Tag: digital download

Mermaids Go All Out for Train Concert!

Train is sharing the spotlight with Gavin DeGraw and The Script this summer on their “Mermaids of Alcatraz” tour. The chart-topping performers of “Hey, Soul Sister” and “Drops of Jupiter” are no stranger to sharing the stage, touring with Mat Kearney & Andy Grammar in 2012 and Maroon 5 & Gavin DeGraw in 2011.

Train performing at Verizon Wireless Ampitheater in Charlotte, NC on July 30, 2013.

The tour stopped in Charlotte, NC at Verizon Wireless Ampitheater on July 30th, greeting a crowd of new and longtime fans, with the most hardcore Train enthusiasts dressed as Mermaids!

Gavin DeGraw opened up the show for his second tour with Train, but first with them as the headliner. He thrilled the crowd, performing songs that made him popular like “I Don’t Wanna Be,” and newer releases like “Best I Ever Had.” He even covered Justin Timberlake’s smash hit of the summer, “Mirrors,” doing an excellent job taking the smooth R&B and matching it to his signature slow rock style. Here’s the full setlist from DeGraw’s portion of the show:

 

Dublin-based band The Script took the stage next, pumping up the crowd with their most popular songs like “Breakeven” and “Hall of Fame.” They also performed a beautiful rendition of “If You Could See Me Now,” a song Danny O’Donoghue wrote about the coping with the passing of his father1. Here is the full setlist from The Script’s portion of the show:

 

Headlining band Train took the stage next, opening with 2003 smash hit “Calling All Angels.” They performed songs from their new album “California 37” and their 2009 hit album “Save Me, Sanfrancisco,” as well as some covers, including “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles. One of the biggest hits of the night, however, came from the second encore song. Released 12 years ago, “Drops of Jupiter” continues to be a crowd favorite.

Fans were in for a big surprise when Ashley Monroe took the stage. Monroe is a country singer and Nashville native, touring with the band to perform their duet song “Bruises.” Another big surprise happened at the Charlotte show: when Pat Monahan, lead vocalist, walked through the crowd of cheering fans while singing sentimental wedding dance favorite “Marry Me,” he stopped at one particular fan and announced, “My man here has a big surprise.” The fan turned to his girlfriend and popped the question while Monahan continued his serenade. Don’t worry…she said yes!

Here is the full setlist from Train’s portion of the show:

 

If the Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour is coming to a venue near you, check it out! In the mean time, download your favorites from their setlists to get ready for the show.

Sources:

  1. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2183834/The-man-moved-tears-Danny-O-Donoghue-pours-heart-The-Script-s-tragic-losses-went-The-Voice-s-ex.html]

Book Review: “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan

As a huge fan of comedian Jim Gaffigan, I was really looking forward to the release of his first book, Dad is Fat. Gaffigan details the joys and perils of raising his five (yes, FIVE) children, or as he describes them: beautiful, pale creatures.

Gaffigan’s children at the time of book print range in age from infant to 8-years-old. The title for his book, Dad is Fat, originated from a sentence scrawled in messy, childish handwriting on a miniature whiteboard by one of his sons: “Dad is fat.” A keen observation from one of the pale creatures. Anyone who has had the distinct pleasure of listening to or watching Gaffigan’s standup routine is probably familiar with his affinity for Cinnabon, cake, pie, bacon, and food in general.

One of Gaffigan’s trademarks as a comedian is the ability to laugh at himself, breaking the fourth wall by using a higher-pitched voice to simulate an audience member’s thoughts. “He’s a pale fella!” Gaffigan opens his book using italicized text to emulate that tactic, increasing his likability by poking fun at himself. “He doesn’t even seem like he’s read a book before! Well, maybe a cookbook.”

The book goes on to detail the trials and triumphs of raising 5 small children in a 2-bedroom New York City apartment with his wife, Jeanie. While Gaffigan makes fun of his parenting ability – “He has virtually no training, skills or instincts on how to play this role,” he says of himself – the stories shared make it clear that Gaffigan is indeed an excellent father, and Jeanie is a phenomenal mother. Their children, Marre (8), Jack (6), Katie (3), Michael (1), and Patrick (newborn), keep mom and dad on their toes. As Gaffigan puts it, “failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent.”

If you’re interested in a funny, light read, I highly recommend Dad is Fat. Fans of Gaffigan’s standup will be interested to read backstories behind some of his popular bits, such as his explanation of why he and Jeanie chose home birth – “just to make you uncomfortable.” Readers new to Gaffigan’s work will likely catch the bug – check out his standup too! Follow Jim (@jimgaffigan) and Jeannie (@jeanniegaffigan) on Twitter. Follow us too (@thefirstclubcom) and let us know what you think of the book!

