irgin Australia looks set to launch its points-earning alliance with 7-Eleven following interim authorisation for the partnership being granted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC’s temporary seal of approval will allow the Virgin / 7-Eleven project to move ahead, with Velocity Frequent Flyers able to earn Velocity points at 7-Eleven outlets before the ACCC hands down its final decision, which is expected in July 2021.

As earlier reported by Executive Traveller, it’s understood those earn rates will be set at 2 Velocity Points per litre of ‘premium’ Supreme 98+ and Extra 95 fuel, and 1 Velocity Point per lite for all other ‘regular’ fuel blends.

There’ll also be the opportunity to earn 2 Velocity Points per dollar spent in-store on most products excepting tobacco, SIM cards, gift cards and prepaid transport cards such as Opal and Myki.

In giving a green light to the points-for-petrol proposal, the ACCC said it would likely enable both Virgin Australia and 7-Eleven “to provide more attractive offerings in airline and fuel markets in Australia, resulting in benefits from increased competition.”

The ACCC also noted that many of their competitors – including Qantas, Flybuys, BP, Shell Coles Express and Woolworths Ampol outlets – “are already participating in similar arrangements.”

The interim thumbs-up “will result in an immediate and direct benefit to consumers through the earning of Velocity Points,” the ACCC said, adding that the ruling would clear the way for “pre-launch activities including IT integration, marketing, promotional activities and a pilot program.”

In keeping with Virgin’s new mid-market value position, 7-Eleven will make a suitably mainstream points partner; the move will also help Virgin level up to arch-rival Qantas and its high-profile hookup with BP.

Executive Traveller understands the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is poised to hand down an interim authorisation ruling which, if favourable, would let both parties kick-start what their proposal described as “pre-launch activities including IT integration, marketing, and promotional activities.”

This would be followed by a ‘go-live date’ from which Velocity membership numbers could be entered into an updated 7-Eleven app, and the actual launch date for earning points by swiping their physical Velocity card or “scanning a virtual digital card” at 7-Eleven stores.

Interestingly, the ACCC submission also suggested that a handful of 7-Eleven outlets could participate in a 21-day “pilot program” during this pre-launch phase with “the purpose of ensuring the applicants’ IT systems and processes are aligned and ready for the full launch of the partnership.”

Executive Traveller understands that the earn rates will be set at 2 Velocity Points per litre of ‘premium’ Supreme 98+ and Extra 95 fuel, and 1 Velocity Point per lite for all other ‘regular’ fuel blends.

There’ll also be the opportunity to earn 2 Velocity Points per dollar spent in-store on most products excepting tobacco, SIM cards, gift cards and prepaid transport cards such as Opal and Myki.

Under the partnership’s direct earn model, Velocity Points should land in the member’s account within 24 hours of any eligible purchase.

According to documents filed with the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which must approve the alliance, 7-Eleven could also become a redemption partner for Velocity, in case you want to swap your points for a Slurpee.

Although the ACCC is now in a ‘public consultation’ phase over the airline’s hoped-for hookup, Executive Traveller understands the partnership took shape under the reign of former Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah after former fuel ally BP switched to Qantas in early 2020.

Filling the BP gap

At the time, Scurrah described BP’s decision to dump Virgin for Qantas as “disappointing but not a major setback” and said “we’re talking to a number of partners that will plug that gap for us.”

“We have almost 10 million very loyal customers who are keen for us to have a fuel earn-and-burn partner,” he noted in late 2019.

Indeed, Executive Traveller understands that at one stage the Velocity 7-Eleven alliance was targetting a suitably on-brand launch date of November 7 (aka 7/11) 2020.

None the less, it’s now back on the agenda for the rebooted airline, with new owners Bain Capital keen to muscle up the Velocity loyalty scheme to become a strong and steady revenue channel.

Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka sees the proposed loyalty partnership as a clean win for the airline’s 10-million Velocity members, saying she was “excited by the potential to partner with a brand like 7-Eleven as we continue our journey to write a new chapter for Virgin Australia and Velocity Frequent Flyer.”

For his part, 7-Eleven CEO and Managing Director Angus McKay sees “a great brand and cultural fit… of two iconic brands in Australia.

Direct earn for Velocity points

According to the ACCC application filed by commercial law firm King & Wood Mallesons, the alliance would encompass “any 7-Eleven store, whether franchised or corporate-owned… (to) ensure that the Velocity Programme is offered across all stores in 7-Eleven’s network.”

This network is noted as comprising over 700 “retail fuel and convenience stores”, with 7-Eleven being “the largest independent fuel retail chain in Australia” – although its fuel footprint is one-third that of BP – and becoming a “cornerstone partner” for Velocity.

Velocity points would be earned on petrol – with different rates for regular and premium – and, where available, EV charging services, along with most convenience store products and car washes.

Members would swipe their Velocity card at the point of purchase or link their Velocity memberships to the My 7-Eleven App and scan “a virtual digital card”, with a direct earn of Velocity points similar to the Qantas/BP model.

The ACCC is expected to make an early call on “interim authorisation” by May and a final ruling due in July, with the partnership running for five years.

Extracted in full from: https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/accc-approves-virgin-australia-7-eleven-points-for-petrol-deal