InterMiles Takes Rewards Program to New Heights with Microservices-Powered Mobile App on AWS


From Frequent Flyer to Lifestyle Rewards

The history of airline frequent flyer programs dates back about 40 years, and today there are more than 70 frequent flyer programs worldwide. However, as redemption rules evolve, many consumers have come to appreciate the value of lifestyle rewards programs that offer points/miles for travel as well as non-travel-related spending.

One such program is InterMiles, offering members miles for travel, dining, shopping, and daily expenses such as gasoline purchases in India. In 2014, Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd. was established as a joint venture between Etihad Airways and Jet Airways to manage the frequent flyer program, JetPrivilege. However, in November 2019, the JetPrivilege program was rebranded to InterMiles. InterMiles now has more than 10 million members and is continually adding new ways for members to earn and redeem miles across travel, hospitality, payments, and lifestyle categories.

As part of its rebrand, the business chose to redesign its technology backend on Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the AWS Cloud, InterMiles has halved its time-to-market, improved engagement, and reduced operational costs for its customer-facing assets and databases. It has also built a data lake that it is currently optimizing to drive innovation.

A woman holding her mobile phone while traveling

We started looking at AWS for performance and stability, in addition to reduced operations overhead as we innovate.”

Ketan Phanse
VP & Head–Information & Digital Technology, InterMiles (Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd.)

Fast Time-to-Market with a Microservices Architecture

After running its frequent flyer program platform on premises for 4 years, the business looked to the AWS Cloud to bring the new InterMiles program to market as quickly as possible. The company completely redesigned its architecture on AWS, opting for a microservices approach with containers orchestrated using Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS).

“We wanted to go cloud-first to deliver many use cases rapidly with the new brand,” says Ketan Phanse, VP & head—Information & Digital Technology at InterMiles (Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd.). “That’s when we started looking at AWS for performance and stability, in addition to reduced operations overhead as we innovate.”

The InterMiles team has achieved 30 percent faster time-to-market on AWS. This enables the business to introduce new features and use cases for the program’s mobile app and website in less than 2 weeks. In its first year, the InterMiles team successfully launched multiple customer use cases across flights, hotels, and dining, as well as increase engagement by leveraging a new microservices-powered mobile app on AWS. Adding an ecommerce element empowered in-app and web purchases from more than 150 InterMiles partners, with Amazon ElastiCache for Redis improving response times on the app.

Increased Engagement with Enhanced Mobile App

When the airline industry faced disruption in 2020, InterMiles had to quickly pivot away from incentivizing travel. The app was enhanced with gamification, as many users had more time on their hands during lockdown. Members could earn miles for ordering in rather than dining out, and after the lockdown in India was lifted, users were rewarded for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active by receiving miles based on the number of steps they took.

“Overall, our ability to launch new use cases in an agile fashion drove very high engagement on our mobile app, despite the challenging times,” Phanse says. InterMiles has seen a 20 percent increase in customer engagement on the app since its launch.

Reducing Resource Waste for Databases and DR

InterMiles has also achieved efficiencies by consolidating databases and hosting its disaster recovery (DR) on AWS. Since the start of its AWS Cloud journey, InterMiles has been using Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as the core of its data-driven infrastructure, benefitting from cost-effective scalability and the ability to offload time-consuming maintenance tasks.

More recently, the company migrated its main analytics database from Oracle on-premises hosting to Amazon Aurora. It also converted a 10 TB Oracle database used for DR, and hosted on premises in a secondary data center, to Oracle on AWS. By moving its DR to the AWS Cloud, InterMiles could shut down its secondary data center completely, significantly reducing resource waste. The combined effect of both migrations resulted in a 50 percent saving in database costs.

Building a Data Lake to Merge Online and Offline Data

Like most loyalty programs, data is at the core of InterMiles’s operation, with the long-term goal of driving personalization of its loyalty platform. Prior to 2020, the company had an unstructured approach to data collection, using a plethora of offline and online tools. But in 2020, the development team began building a data lake on AWS using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for data ingestion, AWS Glue for data integration, and Amazon EMR for extended data transformations.

“We wanted to create a data lake on AWS because there are so many out-of-the-box services available to streamline the build, and we knew scalability wouldn’t be a challenge,” Phanse says. InterMiles is currently working with AWS to optimize its analytics pipeline, but the development team has already established a robust foundation in the AWS Cloud to merge online and offline data. The first projects planned include new fraud-detection mechanisms and internal business use cases, such as identifying the lifetime value of InterMiles members.

“AWS helps us to rapidly deploy, deliver, and test new use cases that would have taken much longer due to infrastructure availability or CAPEX constraints. It takes the technical distractions away so we can continue building value-added services for our customers,” concludes Phanse.

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About InterMiles

InterMiles is a loyalty rewards program with more than 10 million members, run by Jet Privilege Private Ltd. Members earn miles via the app or website across 150 partners, and can redeem the accumulated miles for rewards of their choice.

Benefits of AWS

  • Decreases time-to-market by 30% with microservices architecture
  • Increases user engagement on mobile app by 20%
  • Reduces overall operations costs by 25–30%
  • Cuts database and DR costs by 50%
  • Scales data lake for 10 million-plus program members
  • Increases availability for app and website by 10%
  • Releases new features and use cases in an agile fashion

AWS Services Used

Amazon Glue

AWS Glue is a serverless data integration service that makes it easy to discover, prepare, and combine data for analytics, machine learning, and application development.

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Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

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Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon Elastic Container Service

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service that helps you easily deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.

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