BizReport Interview: Experts: The reward options that will engage consumers

This interview by Kristina Knight was originally posted on

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more important to consumers. This is emphasized in the 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR study that revealed consumer preferences towards giving and supporting cause-conscious brands.

Kristina: What types of rewards are consumers most looking for at this point?

Peter Gorla, Managing Director, VOILÀ Hotel Rewards: Similar to the global chain loyalty programs, VOILÀ features many different types of redemption partners, including airlines, retail partners, banks and charities. However, even with all of those alternative redemption options, members gravitate towards Award Night redemptions with a much higher bias. I see this trend continuing with VOILÀ and it’s what my counterparts at other hotel loyalty programs have confirmed anecdotally.

Mark Dority, Director of Business Development, KULA Causes: The core product (overnight stays or airline seats) will always be the number one reward option for loyalty members. As loyalty marketers we know we cannot always fulfill this demand so it is key to provide compelling rewards to keep members engaged in the earn/burn cycle of the program. Kula’s proposition falls directly in line with this need to provide compelling rewards and member engagement. Because Kula offers 2 million causes that reach every corner of the globe, there is the opportunity to reach virtually member’s individual affinity.

Kristina: Are you seeing a bigger uptick for programs that allow consumers to join a cause?

Peter: Yes, this appears to be the case. I think corporations, in general, are realizing that they can help to make the world a better place, while at the same time fulfilling their duties to shareholders. There is certainly a place in any and all loyalty programs for charitable redemption options, and for some members this is the ideal use of their points.

Mark: The two stats that stand out [from the Cone study] are; 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause(s) given comparable price and quality, and 93% of global consumers say they want to see more of the products, services and retailers they frequent to support worthy social and environmental issues. This shows that consumers are now more than ever looking at brands that are doing good and rewarding them with their patronage.

Kristina: What is the draw to this kind of program?

Peter: VOILÀ’s points-based frequency guest program provides recognition benefits and room redemption opportunities at participating network hotels. But unlike big chain programs, VOILÀ enables independent hotel groups to maintain their branding and unique qualities. To achieve this, VOILÀ provides hotel- or group-branded solutions for our partner hotels, with VOILÀ acting as the supporting brand (similar to Star Alliance or OneWorld for frequent flyer programs).

Mark: Just like VOILÀ, Kula supports its partners with hyper-local content. This allows the individual partners, and hotels in this case, to use Kula’s CLM™ (Cause-Related Loyalty Marketing) platform to engage members in a more personalized manner. Because of this we feel it’s a win-win-win situation.

You can read part one of Kristina Knight’s chat with VOILÀ and KULA, including trends in the loyalty space, here.