How small businesses can gain from loyalty schemes
We are inclined to think that businesses run loyalty programmes and customers belong to them. But many businesses, particularly SMEs, also belong to supplier-run programmes. How can they maximise benefits in the downturn?
According to Points.com, small business owners are, on average, members of twelve loyalty programmes and are active in five. In many cases, these individuals participate in a variety of programmes in their personal and professional lives, often accruing even more points purchasing hotel stays and flights for their employees, and buying office supplies through their programmes' online shopping malls.
Points.com has therefore outlined four basic principles to successfully capitalise on the rewards:
- Education It is key to have an office manager or operations person who can help choose programmes that best benefit the company and who also keeps track of assets. Rewards should meet the needs of the business: if regular business travel is involved, travel incentives are good; if clients are entertained regularly, dining benefits are good; or to reduce day-to-day expenses look for supplier and retail loyalty programmes.
- Focus earnings Leverage the money you're already spending across a variety of potential awards-earning platforms, including airlines, hotels, car rentals, restaurants. Select the one in each sector that best suits your business and make it a preferred supplier, so that points accumulate in a more focused way.
- Use top-ups If you've almost reached the reward level, consider buying the points or miles needed to redeem. Rates vary by provider, but in many cases topping up can be less expensive than buying a ticket or booking a room outright. For example, Points.com's Global Points Exchange allows buyers and sellers to trade the points and miles they have for those they need and set the exchange rates, so consolidating otherwise wasted points.
- Redeem Once the business is monitoring and earning rewards more effectively, redeeming them for hotel stays and certificates at major retailers is free and can help save on regular expenses. Don't assume that points can only be redeemed for flights and hotels.