Loyalty benefits

Unfortunately, over the last few years loyalty has really taken a back seat. Regular high spending customers have been largely ignored while occasional users have been encouraged to travel. While its important to attract new business, its equally important to recognise existing high spending customers, especially as there are other operators to use on the route.

Under the old scheme you knew if you purchased tickets direct from East Coast you would get rewarded. The benefits were structured in a way that even relatively small spenders could get some reward (for example WiFi or lounge pass) but the higher spenders got the greatest benefit. It meant that passengers had an incentive to make East Coast their first choice for travelling.

Virgin Trains East Coast prefer to reward passengers on a 'surprise and delight' basis. Unfortunately it does seem that the higher spenders have been ignored and it seems like more occasional users are more likely to get a surprise.

On the key London to Edinburgh route VTEC have to compete against airlines, there's a number of airline options including cheap Ryanair flights to Stansted and British Airways flights to London City which is particularly convenient for business travel.

To move travel from air to rail VTEC need to consider both passengers that put price above anything else but also business travellers who travel regularly and value convenience and comfort. A regular traveller on British Airways will earn status in their frequent traveller scheme whereas VTEC don't provide any benefits to their frequent travellers so even if you travel every week Edinburgh to London on full fare standard anytime tickets you will not receive any reward.

VTEC held a sale in early February offering 50% off advance tickets. This sale was only made available to a targeted group of customers, and it seems that nobody who has made a recent purchase on the VTEC website was rewarded with access to this sale.

We're not aware of any offers that have been exclusive to their best passengers but we've seen examples like this one, which target occasional users. 

As a footnote it's worth mentioning that Nectar has been taken over by Sainsbury's. Previously it was run by a third party (Aimia). It's not at this current time known whether Sainsbury's wants to change the scheme and what it'll mean for the other partners.

Next: On-board service