Cathay: New “Premium Lifestyle Travel Brand”

Cathay: New “Premium Lifestyle Travel Brand”

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While some airlines are starting to see a rise in passenger demand, Cathay Pacific continues to suffer, with Hong Kong’s borders more or less remaining closed. So the airline is looking elsewhere to generate revenue, in the form of a new “premium lifestyle travel brand.” This change is pretty smart, if you ask me, even if you take coronavirus out of the equation.

Cathay Pacific launches “Cathay”

“Cathay” is the name of Cathay Pacific’s new premium lifestyle travel brand, which is launching today. First and foremost, Cathay Pacific isn’t rebranding — the airline will maintain its name.

As it’s described, the new program aims to bring all that we love about travel together with everyday lifestyle. Over the coming months, “Cathay” will be rolling out a range of new offers in spending, dining, shopping, hotels, and wellness, allowing Cathay Pacific to engage with customers not only when they fly, but every day.

“Cathay” is a collaboration between Cathay Pacific, Marco Polo Club, and Asia Miles, and it’s intended to simplify the ways that customers interact with the airline, including how they earn status. We should see a “refreshed customer relationship program” launched in the first half of 2022. The program will first launch in Hong Kong, and is then expected to expand to other markets over time.

“Cathay” is also intended to make the carrier’s propositions more appealing, by introducing a wider range of products and services. The first product will be a new co-branded credit card, which will be launching in Hong Kong.

As Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang describes the new program:

“Our ability to enter the travel lifestyle space and the success of this strategy is built upon the enduring strength, trust and respect that Cathay Pacific has established over 75 years of accomplishments, and the hard work and dedication of our people around the world.

At the heart of the ‘Cathay’ brand is a celebration of all the best things we love – and have missed – about travel. We are very proud to have been connecting our customers with people, places and experiences around the world through the joy of travel

‘Cathay’ reinforces our commitment to engage with our customers in their everyday lives with world-class service. By adding more value and simplicity, we are helping to move them forward in life as per our ‘Move Beyond’ purpose.”

Here’s a video about the new “Cathay” program:

And here are some of the initial marketing materials:

Why the “Cathay” branding makes sense

Understandably some people might be scratching their heads about what’s going on here. What’s Cathay Pacific’s real motivation here? I’ll share my read on the situation.

Loyalty programs can be huge businesses for airlines, and that can go way beyond flying. For airlines in the United States, more miles are issued through non-flying activity than through flying activity, and that’s done by engaging with members in a variety of ways — through co-branded credit cards, partnerships, shopping portals, and more.

Cathay Pacific’s current frequent flyer program setup is rather confusing, and doesn’t leverage the brand’s global recongition well:

  • Lots of people are familiar with Cathay Pacific as an airline
  • Then there’s Marco Polo Club, which is Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program; if you fly Cathay Pacific frequently, you’d earn status with Marco Polo Club
  • Then there’s Asia Miles, which is Cathay Pacific’s rewards program; when you earn miles for Cathay Pacific flights, that’s through Asia Miles

As you can see, the branding is confusing — when you fly Cathay Pacific you earn status with Marco Polo Club and miles with Asia Miles, and that’s unnecessarily complicated. My guess is that the new “Cathay” program is intended to simplify that.

No, Cathay Pacific as an airline won’t be rebranding

Bottom line

“Cathay” is a new travel lifestyle brand being launched by Cathay Pacific. No, the airline isn’t actually rebranding, but rather it seems that Cathay Pacific is trying to do a better job of branding its non-flying revenue opportunities.

Currently Cathay Pacific has a rather complicated rewards structure, given the use of both Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles. Cathay Pacific is looking to better leverage its brand recognition with this change, and I think that makes perfect sense.

What do you make of Cathay Pacific launching “Cathay,” and what do you think the practical implications are?

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  1. Wilhelm

    Sounds exciting. Assume your social score will decide which level you can achieve?

  2. TC

    Actually, the first thing that came to my mind is not whether the miles needed for flights will increase (more likely than not - kinda have to accept it, like inflation), but whether all the points I have stashed in credit cards can continue to be converted to Asia Miles (or whatever they will call it in the future).

    Actually, if they reduce the miles needed to redeem other things like hotel stays (I...