Download an eBook version of Dad is Fat from thefirstclub.com

Download standup albums Mr. Universe, King Baby, and Doin’ My Time from thefirstclub.com

7 Customer Loyalty Programs That Actually Add Value

by Kendal Peiguss.

According to Inc.it costs a business about 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one — and on average those current customers of yours spend 67% more than a new one. So, what are you doing to keep your customers coming back to your business? If you’re like 65% of marketers, your company has implemented a loyalty program. But is it working? According to the 2011 Colloquy Customer Loyalty Census, of the $48 billion worth of perceived value in reward points and miles distributed by American businesses annually, one-third goes unredeemed by consumers. Companies lose money on time and effort, and customers get no more value from the businesses to which they are “loyal.”

So how do you keep your business out of that one-third segment? How do you convey enough additional value in your programs to keep your customers coming back? It’s time for marketers to look beyond convoluted rewards systems and offer actual value to customers using their loyalty program. To get you started, here are some ideas for customer loyalty programs that might work for your business.

7 Customer Loyalty Program Ideas for Your Business

1) Use a Simple Points System

This is the most common loyalty program methodology. Frequent customers earn points, which translate into some type of reward. Whether it’s a discount, a freebie, or special customer treatment, customers work toward a certain amount of points to redeem their reward. Where many companies falter in this method, however, is making the relationship between points and tangible rewards complex and confusing. Fourteen points equals one dollar, and twenty dollars earns 50% off your next purchase in April! That’s not rewarding, that’s a headache. If you opt for a points-based loyalty program, keep the conversions simple and intuitive.

One example of a company using a points-based loyalty program well is Boloco. They speak the language of their audience by measuring points in dollars, and rewards in food items. Customers swipe their stylish Boloco card at every purchase and the card tracks the amount of money spent. Every $50 spent earns the customer a free item. Doesn’t matter if they choose a super jumbo burrito or an extra small smoothie – it’s free after $50. This is an example of a company simplifying points with an accessible customer reward system.

Although a points system is perhaps the most common form of loyalty programs, it isn’t applicable to all business types — this type of loyalty program is most appropriate for businesses that encourage frequent, short-term purchases.

2) Use a Tier System to Reward Initial Loyalty and Encourage More Purchases

Finding a balance between attainable and desirable rewards is a challenge for most companies designing loyalty programs. One way to combat this is to implement a tiered system. Offer small rewards as a base offering for being a part of the program, and encourage repeat customers by increasing the value of the rewards as the customer moves up the loyalty ladder. This helps solve the problem of members forgetting about their points and never redeeming them because the time between purchase and gratification is too long.

Virgin Airlines’ Flying Club inducts members at the Club Red tier, then bumps them up through Club Silver and Club Gold. Club Red members earn miles on flights and get discounts on rental cars and hotels. Club Silver members earn 50% more points on flights, expedited check-in, and priority stand-by seating. Club Gold members get double miles, priority boarding, and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can grab a drink or get a massage before their flight. The key is to offer benefits in the early stages to hook the customer into coming back. Once they do, they’ll realize that “gold” status isn’t unattainable, and offers really cool benefits.

The difference between points and tiered systems is that customers extract short-term versus long-term value from the loyalty program. You may find tiered programs work better for high commitment, higher price-point businesses like airlines, hospitality businesses, or insurance companies.

3) Charge an Upfront Fee for VIP Benefits

Loyalty programs are meant to break down barriers between customers and your business — are we seriously telling you to charge them a fee? In some circumstances, a one-time (or annual) fee that lets customers bypass common purchase blockers is actually quite beneficial for business and customer alike. By identifying the factors that may cause customers to leave, you can customize a fee-based loyalty program to address those specific barriers.

In 2011, eCommerce shopping cart abandonment hit a record high of 72%, and is still rising. This abandonment is often caused by “sticker shock” after tax and shipping prices have been applied. ECommerce giant Amazon found a way to combat this issue in their loyalty program called Prime. For $79 annually, Prime users get free 2-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase, among other benefits.

This program is innovative because it charges loyal customers while providing enough in return for those frequent shoppers to realize the benefits. Analysts estimate that Amazon actually loses about $11 annually for each Prime subscriber, but makes up for it in increased transaction frequency that would not have otherwise happened without their exclusive benefits.

