Maldives Launches Loyalty Program For Visitors

Filed Under: Travel

The Maldives has just become the first country in the world to launch a loyalty program for visitors. You’ll now be able to earn status and accrue points every time you enter the country.

Maldives Border Miles program details

The Maldives’ Minister of Tourism has announced the introduction of the “Maldives Border Miles” program, which is intended to reward repeat visitors to the country.

This is a joint effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Maldives Immigration, Maldives Airports, and the Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation.

As the program is described, you can “earn points with each border crossing, get privileges and enjoy exclusive benefits.”

The loyalty program has three tiers focused on promoting tourism. Tourists enrolled in the program will earn points for each border crossing, and can earn additional points for visits on special occasions. Once tourists reach a certain number of points, privileges are rewarded.

The three membership tiers are as follows:

  • The Bronze membership level is called Aida
  • The Silver membership level is called Antara
  • The Gold membership level is called Abaarana

In the coming weeks we should learn more details about the program, including how much travel is required to reach each tier, what kind of rewards are offered, etc.

The Maldives reopened to tourists from around the globe as of July 15, initially with very few requirements. Finally as of September 10 the country added a coronavirus testing requirement — testing is now required no more than 72 hours before departure.

My thoughts on the Maldives’ loyalty program

I’m intrigued by the Maldives’ loyalty program, as its the first of its kind. On the one hand, a program like this makes sense. The Maldives is heavily reliant on tourism, and tourism to the Maldives tends to be high-end.

I’d guess that on average each visitor contributes thousands of dollars to the Maldives’ economy, and heck, maybe even several hundred dollars in direct taxes. So I understand the desire to encourage tourism.

The Maldives is a super high end vacation destination

The way I view it, there are two general challenges with the concept of this loyalty program.

First of all, loyalty programs work best when they move the needle with consumer behavior. Will anyone travel to the Maldives because of this loyalty program? Will this cause people to plan a trip to the Maldives that they wouldn’t have otherwise taken, or go to the Maldives instead of another destination? That’s doubtful.

That also gets at the second point — the Maldives is a premium vacation destination, so if you want to encourage people to plan expensive trips, you also have to offer premium rewards. Getting a koozie as a reward after five trips to the Maldives is unlikely to generate much goodwill, and might even be counterproductive.

That raises the question of what kind of meaningful benefits could be offered, especially when you consider that visitors tend to be isolated on resort islands when visiting the Maldives. Will the country work with hotels to offer special rewards?

The only obvious valuable benefit I can come up with off the top of my head would be a fast track airport service, whether that comes in the form of expedited immigration, or a meet-and-greet service on departure to get you all the way to your gate quickly.

Could this program offer special perks at the airport?

Bottom line

The Maldives has become the first country in the world to launch a loyalty program for visitors. There will be three “elite” tiers, and members will earn points for border crossings, as well as special occasions.

I look forward to seeing more details about the program, including what it takes to earn status, as well as what the rewards will be.

I’m skeptical about the extent to which a program like this could impact consumer behavior, and also think that the rewards have to be at least semi-meaningful for this to have any positive impact.

What kind of rewards would you like to see from the Maldives’ loyalty program?

  1. I appreciate the creativeness on their part. Tourism ministries worldwide will have to think outside of the box more now than ever.

  2. I’m struggling to see how they can achieve repeat visitor status for what is usually considered an iconic once-in-a-lifetime destination. Even from A-listers.

  3. Curious as to what rewards they’ll offer. Like you say, people dropping thousands of dollars on a vacay to the Maldives will want a meaningful reward in order to nudge them to make a potential repeat trip (e.g. I could see this moving the needle if a couple is considering a repeat trip for an anniversary and can’t decide on a destination). From what I hear, though, there isn’t much to do in the Maldives, so not sure how many repeat visitors they’d get because of this.

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