Customer loyalty schemes have a long history of successfully improving customer engagement and retention in the retail sector. As travel agencies already know bringing in new customers compared to retaining existing clients is far more costly. As such, there are lessons agencies can learn from the retail market on how, if executed well, loyalty schemes can increase your customer retention and significantly boost bottom-line profits.

The current marketplace, with aggregator and comparison websites, makes it easy for customers to switch from one agent to another with a click of a mouse. With this in mind it is more important than ever for travel agents to do all they can to bring in and keep holiday goers loyal. In order to increase customer retention, agents need to recognise and reward their best customers.

Through such methods it is possible to incentivise valued customers to remain faithful users and advocates of your business, which can do wonders for your success.

The right fit

The reason customers like a loyalty scheme is because it makes them feel that they are getting rewarded above and beyond the excellent service you provide when they give you their business. With this in mind you must remember that a reward needs to give customers something that they will truly appreciate.

It is also important not to lose sight of the suitability of a loyalty scheme to your business. These can vary from fixed discounts to prizes for adults, or perhaps if it is a family holiday a treat for the parents or children when on their trip.

For example a travel agent could copy what the likes of a coffee shop does and launch a simple card scheme whereby customers earn a reward after making a set amount of bookings or purchases.

Keeping your company’s name at the front of a holiday goers mind for when they are planning on going away can be tricky, especially if the customer only uses your service once or twice a year. Offering free goods, discounts and special buying opportunities to regular customers, regardless of how frequently they travel shows them that you value their custom and keeps them coming through your door.

Other ways to reward customers can include creating a loyalty card scheme, teaming up with an associated business to offer discounts, offering cumulative discounts on selected products, or rewarding introductions or referrals. Above all, your scheme should be simple to use and the rewards should be attractive and attainable.

The benefits of loyalty schemes

Loyal customers are also good for your business because they become your best advocates. They can quickly become walking, talking advertisements and genuine campaigners for your brand.

However, providing a clear, simple and smooth experience for customers will be essential for winning and retaining an individual’s allegiance to a brand. A clear, integrated approach to rewards is therefore essential for ensuring that your loyalty scheme gives you a competitive edge over your rivals. If it is unclear what the scheme is offering, the customer is unlikely to engage with it.

This is an area that travel agents need to get right, which is why it is key to be looking and learning from what businesses in other sectors, such as retail (which has a vast amount of experience in the loyalty area) are doing.

Using gift cards and apps as payment methods for customers to spend their rewards can provide valuable real-time data on where, what and how a product has been purchased. This information can then be used to develop bespoke and tailored rewards, which can help make a customer feel valued and improve brand reputation as a result.

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