Clearly this system is most applicable to businesses that thrive on frequent, repeat purchases. For an upfront fee, your customers are relieved of inconveniences that could impede future purchases. Amazon has mastered this for eCommerce, but this loyalty program model also has potential to work for B2B businesses who deliver products to businesses on a regular basis.

4) Structure Non-Monetary Programs Around Your Customer’s Values

Really understanding your customer means understanding their values and sense of worth. And depending on your industry, your customers may find more value in non-monetary or discounted rewards. Every company can offer promotional coupons and discount codes, but businesses that can provide value to the customer in ways other than dollars and cents have an opportunity to really connect with their audience.

Patagonia, an eco-friendly outdoor apparel company, realized that their customer needed more than just points and discounts from a loyalty program. Late last year, the company implemented its Common Threads Initiative. In it, they partnered with eBay to help customers to resell their highly-durable Patagonia clothing online through the company website.

This program builds on their brand of sustainability and creating a high-quality product, and it matches perfectly with the company’s customer persona by providing a value that they really care about. So before implementing a loyalty program of this nature, be sure you’ve researched and designed an in-depth customer persona!

5) Partner With Another Company to Provide All-Inclusive Offers

Strategic partnerships for customer loyalty, also known as coalition programs, can be extremely effective for customer retention and company growth. Again, fully understanding your customers every-day lives and their purchase process will help determine which company is a good fit as a partner.

American Express has a huge partner base with companies across the country. Their recentTwitter Sync campaign rewards customers for tweeting about them by syncing discounts and deals with Twitter #hashtags. According to Visibli.com, cardholders have redeemed over $2,000,000 in rewards. Participating companies that are benefitting from their coalition with Amex include Whole Foods, Staples, and Zappos.

For example, if you’re a dog food company, partner with a veterinary office or pet grooming facility to offer co-branded deals for mutual benefits for your company and your customer. The target audience obviously owns a dog, so any services that dog will require offer added value from your company. Providing customers with value beyond even what your company can offer will show that you understand them, and grows your network to reach your partners’ customers, as well.

6) Make a Game Out of It

Who doesn’t love a good game, right? Turning your loyalty program into a game is a fun way to encourage repeat customers and, depending on the type of game you choose, help solidify your brand’s image.

GrubHub, an online food ordering and delivery website, started Yummy Rummy late last year. Once customers place three unique orders through GrubHub, regardless of price, they get to play a game for a chance of winning free stuff. Players choose one of four cards and have a 25% chance of winning a free dessert, drink, gift card or other cool stuff.

It’s important that customers understand you’re not duping them out of rewards, though. The odds should be no lower than 25% and the purchase requirements to play should be attainable. This type of loyalty program has potential to backfire if customers feel like your company’s jerking them around to win business. Executed properly, however, this type of program could work for almost any type of company, even an off-the-beaten-path B2B company. If your audience enjoys having a little fun and purchases frequently, this type of program can make the buying process fun and engaging.

7) Scratch the ‘Program’ Completely

Considering how many marketers are offering loyalty programs (whether they are effective or not is another story), one innovative idea is to nix the idea all-together. Build loyalty by providing first-time users awesome benefits, hooking them, and offering those benefits with every purchase.

The concept sounds simple, but one of the most innovative companies on the planet implements this strategy: Apple. Even the most loyal Apple customers don’t get special rewards or discounts … because they don’t offer them to anybody. Apple “enchants” customers by delighting them with a product or service the first time. The loyalty is voluntary and long-lasting, according to Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki. Apple has plenty of supporters, both online and off, ready and willing to rave about their product. For them, loyalty happen organically.

This minimalist approach works best for companies whose products or services are unlike any other. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you offer the lowest price, or the best quality, or most convenience — I’m talking about redefining a category. If, like Apple, your company is pioneering a new product or service, a loyalty program may not be necessary. Customers will be loyal because there are few other options as spectacular as you, and you have communicated that value from your first interaction.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Loyalty Program

As with any initiative you implement, there needs to be a way to measure your marketing success. Customer loyalty programs should increase customer happiness and retention; and there are ways to measure these things besides in rainbows and sunshine. A lot of ways, actually. Different companies and programs call for different analytics, but here are a few of the most common metrics companies watch when rolling out loyalty programs.

Customer Retention Rate: This metric is an indication of how long customers stay with you. With a successful loyalty program, this number should increase over time as the number of loyalty program members grows. Run an A/B test against program members and non-program customers to determine the overall effectiveness of the loyalty initiative. According to Fred Reichheld, author of the Loyalty Effecta 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-100% increase in profit for your company.

