Creating a Global Loyalty Coalition Brand: Loyalty Expo 2014 Recap
It was very fitting that Ed Puckhaber, president and COO of Thanks Again, and Marcin Kosciak, vice president of CRM and loyalty at Comarch Inc., presented together at Loyalty Expo 2014. The two actually met at an earlier Loyalty Expo several years prior, forging the beginning of a unique and successful relationship between their respective companies.
As Puckhaber recalled, when Kosciak first recommended using Comarch, he didn’t think a change in the Thanks Again loyalty platform was needed. However, after realizing how much more efficient Comarch Loyalty Management made his airport-centric program, Puckhaber made the switch and has been very pleased with his decision. “Comarch Loyalty Management is an amazing platform and one we plan to deal with for quite some time,” he said during the presentation.
In just six months (contract was signed April 2013; program launched October 2013), Comarch produced a robust platform that satisfied all of Thanks Again’s requirements:
- Completed in a short time frame
- Integrated with major U.S. credit card brands
- Compliant under PCI DSS guidelines
- Automatically transferred points/miles from credit cards to members’ accounts
- Allowed merchants to become part of a nationwide coalition through an easy-to-implement, turnkey solution
- Placed emphasis on consumer convenience
Ultimate Convenience for Consumers
Thanks Again’s coalition loyalty program offers unmatched convenience to consumers in a variety of ways. It operates via card-linked technology, integrated with all three of the major U.S. credit cards that most people already own and use regularly. Those wishing to enroll in the program simply register their credit or debit card and can start earning extra points or miles whenever the cards are used at participating airport locations such as restaurants, stores and parking areas.
“As far as the rewards are concerned, consumers have the ultimate choice,” stated Puckhaber. “They choose which card will be enabled, which reward program it will collaborate with, and how they’d like to redeem the rewards. Furthermore, the cards automatically transfer the accrued points or miles to the corresponding rewards account chosen by the consumer. After initial enrollment with Thanks Again, there is virtually no additional effort required by consumers to participate in the program.”
Ease of Implementation for Merchants
The ultimate convenience and choice offered to consumers is also attractive to merchants, whose primary concern is connecting with their customers. But the real attraction for merchants looking to join Thanks Again’s coalition is the ease of implementation. Adopting Thanks Again does not require any additional hardware or IT support, and there are no changes or disruptions in the merchants’ normal business procedures, said Puckhaber.
“Because Thanks Again is a turnkey solution that integrates seamlessly with existing systems, it can be set up in a matter of weeks, not months,” he explained. “And most of that time is actually spent on merchant procedures. There is no formal training, but merchants need to be familiarized with the program so they can promote it and use it to further their business.”
Additionally, merchants set their own terms/deals through which their customers earn points or miles – as Puckhaber put it, there is no “cookie-cutter approach” to adding merchants, who have a great deal of control over just how they participate in the program.
Both presenters offered insight as to what the future holds for the Thanks Again loyalty coalition fueled by Comarch.
- Gamification and Social Integration
“We hope to add some more sophisticated features to the Thanks Again program in the near future,” said Kosciak. “Comarch has some advanced capabilities in relation to gamification and social integration that will surely benefit the coalition. We are already in talks with the three major credit providers about it, and we are just waiting for them to be fully committed to adopting the emerging channels.”
Puckhaber believes the term “aerotropolis,” the building and/or planning of a city around an airport, will become prevalent in the U.S. With the airport as the centralized hub of all travel and business in major cities, Puckhaber and his team envision a future in which the airport is more than just a place that facilitates travel from point A to point B; people will flock to the airport specifically for the best restaurants, stores and entertainment – returning home afterward, without boarding a plane.
- International Expansion
Both presenters agreed that the airport-centric coalition program is primed for global expansion. Puckhaber shared with the crowd that his team is “definitely looking at” international markets, citing Latin America as a region of notable interest. He also detailed the recently announced agreement between Thanks Again and Areas, a multinational company that manages more than 1,250 food, beverage and retail outlets in the worldwide travel sector.
Convenience for consumers, ease of adoption for merchants, promising steps toward global expansion and Comarch’s intuitive platform all combine to offer a one-of-a-kind loyalty coalition that continues to grow in size and popularity. Thanks Again’s program currently spans more than 150 airports in North America, including 12 that have deployed the solution enterprise-wide. It will be interesting to keep an eye on these trends as Thanks Again becomes increasingly prominent in the modern loyalty landscape.