The Biggest Incentive Program Ever

Posted by Leo Jakobson on January 31, 2008

In this industry, we like to say 'cash doesn't work,' and for a variety of reasons, among them the concern that an employee given a check for doing a great job will sign it over to his or her gas utility, thereby gutting the trophy value of the award.

Of course, if you’re reading this blog, you already know that. But it bears repeating as congress put the finishing touches on what will likely be the largest single short-term incentive program ever launched. A few minutes ago, the U.S. Senate’s leadership announced they would pass the same economic stimulus bill passed last week by the House, giving married households a check of $1,200 or more (if they have children) in what at its core a $170 billion program designed to incentivize spooked consumers to start spending money on consumer goods again.

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Growing Gift Card Fee Fight

Posted by Leo Jakobson on March 06, 2007

Recently, I came across a Wall Street Journal article from January about the growing battle between merchants and financial institutions over convincing consumers to sign for purchases made with a debit card, as oppose to using their PIN code at the register.

While this is a bit tangential to the readers of the Incentive and Potentials Gift Card Newsletter, it’s an interesting look at an industry tussle that will likely be growing this year. It’s not entirely irrelevant, as gift card issuers and users will be affected, and because incentive programs are being used to induce consumers to choose one option over the other.

Essentially, the article (subscription required) reports, the issue is this:

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New Points Program Partnership

Posted by Donna Airoldi on October 10, 2006

Business travel writers have been heralding the end of airline mileage loyalty programs for at least a couple years now. But as carriers tighten their restrictions and raise the number of points needed for redemption, credit card issuers are expanding their partnerships and offerings for frequent flyers.

The latest product is from American Express and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which have launched the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card, for business travelers looking for bonus miles with a range of airlines and hotels. Benefits include:

* a 25% bonus (5000 points) every time 20,000 Starpoints are transferred to miles at more than 30 airline partners
* access to more than 825 hotels and resorts in 95 countries with no blackout dates
* 10,000 Starpoints for first purchase with the Card
* one Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent on the Card
* double Starpoints at select retail partners, such as Bliss Spa
* automatic upgrades for Cardmembers who spend $30,000 or more each calendar year

The Card offers OPEN Savings, which gives automatic discounts on purchases at partners, such as Delta, Fedex Kinko's and JetBlue. In the past few years, OPEN Savings has saved small business owners more than $100 million, according to a release from American Express.

Starwood also has enhanced its consumer credit card. For more benefit information and the text of the full release, continue reading below.

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The Dumpling Dilemma

Posted by Leo Jakobson on August 25, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, the little dumpling place across the street from my apartment started up a consumer loyalty program. Nothing fancy, mind, just the standard buy-10-get-one-free plan using business cards and a rubber stamp.

I was thinking about it yesterday because I just wrote an article for next week’s Potentials & Incentive Gift Card Newsletter about the Subway Rewards Card—a combination loyalty program and gift card—coming in the next month or so from the people who brought you The Jared Diet. A while back Subway discontinued its original customer loyalty program, which was exactly the same as the one run now by Dumpling Man—a single take-out and counter joint offering nothing more that a selection of a half dozen dumplings (pork, shrimp, etc.), made in front of your eyes all day long by a crew of middle-aged women who appear to speak no English at all—even the order slips print out in Chinese.

A large national chain, Subway will get a lot more bang for its buck from the new loyalty program, which uses a stored-value card that has three functions: it acts as a reloadable payment card, can be given as a gift card and will track purchases and automatically give out points good for free food. Subway Rewards Points users will register online, providing out demographic information that should prove invaluable to the company.

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