Negative Churn: Churn is the rate at which customers leave your company; negative churn, therefore, is a measurement of customers who do the opposite — upgrade, or purchase additional services. These help to offset the natural churn that goes on in most businesses. Depending on the nature of your business and loyalty program, especially if you opt for a tiered loyalty program, this is an important metric to track.

Net Promoter Score: NPS is a customer satisfaction metric that measures, on a scale of 1-10, the degree to which people would recommend your company to others.

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (customers who would not recommend your product) from percentage of promoters (customers who would recommend you). The fewer detractors, the better. Improving your net promoter score is one way to establish benchmarks, measure customer loyalty over time, and calculate the effects of your loyalty program. A great NPS score is over 70% — your loyalty program can help get you there!

Customer Effort Score: CES asks customers, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to solve a problem with the company?” Some companies are vying for this metric over NPS because it measures actual experience rather than the emotional delight of the customer. A Harvard Business Review study found that 48% of customers who had negative experiences with a company told 10 or more people. In this way, customer service impacts both customer acquisition and customer retention. If your loyalty program addresses customer service issues, like expedited requests, personal contacts, or free shipping, this may be one way to measure its success.

Low-level redemption is certainly a great way to retain your initial customers! Learn more about how we can help with that by implementing our fully customizable digital rewards platform into your loyalty program.

What do you think? Does your loyalty program utilize any of these strategies? Leave us a comment below!

Original document from Hubspot.

Priority Club Rewards adds Digital Rewards

InterContinental Hotels Group is to offer its 65 million Priority Club Rewards members a new way to redeem Priority Club points: Digital Rewards. From the first club™, a global provider of instant digital rewards, Digital Rewards is designed to provide members with the latest in downloadable content including music, games, and software. According to a Mintel survey, members are motivated by loyalty programmes that provide instant and easy ways to redeem.

The Digital Rewards offers have been integrated with Priority Club’s existing point redemption choices. Examples of the new offers include well known songs from popular artists across genres including pop, country, alternative rock, R&B, and oldies, starting at 300 points. Popular games such as sports, action/adventure and puzzles are available from 800 points. Software for members’ home offices, foreign language education and multimedia tools are also available, starting at some 1,100 points.

Original Document from The Wise Marketer.

Building loyalty in the mobile era

by ICLP Loyalty

The world is arguably undergoing one of the greatest media transformations in history. While the internet has been an evolutionary and revolutionary step, thanks largely to Apple, the mobile device has turned into a personal computer in the consumer’s pocket – and one which is always available and always turned on – offering marketers a whole new gateway to new and stronger customer relationships, according to Garret Ippolito of MasterCard.

We live a mobile lifestyle. This lifestyle has been fueled by the near ubiquitous penetration of messaging devices. You can’t escape it. Video screens are talking to you in the elevator, when pumping petrol or riding in a city taxi. How we consume media has fundamentally changed. Marketers have been treading slowly into the mobile pool. But we are at a point where it is critical to engage customers via the mobile device, creating whole new ways to experience your loyalty programme and enhance its value.

The number of global mobile subscribers is now at least double the number of global internet users and, as mobile internet usage penetration increases, these figures are starting to converge. In Western Europe and North America, the market has already hit a 3G penetration inflection point (3G being the technology backbone upon which smart phones operate). As such, the mobile era has truly arrived. The key question, then, becomes whether or not marketers can risk others solidifying customer relationships, or should they do it themselves?

World demographics are also rapidly changing. In East Asia, up to 60% of some country’s populations are under the age of 30. In the US, the second fastest growing age segment is under 35. Much of the online usage changes we are witnessing are being driven by the younger generation (for example, Twitter, Hulu, Shop Savvy, and FourSquare). This demographic is also the most mobile savvy. On Facebook alone, there are more than 65 million active mobile users (incredibly, 1 million users commented on their friends’ status changes via mobile handsets within the first 24 hours of this feature’s launch). This is a testament to the power of the mobile channel. But no one in the loyalty arena has yet locked in their relationship with this up-and-coming, mobile-savvy demographic. This is clearly an opportunity for loyalty practitioners.

So, in venturing into the mobile realm, it is critical not to have your mobile strategy dictated by the technology itself. Many mobile strategies go astray as companies do not fully understand how their customers use their mobile devices, instead adopting tactics merely because they want to be first, because their competitors are active in the space, or because it is seen as being ‘trendy’. Rather choose a strategy and tactics that support your business goal of solidifying customer relationships.

