What if a specific type of reward could create the ultimate travel experience, one that’s exciting, memorable, something your customers have never experienced before? Would you consider it a nice-to-have or need-to-have?
Activity-based rewards do just that, providing those extras that can turn trips from good to great. While some brands are incorporating activity-based rewards into their loyalty content mix, they too often go overlooked. But considering the value they offer customers (and brands), here’s why they shouldn’t be.
The value of activity-based rewards
Activity-based rewards range from tickets and passes to excursions and multi-day trips. Though less sexy than their adventurous counterparts, activities also can be necessities, like ground transportation and transfers (think shared vans, shuttles or private cars). These rewards provide a lower entry-level redemption option for members and are an efficient way for brands to encourage point spend.
Activities are more customizable than choosing an airline or hotel and can provide the ultimate vacation experience to your most loyal customers.
Take activities off the back-burner
After booking flights and multi-night hotel stays, typically about a month before their trip, travelers start thinking about things to do. Consider this particular traveler’s experience as a Chase Ultimate Rewards Member. She and her husband booked a trip to Athens, Greece. As they researched things to do, she was excited to browse Chase’s activities to find various multi-day trips – and at a discount.
The lesson is be there, front and center when your members start their search for activities. Offer excursions, experiences, even multi-day trips they can book using their points. Add value to their membership by providing helpful information, and the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tours and activities aren’t a simple add-on: they’re the crux of the entire travel experience. Take them off the back-burner and begin promoting them. They can add value to your program and brand only if your customers know about them.
Increase revenue by making activities part of the booking process
Encourage members to book activities each time they travel. What if all your members knew they could book activities with you? What if it became another step in their travel process? Flights – check. Hotel – check. Activities – check. This behavioral change isn’t going to happen without some nudging though. Try promoting activities outside of the standard booking flow via confirmation emails, or trip reminder and check-in emails. Context is key here for marketing to be effective--you should send targeted activity offers based on information you’ve collected on what other components of the trip your customer has already booked.
If every flight redemption included an activity add-on, that additional card or point spend could mean significant revenue increases. According to our 2016 Travel Analysis of customer redemption data, activities represent only 0.8% of all ancillary products. Overwhelmingly, the most popular product is air travel (76.4% of bookings). What if even half of those air travel bookings included an activity added on via point spend or card purchase? Imagine the revenue opportunity.
Educate your customers
Of that tiny 0.8% of the product mix that activities represent, the most popular rewards are tickets to attractions including Seaworld, Universal and Disney theme parks. Is that simply because that’s the only category that comes to mind when consumers think about activity-based rewards? Probably.
Go beyond that ‘Activities’ tab on your rewards portal and give activity-based rewards more of the travel limelight. Send suggestions based on destination. Have a couple booking a romantic trip to Paris? Offer discounted excursion tickets (maybe a day trip to see Versailles) or even restaurant reservations at a place with a great view of the Eiffel Tower that they can purchase with their rewards points (in fact, Connexions offers an activity that includes dining on the Eiffel Tower at 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant). Or offer double points back if they pay with your credit card. Communicate with them regularly about various activity redemption options, from tickets to transfers to multi-day trips.
Those tickets, like all activity-based rewards are more than just “nice to have.” They’ll probably be the best part of your members’ entire travel experience. Start treating them that way – you’ll have happy customers and greater profits.
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