Retailer Loyalty Programs and 360-Degree Travel Experiences
Brand relationships follow a simple law: the more you give, the more you get. That’s why consumers love loyalty programs – they get brand value beyond the price of the transaction, every time they spend. But many brands have been “giving” loyalty rewards and not seeing a return on investment. So what gives?
Traditional Loyalty versus the 360-Degree Experience
For one thing, loyalty rewards aren’t quite what they used to be. Today’s consumers don’t just want points or miles in a loyalty program, they want a fuller, 360-degree brand experience that meets otherneeds and provides othervalue (an ‘ecosystem’ of value). That’s one reason why travel rewards (such as frequent flyer miles, concierge services and lounge access) have always been a popular attraction for retailer loyalty programs, because travel is both a necessity and luxury and can positively impact consumers’ lives outside of the brand.
But many brands now offer travel rewards and benefits through their loyalty programs – it’s not a differentiator anymore, except for exceptional brands like American Express that charge a yearly membership fee and really go above and beyond to justify the membership price (with elite concierge services, for example). And thanks to online travel agencies and “sharing economy” sites like Airbnb and Vacasa, almost anyone can travel in style at affordable prices – which means retailers will need to add new value to traditional travel rewards to stay relevant.
Travel Clubs and the Future of Retailer Loyalty
With travel being so ubiquitous, the only way for non-travel brands to “up the wow factor” and differentiate their loyalty program’s travel offering – if they have one at all – is to create more of a 360-degree travel experience for their members. Don’t just make it more affordable to travel by subsidizing airline miles – as in traditional loyalty programs – but provide the private booking engine, too, with discounts, perks, access to elite benefits, and social tools for planning group trips.
This is the “travel club” concept – getting customers to subscribe to an online travel club that increases revenue for the sponsoring brand (through subscription fees) and, most importantly, provides real value for their customers who aspire to travel – which is virtually everyone.
Travel clubs have proven successful because they “work” for retailers and their customers. For retailers, branded travel clubs allow them to offer their loyal customers access to elite travel and lifestyle benefits, without having to manage the vendor relationships or even the club website – everything can be offered “as a service” online. For customers and loyalty program members, travel clubs are worthwhile because these consumers would travel anyway – and private travel clubs help them find deals, save money, and plan trips they never thought possible. By giving them the full view and full access to these services, brands create value that goes beyond the typical loyalty experience.
Through a branded travel club offering, Custom Travel Solutions can help your brand convert brand affinity into loyalty, and ultimately, brand equity. Visit www.customtravelsolutions.com to learn more and here’s another blog on travel clubs for frequent flyer programs.