Yesterday I received my new Marco Polo Diamond Membership package. Marco Polo is the frequent flyer program from Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific (CX) is maybe not as well known in the west but one of major premium airlines in the world. Cathay was awarded Skytrax‘s 2014 Airline of the Year and has won the “World’s Best Airline” award four times by now, more than any other airline.
Their frequent flyer program did relaunch completely in the middle of 2016. I will not go into the details of that, since it has been discussed thoroughly by many travelers. In case you’re missed it, here is a somewhat neutral summary. Personally I do not appreciate the changes as they mostly favor corporate flyers and people who do not spend their own money on tickets. Unfortunately that is the direction most airlines heading to these days.
Today I would like to address just one aspect of the relaunch and it’s changes: The re-styled new membership cards (among other design changes).
I always admired Cathay for their choice in restrained, non flashy designs. Distinguished and ‘non-show off’ reflected well my impressions of those. I have to say I liked their branding and corporate identity on the membership program as one of the best in the industry. The luggage tag is only a part it but I think a vital one. It is that one piece that shows your affiliation with an airline and so often the point where I ask myself if I am willing to put that on my bag.
I do currently hold a Silver, two gold and one Top Tier status from four airlines but my bag only has two tags on it. For one, it would look borderline tacky to me dangling around all of them (some might say this already with two). In the end it is the design of those tags, that puts the nail in the coffin. If you would see all four you might understand why only Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa are the ones chosen.
Lufthansa’s bright red leather covers for their Senator Card are maybe the one of the few designs that positively standing out in the industry, although to be fair, it is just the cover. Their card itself is as non appealing as most of the others. Back to Cathay and their Marco Polo program design change. Have a look for yourself.
The change from old to new was a huge difference. From subtle to ‘in your face’…. despite the matte black finish – at least that was my first impression. What do you think?
It seems to me, the old Diamond card was not screaming clearly enough ‘Top Tier’ or ‘special’. It could easily be confused for a silver card from the same program. Only the lighter color and the little sparkly letters ‘DIAMOND’ at the bottom (or side depends on how you hold it) made sure to announce properly the status of the holder. With the new card it should be fairly easy visible and identifiable. Probably that is what they were going for. At least that would be my assumption for the drastic style change.
That Cathay opted for the non-color ‘black’ of another well known Black Card is not surprising in the context of the Hong Kong environment where Cathay is originating from. That is just how they play over there – status still matters. That is another story for itself… and another time.
Let’s just hope Cathay can maintain the level of past years, despite the re-branding and frequent flyer changes (as well an many minor things I noticed over the last months).
If you know similar examples, that resemble this scenario or the drastic design change, please let me know.