JetBlue's Loyalty Lessons: Let Customers Decide

JetBlue Points for GoodLocals may be well on their way to digging out after Hurricane Sandy, but JetBlue says it is still learning from the cause-related program it hustled to put into place in the days after the storm.

Working with KULA Causes, JetBlue set up a giving platform just days after the storm passed through New York and New Jersey, which allowed the airline’s frequent fliers to donate directly to the American Red Cross. What made the program different, though, is that JetBlue rewarded its members for doing so, doling out six TrueBlue points for every dollar donated.

“We went to KULA and asked them to help us get this in place quickly,” Dave Canty, JetBlue’s director of loyalty marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “We put the information out on our Web site and pushed it out through social networks. We had thought we might generate $40,000 or $50,000, and that JetBlue would match it. And the results were extraordinary. We surpassed that goal within the first hour, and in November, raised a total of $800,000.”

It was especially important to the company, he says, “because we are the hometown airline of New York, and this was right on our doorstep. Not only were customers affected and displaced, “so were our crew members. We had already been in conversations with KULA, and we really just wanted to get funds to the Red Cross as quickly as possible.”

Following the success of the Sandy donations, JetBlue and KULA then cooked up another twist on True Giving, letting each member turn their unused JetBlue points into gifts for 2.5 million nonprofits in 80 countries.

“We’ve gone out and talked to TrueBlue customers, and asked them what they wanted,” Mark Dority, KULA’s director of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. “And customers have always said, 'I’d love to be able to donate my points.’” 

Customers can make donations to the charity of their choice by entering a group’s name, a region, or a cause, and make donations in points, with JetBlue matching some gifts. They can even click within functions in each group, so they can send their points-as-cash gifts to focus on such areas as development, training, or advocacy. KULA then emails the receipts to customers.

For Canty, the success of the Sandy program and the new True Giving isn’t just raising cash for causes, it’s that it is doing so in support of the brand’s personality. “Our mission is bringing humanity back to air travel,” Canty says, “and these efforts really speak to that, to the brand’s humanity.”

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3 comments about "JetBlue's Loyalty Lessons: Let Customers Decide ".
  1. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship , December 18, 2012 at 8:51 a.m.
    I asked this question on the past post about this program and never received and answer. Not that I ever receive a reply to a comment on MediaPost, but who knows... maybe we can break new ground. What is the conversion rate to $'s for giving TrueBlue points to a charitable cause? Looking forward to a reply, but not holding my breath ;-)
  2. Phil Rubin from rDialogue , December 18, 2012 at 1:01 p.m.
    Ted - surprise! It's funny (sad perhaps) that there are so few comments on these posts. The conversion rate is about .75 cents ($0.0075) per point. You get a $10 donation for 1,334 points, at least at the sample I looked at. The rate holds at various donation levels. Phil
  3. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship , December 18, 2012 at 1:11 p.m.
    Thanks Phil... and I really like your atitude and sense of humor. But I was referring to the fact that the authors of these posts never bother replying to questions or comments ;-) That is a reasonable credit, especially if they are matching. It then qualifies as a match that has value instead of simply another way to inexpensively retire points.