Original document from Ulta Marketing.

The Benefits and Advantages of eBooks

by Remez Sasson

An ebook is a book in electronic format. It is downloaded to a computer, PC, Mac, laptop, PDA, tablet, smartphone or any other kind of reading device, and is read on the screen. It can have numbered pages, table of contents, pictures and graphics, exactly like a printed book.

Ebooks present many benefits and advantages, and this article shows some of them.

It is very simple and easy to purchase and download ebooks through the Internet. It is exactly like purchasing any other product. The only difference is that after payment you will either be directed to a download page or receive the download link in an email. All you have to do is click on the link and the ebook will automatically download to your computer, to a folder of your own choice.

After download you don’t have to be connected to the Internet in order to read the ebook. You can stay offline. If you wish to have it printed, it is very easy. Just click on the print button in the ebook, to print it with your home printer.

What are the benefits and advantages of ebooks?

  1. Ebooks are delivered almost instantaneously. You can purchase, download and start reading them within minutes, without leaving your chair. You don’t have to go to a bookstore to buy them, neither wait for them for days, weeks and sometimes more to arrive in the mail.
  2. No trees are required to manufacture paper for the pages of ebooks.
  3. When you need certain information, you can get it immediately, by downloading an ebook.
  4. Many ebooks are sold nowadays with bonuses, which you usually do not get with a printed book. This adds value to your purchase.
  5. Ebooks take up less space. You practically don’t need any space to store them. You don’t need a library or a room for them. You can store hundreds and thousands of ebooks on your computer or reading device.
  6. Ebooks are portable. You can carry a whole library of hundreds of books with you, on CD, in a laptop, notebook or any ebook reader, without worrying about their weight.
  7. With today’s technology you can read ebooks everywhere, on the bus, train, airplane, and while standing in line.
  8. Ebooks are more safely stored and carried from one place to another, than ordinary books. They also withstand time more than books.
  9. Ebooks can show links, for easy access to more information and related websites.
  10. Ebooks are searchable. You can easily search for any information in an ebook, instead of turning page after page.
  11. Ebooks can be interactive and contain audio, video and animations, which can enhance the message that the author is trying to convey.
  12. Since ebooks are delivered through the Internet, there are no packing and shipping expenses.
  13. Ebooks can be printable, so that if you wish to read an ebook in the traditional way, you can very inexpensively print it with your home printer or at any printing shop.
  14. Fonts in ebooks can be resized, making it easier to read for people with disabilities. With an additional software it is possible to turn some of the ebooks into audio books.
  15. Ebooks are very easy to to sell and distribute.
  16. It is very simple and easy to purchase and download an ebook. People living in big modernized cities, in a remote village in a far away country or on a small island, can equally access an ebook. It takes them the same amount of time to purchase and download an ebook, provided they have an Internet connection.
  17. It is possible to purchase an ebook 24 hours a day, every day of the year, from the comfort of your own house or office. You can purchase and download an ebook, even if you are on a vacation. All you need is a laptop, tablet. smartphone, or a reading device, and wireless Internet connection.
  18. People are already spending a lot of time in front of their computers, so why not read and ebook, instead of doing something else?

 
Nowadays, one can find ebooks about every possible subject, fiction and nonfiction, free and not free.

Considering non-fiction ebooks, such ebooks disseminate knowledge not pages, which means that it is not correct to evaluate the price of an ebook according to the number of its pages. The price should be determined by the information offered, its usefulness and its relevance, and also by the amount of practical knowledge, inspiration, motivation, tips and advice, and by the uniqueness of the information.

Original document from Success Consciousness.

© Copyright Remez Sasson

Remez Sasson teaches and writes on self-improvement, positive thinking, motivation, peace of mind, spirituality and meditation. He is the author of several books, among which are “Peace of mind in Daily Life”, “Emotional Detachment For a Better Life”, “Will Power and Self Discipline”, “Visualize and Achieve” and “Affirmations – Words with Power”.

Visit his website and find articles and books filled with inspiration, motivation and practical advice and guidance.
Website: www.SuccessConsciousness.com
Books: www.successconsciousness.com/ebooks_and_books.htm

The future of hotel loyalty programs

Airlines, Hotels, and Retailers take notice:  the popularity of loyalty programs is growing; but so is the dissatisfaction over program benefits and rewards when it comes to the high number of points or miles necessary for redemption, and rewards that consumers recognize to be valuable.

