“The role that chatbots and AI has played in marrying a marketer’s objectives with the customers’ needs has been huge”— Manish Dureja, Managing Director, JetPrivilege

“The role that chatbots and AI has played in marrying a marketer’s objectives with the customers’ needs has been huge”— Manish Dureja, Managing Director, JetPrivilege

JetPrivilege, the loyalty, rewards and recognition programme of Jet Airways, turns twenty-five this year. The programme has evolved and grown significantly from about 72 programme partners and 2.8 million members in 2013 to nearly 150+ partners and a 9.5 million strong member family today. It has now been successfully established as a data-led customer engagement platform, backed by ‘Miles’ as the motivational currency, earned by members as and when they transact with partners.

Read on as we interview Mr. Manish Dureja Managing Director – JetPrivilege, an industry expert with over 20 years of experience. He has been spearheading the initiatives at Jetprivilege, ever since the company carved out from Jet Airways. A technology aficionado at heart, data and innovation lies at the core of Manish’s work ethos, who in his own words, wishes to ‘use data as a fuel to drive actionable insights and build simple solutions to hack profitable growth in all businesses in order to support our partner’s individual objectives of loyalty’.

1. JetPrivilege is one of the leading loyalty and rewards management programmes. Give our readers a quick overview – from its inception to where it is today.

As JetPrivilege turns twenty-five this year, we are reflective of the wonderful journey this far and invigorated to take on the future. The programme has evolved and grown significantly from about 72 programme partners and 2.8 million members in 2013 to nearly 150+ partners and a 9.5 million strong member family today.

It was in 2012 that Jet Privilege Private Limited (JPPL) was formed as a 100% subsidiary of Jet Airways. Following the strategic alliance between Jet Airways and Etihad Airways, in 2013, a proper structured business plan was put in place and in April 2014, JPPL started operating as an independent entity.

The idea for JetPrivilege was very simple, we wanted to carve out the business of JetPrivilege being managed by department out of the airline and run it as a separate entity. In the last five years, we have been successful in establishing our programme as a data-led customer engagement platform, backed by ‘Miles’, as a motivational currency. Mileage is earned by members as and when they transact with any of our partners.

The JetPrivilege model is unique because while systems like cash back could be easily replicated, the value that is offered by a mileage currency is in a different category altogether. Here, the customer has a deep emotional value attached, as there is a sense of achievement when they are finally able to redeem their miles for something they desire (aspire). For our members, getting an opportunity to travel, stay at a hotel, buy a product, free of cost, or at a huge discount is a key motivational factor.

Our forward-looking objective is to stay focused in the travel and lifestyle space and carve out a niche within that for ourselves, given that this sector and our understanding of it is the value creation zone. At JetPrivilege, customers i.e. our members and partners are of top priority and our aim is to identify the opportunities in their day-to-day lifecycle where we can add value. Thus, making their experience with us memorable, meaningful and aspirational.

2. With a good two decade experience in strategizing to ensure good customer experience, you know the industry inside-out. You were also felicitated at DMAsia Hall of Fame for your significant contributions in marketing. Please share your experience with us.

Through the years of my professional journey, I have gained firsthand experience of the evolution of marketing, transformation of trends and intervention of technology. I have been a firm believer of direct marketing which itself has evolved into digital and performance marketing. It has been a fascinating journey. I am humbled and honored to be recognized by the DMAsia Hall of Fame award. But I still have a lot to learn and look forward to contributing more in the years to come.

3. How does your organization manage the vast amount of data generated through the loyalty programs? What significant role does advanced technologies play in this?

We have built certain internal capabilities and internal data modeling currently is being undertaken to use advanced technology to predict the member behavior. I think, at the end of the day, marketing is a lot about optimization itself. In an ever expanding, competitive landscape, every brand’s challenge is how to seize, save and optimize the customer’s time while ensuring that they create value at each touchpoint.

If through data analytics, we are able to predict their next steps, the customers would appreciate that added personalization of service offerings. As a brand, we would have saved their time and given them a rewarding and memorable experience. As initial steps, we are in the process of building a dedicated data science team which will work towards implementing, innovating and enhancing this engagement and constantly refining the models to understand better.

To run the data model and make the process efficient, it requires innovative technology that is available on the edge and is capable of adapting fast, thereby with significant compute power for ML algorithm. Given the advancement in cloud technology, it’s not difficult to use these platforms and customize them to your requirements. With a good data governance framework, our attempt is to build technical and people capability in this area.

