Of all the consumer-facing businesses and organizations with a travel loyalty program in place, few have built those programs from scratch using internal resources. The rest, at some point or another, identified a partner that could help them build or expand their programs. Why? Because creating and deploying an effective travel loyalty program is hard; it requires technical expertise and in-depth experience within the travel market, neither of which are necessarily core competencies of companies with loyalty programs.
So what should your organization look for in a travel loyalty program provider? What makes a good partner, and what qualities will help you achieve your loyalty and revenue goals?
We’ve put together this brief checklist of the seven key capabilities to consider when identifying a loyalty partner:
1. They offer solutions tailored to your business
Not all loyalty strategies have the same goals, and not all travel loyalty programs are built similarly. Some companies may already have a program that only needs to be expanded and enhanced with custom options. Other organizations need to be able to deploy a program ‘out of the box’ quickly and cost-effectively. A loyalty technology provider that offers both a turnkey solution and more customized implementations is your best bet for a long-term partner.
2. Every solution features a robust network of travel inventory suppliers
The “travel” aspect of a travel loyalty program is the hardest to master; it’s just something most organizations outside of the travel sector have to deal with. A loyalty program partner that has established relationships with a wide range of travel suppliers accomplishes two key goals:
- First, it ensures that the travel options members want will be available.
- Second, it enables companies to leverage their exclusive groups of users (members) to secure deals and discounts from multiple travel inventory providers, delivering exceptional value. And value for money is consistently cited by American travelers as their primary consideration when planning a trip.
3. The platform offers cruise booking capability
While this may seem to be an extension of having a broad travel supplier network, the ability to book cruises through a loyalty program is important enough to members to warrant special mention. A recent survey of travel reward program members by arrivia found that nearly half – 48% – have booked, are planning to book, or are considering booking a cruise in the next two years. Not every travel loyalty program provider is prepared to meet that extraordinary demand.
4. The ability to implement a flexible loyalty currency
A flexible loyalty currency allows programs to modify points’ value, integrate new savings with existing currencies, and fund bonus points or miles through the margin earned on other travel products. It also allows loyalty programs to reward members for different actions or activities and create valuable incentives for key membership thresholds, like joining or reaching a new status tier. Compared to static points or miles, a technology partner that can offer a flexible currency unlocks significant value for loyalty programs.
5. The availability of human-centric customer service
Maintaining a customer service department for loyalty program members is likely too cost- and time-intensive for most companies or organizations. By finding a loyalty program provider that offers customer service as part of their solution, they can eliminate that cost and gain member servicing capability that leverages travel-specific expertise, upsell ability, and multi-lingual support.
6. Offering agency-level marketing support
Similarly, a company with a loyalty program doesn’t need to spend time and resources promoting the program, recruiting new members or activating existing ones when it identifies a partner that offers marketing support. A good loyalty program partner will offer leverage member data to execute marketing strategies that keep members engaged and active within the travel loyalty program and help attract new members to it.
7. They have a wealth of experience
There’s no substitute for experience. A travel loyalty program provider with a long track record of successful deployments understands what works for different companies or organizations and what doesn’t. It deeply understands best practices and has likely optimized its offerings for maximum effectiveness. An experienced partner has strong travel industry relationships and streamlined internal processes. Look for this kind of partner when choosing your loyalty program provider.