Brands must understand this new evolution of loyalty consumer demand, and a new whitepaper from the first club™Loyalty: Looking Forward: The State of the Loyalty Industry and its Digitized, Instant Future” provides insight into the next generation of loyalty programs. “Loyalty: Looking Forward” focuses on the challenges of low motivation at the lower spectrum of loyalty program customers.  What can brands do to prevent flight of customers who maintain low accumulations of points?  The broad answer:  provide incremental rewards that are relevant to the consumer, easily attainable, and instantly available through digital content.

68% of consumers feel that a loyalty program can strengthen their relationship with a brand, and successful rewards programs will cater to this demand for relevant offerings by providing a wide array of instantly-available digital content. “Loyalty: Looking Forward” provides specific industry data for airlines, hotels, and retailers: information that is essential to the loyalty program manager striving to prepare for the digital reward evolution.

A look inside “Loyalty: Looking Forward”:

Digital Content

48% of consumers spend more with a company whose loyalty program offers content that is relevant to them personally.  65% have purchased digital content online.  It is imperative, therefore, that brands implement programs that offer a wide array of content that is available digitally and easily.

Airlines

The modernization of airline FFPs to include digital rewards will substantially decrease airlines’ exposure to financial liability (by encouraging the incremental redemption of miles), and will resonate with consumers who clearly desire more value from their airline loyalty program.

Hotels

In today’s online deal-shopping atmosphere, consumers are less responsive to in-hotel premium services.  The days of offering elite “status” or premium service for customer loyalty are eroding.  The new day requires an offer or promise of tangible added value: 47% of consumers are motivated to join programs that provide instant gratification.

Retailers

Offering direct discounts for loyalty program members gives retailers the ability to immediately impact consumer decisions; these discount incentives, however, are easily duplicated by competitors.  The result: price wars within the segment.  Instead, companies have market expansion opportunities via loyalty programs or promotions that engage consumers.

Loyalty: Looking Forward” provides:

  • A look at what digital content consumers are demanding.
  • Explains how digital rewards provide hotels a cost effective opportunity to match these consumer demands.
  • Explains how cross-promoting across brands through digital rewards will expand a retailer’s market and increase margins.

 
Featuring latest statistics and defining characteristics of various industry loyalty programs presented by the first club™, “Loyalty: Looking Forward” will help program managers grasp emerging loyalty trends and their digitized, instant future.

Original document from Exebit.

Time for Hotels to Rethink Their Loyalty Programs

by Denis Huré and Jill Goldworn

For many years now, hotels have offered their loyalty reward program members the most logical rewards: recognition and appreciation through premium service. This is no longer a competitive option. Consider the rise of OTA loyalty programs: by leveraging their strength and reach across a multitude of brands, OTAs are developing universal programs that offer customers real savings through free stays and deep discounts. The thought of a single brand competing with this concept is a tall order. It’s time for hotels to rethink their approach to loyalty.

Backing up the OTA concept, a recent Chief Marketing Officer Council study found that 66% of top loyalty program members said that “discount and savings” were among top priority across all segments. The two attributes that most hotel programs primarily rely upon, “more individualized attention” and “recognition and appreciation,” represented only 30% combined. Clearly, discounts and savings are today’s trend in loyalty programs.

Of course, if hotels want to discount, they can simply discount their rate to loyalty program customers; however, a better way is to charge normal rate and offer the loyal customer a tangible incentive that captures their attention while representing true savings, or relevance, to them. This incentive should be a low-cost solution in order to provide an ROI that exceeds the amount of a comparable rate discount to the customer. There’s just one problem: most tangible incentives have a high cost of redemption/fulfillment — thus, ROI is harder to maintain.

So how can hotels provide loyalty program members with a more tangible incentive? According to a recent Mintel study, 61% of the respondents suggested that an important attribute of a rewards program would be redemption for merchandise they would buy anyway. Call it a relevant reward: something the loyalty member will probably buy, regardless of their interaction or involvement with your hotel.

The challenge here is to offer a large variety of products, throughout a variety of categories, to capture the relevant reward interest of each loyalty program member. In addition, relevant rewards have a timeframe: they are usually relatively inexpensive items that will be purchased within days. Only digital content can provide such a large variety of content (music, books, games, and more) instantly. In this way, instant digital content is a tangible incentive, seen as a real discount, or savings: a relevant reward.

