Loyalty Programs and Me
My first brush with a loyalty program was Pan Am’s frequent flyer program when I was in the US in the late 1980s. I remember making an India trip and earning triple points and some more – enough to get another round-trip for free. What an introduction to the world of airline miles!! I then became part of every airline I flew – signing up was free. Over time, the one I have benefited most from has been the Star Alliance one – especially because of the US trips. It is never easy to get the free tickets because it is hard to sync business travel with seat availability.
The other loyalty (membership) program that has been useful has been Amazon Prime in India. It’s a no-brainer to sign-up for. One thing I do when I travel to the US is to create a new email ID and sign-up for free for Amazon Prime for 30 days so I get their free shipping while I am in the US. A bit cheeky, but offers good savings!
There are of course the credit card loyalty programs where points keep adding up. I had an interesting redemption recently – Citibank offered me an opportunity to use my points to pay for a Swiggy order (which I accepted).
There are a lot of bespoke loyalty programs. The one I have used is the one which gives points for dining at Quattro and SpiceKlub (in Lower Parel near my office). I wonder how I can redeem my points in a Swiggy-Zomato delivery-centric world! Most of the others (Raymond, Baskin Robbins, Bata are the ones I can remember) are linked with my mobile number and tend to just add the points and send a reminder periodically, but there typically aren’t enough points to redeem. Maybe I should try a multi-brand program like Payback just to explore how it works.
As I think about it, none of the loyalty programs has been really exciting (except Amazon Prime with its free shipping, video, music). There is much that can be done to improve loyalty programs. Indian brands have not fully exploited their power.
As I explored the world of loyalty programs, I also wondered what it would take to create a loyalty program for emails (microns). After all, the email inbox is where many of us spend a lot of time and brands spend a lot of money delivering content to us. This is the story we will take up next.