    Actually, the first thing that came to my mind is not whether the miles needed for flights will increase (more likely than not - kinda have to accept it, like inflation), but whether all the points I have stashed in credit cards can continue to be converted to Asia Miles (or whatever they will call it in the future).

    Actually, if they reduce the miles needed to redeem other things like hotel stays (I did that once in my younger, more naive days, for Shangri-La Singapore no less), cinemas, spending vouchers, etc., it might make for a better "lifestyle" programme?

  3. Mike1957

    Admin: why allowing so many irrelevant political comments?

  4. Mike1957

    Rebranding under the Cathay name makes sense: having three brands for three programs is confusing. But the PR seems all fluff and nothing new of substance: getting award seats is very hard compared to competition, will that change? Their non-mile awards are uninteresting with little true value. Will that change?

  5. Creditian

    Cathay Dining;
    Cathay Shopping;
    Cathay Travel;
    What else?

  6. Caleb

    What a meaningless, vapid video. What does this demonstrate?

  7. Phil Y

    I couldn't get what this video's point - looks to me it is trying to make a picture of modern/healthy/fashion living style but the whole video could be viewed as have nothing to do with an airline......

  8. Scott M

    Not difficult to pick out the CCP trolls in this thread is it?

    This program is a crock of shit, feel bad Hong Kong.

    We all know that dictatorships are crushing their societies.

    To attack GOP in cheap shot is pitiful and shows that freedomlover is neither for freedom or love.

    True America will never surrender. It is set up like the internet. Decentralized and self regenerating. Don’t bet against USA to once again save the world.

  9. G.Orwell

    CX is now controlled by the Communist regime who sit on the Board and have the final say in all decisions. Any body travelling on CX must realise their details are shared with the Communist Police in HK and you risk arrest upon arrival in HK if you have ever criticised the CCP

  10. Philip Elliott

    If an airline has a successful loyalty program, it can borrow against that asset . The confusing structure of the Cathay loyalty scheme meant other airlines have an advantage in being able to borrow money at low interest rates.

  11. Apsø Eyot

    I... am scratching my head. I still don’t quite get what this is supposed to be. Does this mean the end of Asia Miles and Marco Polo or merger of the two into this new “Cathay” lifestyle brand? For the shopping part, is Cathay going to be launching merchandise like fashion items with its brand on it or something? Will they be producing the amenity kits onboard their flights? How would the non-product stuff, like...

    I... am scratching my head. I still don’t quite get what this is supposed to be. Does this mean the end of Asia Miles and Marco Polo or merger of the two into this new “Cathay” lifestyle brand? For the shopping part, is Cathay going to be launching merchandise like fashion items with its brand on it or something? Will they be producing the amenity kits onboard their flights? How would the non-product stuff, like wellness programs, under this new brand work exactly, and how would it be different than before? Kind of bored but also genuinely curious right now.

  12. scottz95

    So essentially, their new strategy is to copy Qantas? Qantas has had this approach for years where it has pivoted from being a travel brand to a lifestyle brand with a range of ancillary services whitelabeled under their brand (Various personal insurance products, Wellbeing challenges, wine club, shopping, dining, etc) and has a points-earning integration on them whilst collecting commissions for brand use from the underlying product issuers. This is in addition to credit cards...

    So essentially, their new strategy is to copy Qantas? Qantas has had this approach for years where it has pivoted from being a travel brand to a lifestyle brand with a range of ancillary services whitelabeled under their brand (Various personal insurance products, Wellbeing challenges, wine club, shopping, dining, etc) and has a points-earning integration on them whilst collecting commissions for brand use from the underlying product issuers. This is in addition to credit cards and travel related brands.

    It’s been pretty successful admittedly. Pretty sure total revenue for Loyalty last year was about $350M and profitable despite the rest of the airline taking a bath due to the pandemic.

  13. Geezer Ed

    Conventional operation + large helping of BS = "lifestyle" operation.

  14. Jenni Lee

    @DeePee
    As an American living in HKG, I can assure you that the economy will not collapse and has shown little sign of slowing down. There are no restrictions to our freedom of movement and we have not even had any lockdowns like Taiwan or Singapore. Your expat friends have the choice to leave for good if they are unhappy with the current regulations. The airport is open and there are flights operating to many popular destinations.