In addition to offering loyalty members relevant rewards, digital content provides an adaptable solution to combat OTA programs. One example: in order to steer customers away from commission-based sites, hotels can offer instantly downloadable content as an added incentive for booking direct. The opportunities for promotion are endless and cost effective. Furthermore, the digital download platform gives hotels the ability to immediately track message effectiveness and add customer information to existing CRM programs.

So think about rethinking your loyalty program. It’s doubtful that individual properties can compete with the trend in OTA programs, so it’s time to attack it from a different angle.

Making Hotel Loyalty Programs More Effective

by Jill Goldworn and Denis Huré

There is no doubt that loyalty programs are on the rise today. In the U.S. alone, there are 1.8 billion individual memberships in loyalty programs1, everything from airlines to convenience stores to movie theaters. In light of this huge number, the general perception is that consumers are happy to join loyalty programs, eager to enjoy the added rewards that come with loyalty programs. The reality, however, is that they’re not. Confirming this expectation gap, a recent survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council found that some 32% of consumers surveyed felt that participation in loyalty programs holds “little to no value.” Ouch.

What has emerged as a result of this disconnect is a new direction in loyalty programs: instant reward redemptions. In the past, instant rewards have been limited to cash or discounts at the register; maybe a free item of very low value. Technology, thankfully, has given rise to this new breed of instantly redeemable rewards – the digital, downloadable kind. These instant rewards promise to finally eliminate some of the traditional problems associated with loyalty programs, like engagement and delivering value.

Problems with Traditional Programs

According The Journal of Retailing, “the rewards associated with loyalty programs provide a means to establish reciprocity between the customer and the company.2” But problems that have plagued this interaction, or reciprocity, throughout the years and usually stemming from the delay between collection and redemption by loyalty program members. Whether a program’s threshold for redemption is too high, or the redemption process is too cumbersome (which often the case; ask any FFP member), traditional loyalty programs suffer from program inefficiency. And here’s where instant redemption provides instant relief, specifically in two areas:

Low-Threshold Consumers

In the past, a big problem has been the loss of “low-threshold” consumers. For these consumers, who maintain a low accumulation of points (or whatever program currency), the traditional loyalty program concept fails: if the point threshold is too high, the program has become irrelevant because the consumer feels the reward is not obtainable3. In such cases, the loyalty program is actually hurting the brand. It suffers because the consumer disengages from the brand before they have received an added “reward” for membership.

Instant reward redemptions provide companies a very affordable alternative to offer these low-threshold consumers an easy way to burn low point accumulations. Loyalty program managers also benefit, as studies have shown that these “light buyers” represent a large increase in spending and purchase frequency post-redemption4. In other words, they’re not a segment to be ignored.

Delayed Redemption

Another area of concern with loyalty programs is cumbersome redemption processes. Regardless of the delivery method, timing is of the essence in loyalty programs. In fact, the timing is (almost) everything. The longer the delay in collecting a reward, the less powerful the loyalty creation5. Here, instant rewards reduce the delay between collection and redemption and, therefore, a larger chance for loyalty engagement success.

Digital Content: The Ultimate Instant Reward Redemption

Digital content, offering loyalty members downloadable content (such as the latest selection in music, movies, software, books, games, magazines), is emerging as the premier medium for the delivery of instant reward redemption. The sheer selection of digital content that is available, along with its monetization potential, makes it an excellent vehicle for instant reward redemption programs. Consumers want instant rewards, and digital content is the next logical step. Research from Mintel confirms this fact:

47% of consumers surveyed said their choice of loyalty program would be influenced by instant redemption options, such as cash or discounts.
Jackpot!

So with this information acquired from recent surveys and obvious positive consumer sentiment, the next question seems to be: is digital content a good substitution for cash or discounts?

In a word, yes. According to Mintel’s study, 61% of respondents said that lower overall cost for merchandise they would have purchased anyway is an important attribute of a loyalty or rewards program. It’s feasible to assume then, that relevant content, content that the consumer is likely to purchase regardless, is a good substitute for cash or discounts. And considering that 65% of internet users have paid for intangible digital content, there is a huge market for relevant and engaging digital content waiting to be developed6. In the UK, a recent YouGov survey showed that among those aged 18-34 who had engaged in digital activities, 22% spent more than £5 on digital books, the digital content category receiving the highest spend7.

Digital content presents a win-win strategy

Digital content gives businesses the chance to burn points off their balance sheet, while offering the entire spectrum of loyalty program participants the opportunity to redeem points for merchandise in which they are interested or already purchasing on a regular basis.

