In an attempt to woo well-heeled travellers, and certainly keep them away from the newly-competitive Virgin Australia, Qantas is launching a $99-per year wine and food club as an add-on to its existing Frequent Flyer program.
Upon joining, members will receive a "welcome gift" from Qantas worth $130 (seems a fairly safe bet that it will be quaffable), and access to the epiQure website. The membership is also available for 13,000 points. Qantas promises the community will allow members to "discover the Qantas cellar’s diverse collection of wine, dine with globally renowned chefs and be part of a community with a shared appreciation of the finer things in life."Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Neil Perry will host the first epiQure showcase event at Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney and Melbourne in July.
Members will earn three points per dollar on purchases of wine and event tickets, and 2,000 bonus points after members buy their first case of wine through Qantas. Delivery of wine is also free to the end of 2012.
There's also the ability to earn four points per dollar at 250 Qantas Frequent Flyer partner restaurants.
Qantas says the epiQure website (which is currently password protected) is designed to "form the centre of a passionate community bringing together wine and food lovers, winemakers, producers, chefs, and industry experts to share knowledge and experiences.""Members will get the first serve of up-and-coming chefs at the top of their game, get the inside scoop on new restaurants and have access to celebrity recipes."
If any other organisation were attempting a paywalled community website, they'd face an uphill battle in getting a critical mass of people enlisted and interacting with each other, but Qantas does already have a memberbase of 7.8 million travellers to mine. Qantas says it has recently launched a “Sommeliers in the Sky” training program for staff to educate cabin crew and lounge staff about the wines they serve.