Posts Tagged ‘consumer’

These days many businesses seem to believe that they need a mechanism to hook consumers into their brand or their services. The other day I received a voucher from a Hong Kong hotel chain, apparently sent as part of my membership of their ‘Regal rewards’ scheme, and normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. I suppose I take for granted the onslaught of loyalty schemes, credit cards, branded gift cards, and other ‘strange attractors’ that various types of businesses now offer me as a consumer, yet there was something slightly odd about this one and it got me thinking. I’ll describe what they sent me in moment but I wondered what I really had in my wallet.

As it turned out, when I turned out my pockets and turned over the contents of my kitchen drawer (where those that don’t make it to the Champions League of my wallet get “stored”), I had more than I thought… so perhaps a truncated inventory would be in order, with occasional commentary:

1. Tesco Clubcard. This is a massive and pervasive loyalty scheme, and I have to say it does work quite well. Who knows what they’re doing with all this information about what we buy, but they sprinkle enough sugar on to make it worthwhile scanning the card each time.

2. Boots Advantage Card. I use this one whenever I go there, but don’t go there much. It’s a pretty straight-forward exchange of points for pennies at the till, and they also send out coupons, but does anyone use the ATM-like machines in store for more?  Unlike Tesco, this seems to be a card made useful only by the fact that Boots is so dominant on the High Street.

3. Caffe Nero, a simple “stamp on your card each time you buy a coffee” loyalty device, which works for me as I prefer their coffee to either Starbucks or Costa (and now I notice my wallet also has one of these from Pret a Manger and one from Marks & Spencer) and, purely personally, there’s a link to…

4. Blackwell Reward card, a £5 discount on a book for each £100 spent at this Oxford bookshop, my favourite browsing bookshop.

5. A couple of airline loyalty schemes, Virgin Atlantic (lovely flying experience, truly awful rewards scheme, virtually unredeemable), and BA’s Executive Flying Club (mixed experience as a service much more impressive reward scheme, very redeemable). Interesting one, this, as in this case, all other things being equal, I would now choose the lesser service because the reward scheme is more value.

6. Hilton Honors card, rarely used but seems to be a great excuse for them to email me offers of another credit card, and a Hertz No. 1 Gold card (great name for a card that gives you virtually nothing).

7. A Body Shop card valid for 1 year, “bought” only because it was on offer and gave a discount on first purchase. Can’t think I’ll use it much this year, though they promised to remember and reward my birthday!

Perhaps there are a few others, tucked away, or pinned to the fridge door, but eventually a fatigue sets in, and the question about Nectar or offer of points-for-prizes is no longer taken on its own merit. And my  list is, of course, culturally grounded in its content (for example recently, in Sydney, I could only look confused when the checkout assistant at a Coles supermarket asked me if I had any Fly-buys…), but is increasingly universal in its concept. Hence this blog entry, since the offer posted to me was from a hotel chain based in Hong Kong.

What I received now, having earlier got the usual account emails (will I ever remember all that login stuff?), was a paper voucher for a 300 HK$ discount off my next room charge at this hotel chain. The voucher is stamped with a number and counter-stamped in a different coloured ink from the hotel’s Accounts Department.  That’s ok, I guess, if a little bit over-kill for a £25 discount (and actually I quite like the idea of this being so well documented), but then I noticed that the cover letter also asked me to sign the letter confirming receipt and post or fax it back to the hotel. This was novel, and I wonder whether what it betrays of the state of CRM in Asia, or at least the highly bureaucratic nature of many Asian businesses. Is it just a learning curve on the way to greater de-personalisation and automation, or a preferred method of record-keeping?

Does anyone have any thoughts, or expertise in this area?

* One interesting side-point to note on this. I had earlier Tweeted a comment that I was considering writing about Loyalty schemes and cards following my Hong Kong hotel visit, and within 30 seconds my Tweet had been replied to by a site which offers discounts on hotels in, you guessed it, Hong Kong.

The Playmobil Penguins enjoy the view from their hotel window high above the streets of Hong Kong

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