Lessons in Loyalty Currency, What to Expect from Loyalty Americas

Sep 12, 2012

Cash. Credit. Debit. Loyalty card. Check… reminds me of the famous Dorothy quote, “Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!” At a young age, children start to learn the basics of commerce and somewhere around a child’s first viewing of The Wizard of Oz, he/she begins to learn the basics of “acquiring.”(In the case of my children, if feels like it kicked-in on the ride home from the hospital after they were born).  And through shopping and retail experience, children quickly become familiar with an assortment of payment methods – and now loyalty programs. For example, in June 2012 Centennial Bank partnered with the parents, teachers and children of Key West’s Sugarloaf Elementary School to develop a very real world loyalty program, complete with magnetic strip plastic cards.

Teachers were responsible for loading points onto cards via virtual terminals while through their guidance, it was the students’ jobs to manage their points, control their spending habits, monitor their rewards in real-time, and hone their goal-setting skills, saving their points for larger purchases. For Centennial Bank’s part, their goal was two-fold: help educate children about loyalty programs and how to use them effectively as well as cementing community relationships and positive experiences.

So if this is what the average fifth-grader is already learning it’s important that currency flexibility, loyalty program ubiquity and exploring customer preferences are something that all industry verticals adopt – and adopt fast. Because today’s 5th grader will become tomorrow’s shopper, traveler and likely loyalty program member.

The Centennial story caught my attention as I was preparing for my own participation in the upcoming Loyalty Americas conference, taking place in Chicago on September 18-19, 2012.

Considering that there are 51 airline loyalty programs in the Americas today and that each of these programs has an extensive network of hotels, retailers, car rental companies and other loyalty partners, it goes without saying that loyalty program experimentation, new technology developments, rewards optimization and omnichannel engagement   is critical. And each of these airlines is also struggling to differentiate their loyalty offerings from the rest, in order to drive revenues and grow brand recognition.

And that differentiation is what I’ll be addressing at the Loyalty Americas conference in my session called Choosing the right currency for your program, as well as:

  • Revenue vs. point programs – and flyers growing desire to be able to convert their points into cash for additional purchasing freedom
  • Exploring customer preferences – and what they exactly they seek in the 35,000 ft. loyalty program and how they choose to interact with it
  • Outlining strategies to communicate currency changes
  • Complications of partnerships and codeshares on pricing and redemption

The bottom line is that the better we as loyalty providers answer these questions, not only for airlines, but all verticals, the better we will be at delivering the omnichannel experience we so often speak about. Connecting with consumers at the earliest stages of engagement and through multiple channels simultaneously based on the preferences they set is critical, yes, but we should be equally vertical agnostic as well.

As evidenced by our school children, loyalty programs clearly know no limits and the Loyalty Americas’ conference couldn’t have come at a better time to discuss the future of how we value our loyalty currency and programs


Read more Financial Services insights from Kobie here.