Travel Clubs and Loyalty Programs

Enhancing Retail Loyalty with Travel Clubs-as-a-Service

Have you ever asked yourself: What is a loyalty program? It seems like a simple question – after all, we all probably belong to at least one loyalty program, whether it takes the form of a frequent flyer program, co-brand credit card, member club or travel club (this last one, travel clubs, happen to be our specialty and you can learn more here). To put it briefly, loyalty programs reward members for their purchases, incentivize them to purchase and engage with the brand, and provide added value beyond the transaction.

The loyalty program value proposition is meant to be easily understood by members so that they will actively and regularly “earn and burn” their rewards. But for the retailer, airline, credit card company or other brand offering the program, loyalty is a complicated business that requires partnerships, integrations and connections across multiple vendors, inventory sources and platforms. Just as importantly, brands are under pressure to deliver real, ongoing value for the program to succeed – otherwise, it becomes a cost center rather than a profit driver (for an example, see the high-profile failure of the Plenti program by American Express).

By adding a travel club on top of existing loyalty programs, including frequent flyer programs and co-brand cards, both travel and non-travel brands can immediately enhance the quality of their loyalty offering (brand appeal) and the value of being a program member (only subscribers can access the club portal). Brands with a travel club can also connect to a wider fulfillment network that gives their members access to elite travel and lifestyle benefits at discount prices – a real differentiator to help loyal customers to stay loyal.

Travel Clubs as- a-Service for Non-Travel Brands

The fulfillment capabilities needed to succeed in loyalty are already available to major retailers and credit card companies. They have the resources to build a world-class program and leverage cross-industry partnerships for ancillary revenue. But what about smaller brands and organizations with fewer resources? How they can build loyalty and ultimately convert brand affinity into brand equity and higher revenue? American Express will surely be able to write off Plenti and move on to other ventures, but smaller brands might be stuck with outdated loyalty apps, programs that fail to engage members and oversaturation of the market with underwhelming programs (consumers belong to many programs but only engage with a few).

By offering travel clubs “as a service” through a SaaS-based platform, Custom Travel Solutions has essentially condensed the travel industry into a private label, ready-made revenue program that can complement and enhance any existing website or program geared toward loyalty, customer acquisition and retention, and ancillary revenue. Read more about the importance of travel clubs for retail, financial services and other non-travel verticals in our recent article in Retail Touchpoints.