged 18 and above. BIG is owned, marketed and operated by Think Big Digital, a 50:50 joint venture between AirAsia and Tune Money.

The main difference of BIG from other loyalty programmes, he says, is that the former will enable cardholders to obtain points upon spending with any of its partners and merchants globally while the latter is based on air miles.

Apart from this, Johan stresses that there is no processing fee for BIG Visa Prepaid cardmembers who purchase AirAsia and AirAsia X flight seats online at www.airasia.com.

BIG is the only payment card accorded that privilege by AirAsia. He says the main focus for BIG will still be the Asean market but nonetheless may cater to other markets such as Australia, for example, as there has been a strong demand for such product.

Currently there are over 500 online merchants, including AirAsia and AirAsia X, AirAsia Go, AirAsiaRedTix, Tune Hotels, ShopBIG (an online mall for international e-commerce merchants including Apple and Marks & Spencer) and over 1,000 Visa merchants worldwide.

The merchants in Malaysia include SOGO, Hard Rock Hotels, Concorde Hotels, BP Healthcare, CIMB Bank, Citibank.

Among some of the merchants in Indonesia are in Bandung (Heritage, Cascade and Brands United), Indosat, HSBC, Kidzania Jakarta and Hard Rock. Merchants in Thailand includes Hard Rock Pattaya , F&B outlets at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Black Canyon Coffee, Central Dept Store, Citibank Thai and Kasikorn Bank.

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