Put “Rational” back in your Operational Routine

Administering loyalty and incentive programs is a complicated, fast paced and continually evolving process that could consume significant time and resources with no guarantees of the end result being the right solution. The last thing program administrators need is more operational details to manage and monitor. Even worse is if all their efforts still result in a rewards selection that is not leading edge.   Members of rewards programs demand parity in experience and selection with consumer channels. Not meeting this bar puts programs at risk of being ignored or viewed as low value.

Merchandise, Travel and Gift Cards continue to be the preferred redemption options for loyalty and incentive programs. Program managers looking to drive redemptions, engagement and emotional loyalty should consider the following rational guidelines when assessing whether their rewards program has a best in class rewards offering that is achieving your business goals.

Guideline #1:  Make sure that your Merchandise selection keeps up with the latest models.  The trophy value of merchandise for a reward has long been recognized by programs, but is it truly a trophy if it doesn’t keep up with the Joneses?  Your reward members expect to have access to the most seasonally popular and latest items. Electronics continue to dominate the space as the most popular redemption option.  But with the latest and greatest products being released at a furious pace, programs need a reliable way to source new models and ensure inventory availability.  Tablets, mobile phones, wearables and voice assistant releases come to market with such speed that direct sourcing is not feasible.

Programs need connectivity to multi-channel supplier networks that are connected to inventory management systems and that land the products as soon as they hit the market.  Ask yourself – will my program have the latest Apple products which were revealed last week at Apple’s 10 Year iPhone Anniversary New Product Introduction?  If not, it may be time to find the right partner who can effectively source relevant merchandise. Face it, last year’s model is last year’s reward.  

Guideline #2:  Create a Travel Booking Experience which replicates booking travel on the most popular consumer online booking tools.  Travel remains the aspirational reward for many programs, but is it memorable for the right reasons if it’s a hassle to make a booking?  The path to booking travel has evolved from a lengthy call with a service agent to online and mobile portals. Your program needs to deliver a travel booking tool which is compelling and offers the necessary depth of information. The sheer number of travel options and inventory changes combined with challenging travel industry rules and regulations makes it difficult for a loyalty program to maintain a competitive consumer facing travel site.

Partnering with loyalty travel technology specialists will ensure compliance with industry standards and allow your program to experience significant efficiencies.  Successful program sponsors can efficiently shift bookings away from offline channels in exchange for an elegant online travel booking experience, ultimately resulting in cost savings.  And if online bookers need live help, they should have access to a full support travel service center.

Guideline #3 – Go electronic and offer a vast selection of gift card brands. While Gift Cards continue to be a popular redemption option, who wants to wait by the mailbox for weeks before you can start shopping?  Gone are the days when redeemers had to purchase gift cards 10 days prior to an event. Today, electronic gift cards successfully extend ordering time-frames during popular holiday periods.

The dizzying number of brands which consumers demand leaves program administrators in need of simplification as they strive to deliver electronic gift cards for hundreds of brands with fragmented distribution systems. Program managers should wisely consolidate gift card offering with the right supplier who can offer both choice and electronic delivery to satisfy the savvy consumer.

Eliminating the hassle of managing technology and rewards item management allows smart program administrators to focus on strategy and growth instead of operational management. Best in class reward and incentive programs look to Bridge2 Solutions to ease their sourcing and reward offering woes with a single turnkey application that exceeds expectations across all popular redemption offerings.  Now that’s rational.