Travel rewards programs use incentives to attract and engage customers. The top performing travel rewards programs take it a step further: turning loyal customers into brand advocates. We looked at the most successful travel rewards programs, those that garner both loyalty and advocacy, and found they all share some common characteristics.
Mobile devices enable users to be more connected than ever. As of 2015, two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone, a number that will undoubtedly grow in 2016. Consumers can connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. And they expect the same from brands and loyalty programs: they want to check their rewards points in line at the grocery store and chat with reps who can answer questions almost instantly.
Immediacy is no longer the goal; it’s the expectation. And loyalty programs that can offer real-time one-to-one communication will win.
Rewards fulfillment occurs from the time rewards members hit “redeem” to the time they receive their reward – a process that can make or break a customer’s experience with your brand.
In a recent interview, Connexions Loyalty rewards expert Heather Sorrentino shared some tips on creating a travel rewards marketing program that serves both brands and their customers. To further improve program performance, Heather emphasizes the importance of timely content that reflects your customers’ interests.
Consumer trends evolve and change, and so should rewards portfolios. Static loyalty programs that don’t account for changing consumer trends will have a hard time engaging current members and drawing in new ones (read: they’ll perform poorly). Successful rewards program managers not only study the KPI’s of their program data, but also look to retail trends and track changes in consumer purchase behaviors to stay relevant. It’s how to make sure that their program is offering the right rewards at the right time.
Gift card rewards are more popular than ever. Brands use gift cards, both plastic and electronic, to accomplish a variety of objectives: encourage consumer spending, reinforce brand values and reward loyal customers who appreciate the flexibility that gift cards provide.
Travel rewards encompass everything from airline tickets and hotel stays to cruises, activities (think rock-climbing or hot-air balloon rides) and other ancillary services like room or airline upgrades. Travel rewards aren’t solely for travel and hospitality brands like airlines and hotels, however. While many hotels have travel-themed rewards programs, these offerings are a good fit for most any rewards suite — from retail to banking.
In recent years Hannah White has become something of a loyalty fraud aficionado. In fact, over the course of a 45-minute interview for this story, she admits that she probably has enough material to talk about loyalty fraud for an entire day.
Loyalty fraud is a real and growing threat, and it’s only getting worse. Airlines, financial services firms and retailers are falling victim to cyber-thieves, who, in the face of highly secured financial systems, are moving on to points and miles programs that are typically more exposed and at greater risk.