Lessons for loyalty – the power of choice and collaboration

John McCauley, Senior Marketing Manager, Travel
22 June 2017
By John McCauley, Senior Marketing Manager, Travel

I recently read an article sharing alternate views of leading digital brands such as Amazon and Airbnb; on one side of the coin, they're described as "The high-street and hotel industry destroyers" and on the other, and significantly more favourably; "The brands who dared to improve and change the status quo".

The latter resonates much more with me and I personally always favour brands who have dared to do something different. In particular, brands who have made existing products and solutions more relevant, engaging and valuable to customers, packaged up with digital technology at the core.

We recently presented at the Loyalty @ Freddies conference with our partners, Points speaking on, 'One integration for more everyday member engagement'. Lars Holmquist, Senior VP Americas at Collinson and Points' Jamie Anderson led a fascinating discussion on how loyalty programmes can address what we call the "Everyday Conundrum". In a nutshell, how programme providers deliver more "everyday member engagement" and as a result, more value to both their members and their own bottom line.

The presentation struck a chord with me and fellow audience members, with one major hotel brand in the audience noting "if only more loyalty suppliers could follow a similar collaborative approach".

A more collaborative way forward

I did a quick and un-scientific straw poll in the office this week and the top two reasons for favouring brands such as Airbnb were "Good value" and "Ease of use".

Whilst I'm sure these statements also ring true for the millions of Airbnb users across the globe, I have another two reasons to throw into the mix - collaboration and choice.

The way that Airbnb connect millions of partners and suppliers into an exciting hotel ecosystem, bringing huge choice and value for their consumers, is a really wonderful thing. They are literally making entrepreneurs out of home owners and enabling holiday makers to explore the world more. To view this another way, without the collaboration of millions of properties across the globe - all aligning and working to Airbnb's commercial models, policies and platforms - Airbnb.com becomes a very redundant site!

Choice and collaboration are also key to our loyalty commerce approach from both an earn and redemption perspective. Through our loyalty commerce ecosystem with Points, we bring together best of breed retail and merchant partners to help power our clients loyalty programmes - delivering all the good stuff members like to engage and transact with. Our new eStore with All Nippon Airways (ANA) allows members to book, earn, hire and redeem, all in one place, and is testament to this being a winning approach. Our recent in-store applications, with the likes of Virgin Atlantic, where members simply need to link their existing payment cards in their wallet to their loyalty account to take advantage of the offers made available to them, also showcases our desire to keep things moving forward. A quality that ensures there's always a threat to the perceived status quo of any given industry!

As Lars surmised, building successful partnerships is often a lot of hard work, as well as a lot of fun. From differences in culture and communication through to alternative views and goals - creating partnerships that align and run efficiently is not something that just happens overnight.

However, the acceptance of this challenge is an important step in itself, and the hurdles to success should be embraced. The learning potential on the route to success is vast, so if these insights can be grasped and your partnerships can successfully evolve - you may well be the next billionaire digital start-up yourself!

If you'd like to find out more about our loyalty commerce ecosystem, take a look at a recent presentation by our Head of Loyalty Commerce, James Berry or contact us.

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About the author

John McCauley is Senior Marketing Manager, Travel, at Collinson. He has over 10 years' experience working in both B2B & B2C marketing roles for companies such as Tefal, LEWIS PR and 3 Monkeys Communications and has built integrated communication campaigns for leading brands such as Hotels.com and Autoglass.