Subscription-based private airline Surf Air is launching a new blockchain-powered loyalty programme designed especially for small businesses.
Surf Air offers unlimited flights for a monthly subscription fee, allowing travellers to fly in executive aircraft seating up to eight passengers. It gives frequent fliers access to private airplanes and terminals on scheduled flights.
Its programme, Voy, which will be available to travel companies of all sizes including hotels, restaurants, car rentals and airport lounges, has received the backing of a number of industry figures and will launch in the summer of this year, both as a payment method and a rewards program.
Silicon Valley tech veteran Richard Jordan and the former head of British Airways for the Americas, Simon Talling-Smith, are leading the group, while Fred Reid, the former CEO of Virgin America and president of Delta and Lufthansa, and Gerald Lawless, the former CEO of the Jumeirah Group, wil act as travel advisors.
In its simplest form, Blockchain is a ledger that multiple parties can see at the same time. The transactions are shared equally between all participants and new information can only be added if the other parties agree, and then cannot be changed. Unlike traditional ledgers, Blockchain is decentralised, and therefore avoids the inflexibility and inefficiency of older, centralised systems.
Using Blockchain, Voy will be able to eliminate a number of issues that prevent smaller businesses from taking up a traditional loyalty programme, including the need to spend months negotiating conditions of entry.
The cryptocurrency-based rewards program will be free of inefficiencies such as illiquid balance sheet liabilities and a consistent market price when exchanging points between partners. It will also have better resources to deal with when customers find it hard to redeem their points within a limited number of outlets.
Data and travel identities will also be protected and only released with consumers’ consent.
In addition to private travel, Surf Air memberships at higher tiers can include travel services from a wide range of partners, including Blade and JetClass to a Surf Air-preferred Hotel partner such as the Dorchester collection and the Waldorf Astoria.
Voy president Richard Jordan said: “While blockchain is best known as the technology behind bitcoin, it is simply a mechanism for creating an immutable, decentralized ledger of transactions, shared across a network of participants. This removes the need for explicit trust-based relationships between all parties in the loyalty ecosystem and allows even small companies to have programmes that scale tremendously. The blockchain lets Voy empower businesses to break out of the old loyalty program mould, of narrowly defined one-size-fits-all programmes and limited redemption options.”