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.
At Connexions, Heather focuses on dreaming up new rewards content and securing rewards providers, so she knows a thing or two about what customers are looking for. Here are her top five tips on how to leverage your rewards content:
- Customer desires shift with the seasons, your rewards program should follow suit.
Travel is a seasonal business. While other consumer industries, like retail, experience an increase in sales during the holidays, peak travel season typically begins after the New Year. Connexions’ 2016 Travel Rewards Index shows that over half (54.6%) of all traveling occurs between March and the middle of August. Travel booking, on the other hand, spikes in January, March, June and July. Those months account for 35.5% of travel bookings. With this in mind, aim to add specific travel rewards during the time frame when members are most likely to cash in. If your rewards program is travel-focused, consider adding special offers or experiences at popular spring break destinations.
- Refresh content frequently, and let your members know when you do.
Consumers are constantly on the lookout for travel deals. There are blogs and social media accounts dedicated to alerting people to mistake fares (when airlines list ticket prices at way below their normal cost due to a glitch in the system), travel sales and tips on how to game rewards redemption. Keeping your travel rewards program relevant also means being able to keep up with how consumers shop for travel. Try setting up alerts for your members – either via email or social – when new content is added. This is especially helpful considering travel rewards content is subject to availability and almost always a limited time deal.
- Even better, help them plan.
While alerting your member base to new travel rewards is great, you could take it a step further and offer tools to help them plan their trip. Whether it’s a travel concierge, or a robust travel redemption site that offers multiple filters to allow the customer to create relevant sets of options, this focus on user experience will get the right content to your customer while providing additional opportunity to delight.
- Think about your customers.
Think about your customers when putting together a travel rewards package. Look at demographic and psychographic information about them: Would your customers prefer a family-friendly trip or to jet off to a romantic getaway for two? If the answer is both, segment your rewards marketing efforts to different target audiences. Understanding your rewards members’ preferences will help you include the rewards that are the best fit for them. Put the option in their hands to tell you their preferences and fulfill that promise by listening and offering travel rewards that are relevant to them.
- Think about travel rewards as a way to reinforce and even elevate brand image.
Lastly, your rewards content is a reflection on your organization and the shared values you have with your customers. Select content that reflects your culture. For example, if you’re an outdoor, adventure brand, your loyal customers would probably appreciate travel experience options that speak to that lifestyle—think skydiving or hot-air balloon rides. If your brand and customer base tends toward the more affluent, exclusive experiences like VIP tickets and private events or tours will reinforce your messaging. Travel rewards programs do the most for brand image – and customer loyalty – when they’re aligned with brand ideals and aspirations.
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