4. As a strong advocator of digital marketing, how do you ensure relevance of digital marketing activities in your organization?

As a marketing organization centered on customer delight, all our employees have some form of exposure in digital marketing. My role as a leader, has been to a large extent focused on capability building of our team, which I motivate by investing in digital tools, learning platforms and other relevant areas. In fact, all employees at JetPrivilege need to undergo 4 days of mandatory training as part of their learning & development in a financial year, part of which, is dedicated towards digital marketing.

5. What is the state of digital marketing in India according to you?

Digital marketing is evolving, and we will continue to do so with new technology platforms and proliferation of data with the advent of IoT and multiplicity of devices. The biggest challenge for marketers is going to be time. How to seize customer attention or save time for customers? Digital footprint / trail of customers if harnessed well using permission marketing tools, would enable customer data to be used for personalization and making conversation more relevant.

Today it’s possible for marketers to understand their audience better through advanced ranking algorithms and the intervention of artificial intelligence.  This has resulted in businesses now increasingly shifting from mass media centric, one-to-many approach to a more digitally driven, data enabled one-to-one approach. The more recent incarnation of ‘one-to-moment’ marketing has further pushed the effectiveness of digital marketing, and as a result, provided businesses a clear screening of their target customers as well as bettered the manner in which they communicate.

A recent study by KPMG has predicted that digital advertising revenues which is currently growing at 30% CAGR is expected to surpass INR 150 billion. The government’s pro-digital agenda resulting in improved smartphone and Internet penetration, increased adaption and data becoming more affordable has furthered this growth.  In spite of the encouraging digital push, supplemented by internet penetration into the tier II & III markets of India, traditional marketing still makes up a significant chunk for a business’s marketing mix, however, this is changing fast.

6. Technology progression, increasing mobile workforce and screenagers, open a world of opportunities for digital marketers to promote their products. What are your views on the traditional marketing vs new-age digital marketing debate?

At JetPrivilege, we believe in following an integrated, omni channel approach to establish an enhanced connect with our programme members.  An intelligent marketer knows his customers well to decide which medium of communication would work best – traditional, digital or a mix of both. Right from who your target customers are to what is the market one is operating in, there are a lot of factors that go into identifying the best marketing tool to communicate.

7. What trends according to you will rule the digital marketing space in 2019?

Digital marketing witnessed exponential growth in 2018 with video marketing, chatbots and storytelling making major strides. At the pace at which digital marketing is growing and with the discerning Indian consumer increasingly demanding more personalized experiences, 2019 offers an even more promising future for the industry. The trends that I see taking off majorly are:

Increased usage of Artificial Intelligence & ML

It is needless to say the role that Chatbots and artificial intelligence has played in marrying a marketer’s objectives with the customers’ needs has been huge. Owing to the immense success of this technological revolution, coupled by how today customers are choosing personalized experiences over generic ones, marketers will be compelled to integrate their businesses with the benefits that Bot technology and AI offer in order to thrive and survive.

Personalization of customer approach

Today customers too are becoming extremely vocal about their personal preferences. Digital mediums offers them a platform to communicate with brands directly. Either way, the internet helps a marketer to both identify their target audience as well as design the best suitable pitch plan to engage with them. Towards the end of the year, it is quite possible that targeted digitization of marketing efforts will be the norm of the industry.

Videos replacing traditional advertising

By 2020, it is estimated that video content and marketing will account for 80% of the total internet traffic. Given that the average attention span of a person is short, it is more likely that brand messaging will be consumed over bite-sized videos rather than lengthy blogs. With social media becoming an indispensable part of life and video content dominating these platforms, videos offer an effective mode for marketers to get their communication across to audiences for elevated awareness and longer recall.

Suggested reading: “Banks to experiment with new mobile applications and voice-enabled gadgets to enhance both delivery and contextual personalization”—Saket Agarwal, Global CEO, Spice Money

8. What’s in the JetPrivilege roadmap for 2019 – any new announcement, strategic alliances coming up?

We have some great strategic alliances that we are looking forward to.

9. As a leader and expert in digital marketing, what advice do you have for the young leaders in the digital marketing space?

The digital marketing world is ever changing and dynamic. I would advise young leaders to constantly evolve, adapt and learn to ensure their brand stays relevant to audiences. Staying on top of trends is extremely crucial – be it through new marketing tools or social media platforms.

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1 Comment

  1. Great thoughts by Manish!!
    Really good one ….


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