In essence, instant digital rewards have bridged the gap between reality and perception. By making rewards instantly redeemable, businesses can give their customers the value that they seek: relevant rewards instantly and anywhere, loaded onto the devices they use in their everyday lives. Instant digital rewards, it seems, have created a new trend in loyalty programs:

Programs that work for everyone.


Loyalty: Looking Forward

Featuring latest statistics and defining characteristics of various industry loyalty programs presented by the first club™, “Loyalty: Looking Forward” can help program managers grasp emerging loyalty trends and their digitized, instant future.

Original document from EHotelier.

Sources/References:

  1. <http://www.colloquy.com/article_view.asp?xd=5889>
  2. Kumar, V., and Denish Shah. 2004. “Building and sustaining profitable customer loyalty for the 21st century.” Journal of Retailing 80, no. 4: 317-330.
  3. O’Brien, Louise, and Charles Jones. 1995. “Do Rewards Really Create Loyalty?.” Harvard Business Review 73, no. 3: 75-82.
  4. Liu, Yuping, and Rong Yang. 2009. “Competing Loyalty Programs: Impact of Market Saturation, Market Share, and Category Expandability.” Journal of Marketing 73, no. 1: 93-108.
  5. Dowling, Grahame R., and Mark Uncles. 1997. “Do Customer Loyalty Programs Really Work?.” Sloan Management Review 38, no. 4: 71-82.
  6. Jansen, J.. December 30, 2010. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Paying-for-Content.aspx (accessed February 13, 2011).
  7. <http://www.kpmg.com/UK/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/NewsReleases/Pages/SmartphonesandTabletsdriverevenuefordigitalcontent,saysKPMGreport.aspx>
  8. Mintel data provided in the PR Newswire piece Instant Redemption Opportunities Lure in Loyalty Program Customers, Reports Mintel
  9. -CMO (32% hold “little to no value”) taken from “Loyalty: Looking Forward.”

A revolutionary ‘reward and loyalty service’ launched

thefirstclub.com the first club™ is revolutionising the reward and loyalty industry by being the first worldwide solution offering a fresh approach to instant rewards for customers and employees. Focused on loyalty programmes, incentive schemes, sales promotion and corporate rewards, it is designed to help companies boost existing reward and loyalty schemes by creating a gateway to the entertainment world.

Recent studies have shown that reward programmes, which deliver ‘personalised content’ and effectively address consumer’s changing lifestyles and personal tastes are more effective (Loyalty marketing publication, Colloquy). By providing millions of choices of the latest premium downloadable content, including titles from mp3 music tracks, PC games and software, to e-books and mobile phone content, the first club™ is at the forefront of this movement.

Working with major publishers such as, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount, Roxio and Electronic Arts, the first club™ is able to offer to the end-user a large and varied catalogue that is reflective of each country’s content and culture, with the service currently available in 14 languages. The result is the ultimate international entertainment catalogue of premium content.

Denis Huré, C.E.O and co-founder of the first club™, comments: “Every year millions of reward points remain unredeemed, these “orphan points” are terribly costly for companies and unsatisfying for their customers. By having the cost saving alternative option of instantly redeeming reward points via a download rewards scheme, the first club™ is meeting the demand of today’s savvy consumer and forward thinking brands”.

Solely in the U.K. £5.2billion worth of unused loyalty card points are not being redeemed. The typical consumer has numerous loyalty cards, but often doesn’t know how to benefit from the loyalty scheme. Each time consumers don’t redeem their points, it’s a missed opportunity (Daily Mail, 01.06.10). the first club™ gives consumers the possibility to redeem their points immediately by downloading content to their mobile phones, eReaders or laptops for instant use and the ability to own it to use again in the future.

the first club™ offers flexibility to companies by providing three different levels of membership, enabling a brand to choose their own level of online visibility according to their requirements and the needs of their target audience. Companies are afforded the ability to customise and individually brand the website using their own corporate brand and content, which allows them to adapt the services to its customer’s preferences. Prestigious companies such as; Accor Services (now trading as Eden Red), Arvato Services, Lightspeed (part of WPP Group), Sapphire Technology and Corporate Rewards are just some of the organisations that have embraced the first club™ to date.

the first club™ announces today that it is extending its business offering by launching a new corporate website to address the growing needs of the rewards and loyalty industry and further strengthen communications with customers and business partners. The new corporate website provides key information on its range of services, including its profile, a presentation of the different programmes and their benefits, a portfolio section, corporate news and press releases.

More information on the first club™ services can be found by visiting
www.thefirstclub.net.