  15. DeePee

    Been to HKG 100+ times (quarterly since the handover).
    My ex-pat and local pals there have been trapped for over a year even though cases are near zero.
    The goal of the lockdown is clear. The CCP is going to use it as an excuse to limit freedom of movement.
    I've got a friend who is married to a Cathay pilot. She says the morale of the corps is extremely low due...

    Been to HKG 100+ times (quarterly since the handover).
    My ex-pat and local pals there have been trapped for over a year even though cases are near zero.
    The goal of the lockdown is clear. The CCP is going to use it as an excuse to limit freedom of movement.
    I've got a friend who is married to a Cathay pilot. She says the morale of the corps is extremely low due to the lack of work, the grueling flight schedules and quarantine rules, and the transfer from leisure to cargo flights.
    HKG will have no choice but to reopen soon or their economy will collapse.
    And that may be the CCP's strategy...
    A dependent HKG is a compliant HKG...

    1. Chan

      Collapse? It's quite obvious that Hong Kong is not a country that depends on tourism.

  16. Unhoeflich

    They will be releasing a new app so members can report other passengers who say non-patriotic things about China. /s

    1. Free Hong Kong

      1 report and you make Marco Polo green. 10 to make silver, 25 for gold and 50 for diamond.

      3x points for each successful conviction from your reports. /s

      Seriously, for those who claim to be “woke”, how they refuse to acknowledge the atrocities going on in Hong Kong for the last 2 years is beyond appalling.

      Sure, one is free to support the authoritarianism and totalitarianism CCP is imposing in Hong Kong and other...

      1 report and you make Marco Polo green. 10 to make silver, 25 for gold and 50 for diamond.

      3x points for each successful conviction from your reports. /s

      Seriously, for those who claim to be “woke”, how they refuse to acknowledge the atrocities going on in Hong Kong for the last 2 years is beyond appalling.

      Sure, one is free to support the authoritarianism and totalitarianism CCP is imposing in Hong Kong and other parts of China. One doesn’t have to support liberty and democracy. But one can’t be rooting for totalitarianism / authoritarianism and be woke at the same time. Someone who is that bipolar needs to be locked up in a mental institute. Medication is not enough.

  17. Tom

    We like Cathay Pacific airlines and would live to visit Hong Kong as a vaccinated tourist, but the government has blocked us from visiting. Are they trying to starve out Hong Kong from tourism?

  18. Adam L

    Hong Kong is dead. The CCP killed it. Very sad.

    1. Freedomlover

      America is dead. The GOP killed it. Very sad.

    2. LetsUnited

      America is dead. The GOP killed it. Very sad.
      Hong Kong is dead. Also because of the GOP killed it. Very sad.

  19. Eskimo

    New branding isn't here to simplify.
    It's an excuse to devalue.

    I don't need my miles to redeem overpriced golf balls or fancy restaurant meals when I can use my (discontinued?) Citi Prestige for x5 earning.
    I still need my miles so I can enjoy Krug and caviar over the Pacific.

    Airline rewards will become so bad, it's a 0.1% cash back program every airline.
    Until one brave airline says we will...

    New branding isn't here to simplify.
    It's an excuse to devalue.

    I don't need my miles to redeem overpriced golf balls or fancy restaurant meals when I can use my (discontinued?) Citi Prestige for x5 earning.
    I still need my miles so I can enjoy Krug and caviar over the Pacific.

    Airline rewards will become so bad, it's a 0.1% cash back program every airline.
    Until one brave airline says we will give better value reward by giving out what cost them marginally but worth to flyers more than 0.1% , an empty seat which the cost is fixed based on geographical area for simplicity.
    And civilization has reached full circle.

Featured Comments Load all 24 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Freedomlover

America is dead. The GOP killed it. Very sad.

DeePee

Been to HKG 100+ times (quarterly since the handover). My ex-pat and local pals there have been trapped for over a year even though cases are near zero. The goal of the lockdown is clear. The CCP is going to use it as an excuse to limit freedom of movement. I've got a friend who is married to a Cathay pilot. She says the morale of the corps is extremely low due to the lack of work, the grueling flight schedules and quarantine rules, and the transfer from leisure to cargo flights. HKG will have no choice but to reopen soon or their economy will collapse. And that may be the CCP's strategy... A dependent HKG is a compliant HKG...

Adam L

Hong Kong is dead. The CCP killed it. Very sad.

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