Audio Transcript

#207: The "Australian Loyalty Association" Expands and Partners with "Let's Talk Loyalty" (20m)
Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas. And if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world. Hello and welcome to episode 207 of Let’s Talk Loyalty, a long overdue catch up with Sarah Richardson, the founder and advisory board chair of the Australian Loyalty Association. Sarah first joined me on Let’s Talk Loyalty in early 2020. And in that conversation, she explained some of the fascinating characteristics of our industry in Australia.
Paula Thomas

00:00:50
So if that’s a country you’re interested in, you can listen back to that episode. Anytime it’s Let’s Talk Loyalty.com forward slash 21. Now two years on, despite the huge challenges we’ve all experienced all over the world. The global pandemic actually also created new opportunities for the association. And Sarah explains those on today’s show today. We’re also super excited to be announcing a joint content partnership between Let’s Talk Loyalty and the Australian loyalty association together. Our plan is to create and share more content in audio format content that’s exciting and relevant for loyalty industry professionals across both Australia and now even further afield across all of Asia Pacific So Sarah joining me today from Melbourne Australia.
Paula Thomas

00:01:54
Welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty
Sarah Richardson

00:01:56
And thank you Paula.
Paula Thomas

00:01:57
It’s great to have you back, Sarah, how are you doing?
Sarah Richardson

00:02:00
Doing really well. Thank you.
Paula Thomas

00:02:02
Great, great life is getting back to normal in thankfully two years after our last conversation on the show. So I will be dying to hear everything that’s going on with the Australian loyalty association, particularly I know today, April 7th, as this show is going out, I know you have a big event, but before we get into everything that you’re doing, please tell me, first of all, what is your current favorite loyalty program? Sarah?
Sarah Richardson

00:02:27
No worries. Paula. There’s so many brilliant lodge programs in Australia, as I’m sure you know, you’ve had some of the leaders on your show, but at the moment I’m really loving the crown rewards program. So I am holding all my events at Crown Melbourne over the next 12 months. And so I instantly became a platinum member working my way up to that. I probably would not have reached that otherwise. And it’s, it’s such a wonderful place in Melbourne for anybody who hasn’t been to Crown. There are hotels and restaurants, some gambling floors, cinemas, a spa, et cetera.
Sarah Richardson

00:03:10
And so you can earn and redeem points across all of those businesses, which program knows how incredibly hard that is to fill out. And especially if you, if you include anything to do with gambling, it makes it, it makes it even harder. I actually don’t participate in that part of the program, but I do love that the hotel and the spas and all the rest of it. So the thing that I’m receiving a free valet parking, which is just wonderful,
Paula Thomas

00:03:42
I
Sarah Richardson

00:03:42
Find my way around the enormous complex and they give chocolates and sparkling wine on your birthday at the restaurants and some really excellent discounts across some, some of the things that I do. And they’ve got some really great partnerships. So all these things are just such a treat and make me feel so special. So I’m loving that program at the moment.
Paula Thomas

00:04:05
That’s a really good example, Sarah. And what it sounds like actually is a program that’s targeting both consumers and B2B. So I think that’s quite a rare combination. Am I right?
Sarah Richardson

00:04:17
Yeah, it is. I was probably surprised when I started to hold the events that I was getting points for doing that. So I think it’s quite a niche part of the program. It definitely is mainly a B to C loyalty program, but yeah, it just goes to show you, I use it or the reason I’m having the events there because I love the place anyway. I built myself to go with, but now have gone up the trajectory very happily and I’m in the experiencing a different level of, of real world.
Paula Thomas

00:04:50
Brilliant, brilliant. So I’m thrilled that you’re having your events in person again, Sarah, I know you’re also doing exceptional events virtually and they’re set to continue. So we’ll definitely be talking more about that. So, and you know, of course, obviously that Australia’s top of my travel wishlist, please God, in 2023 to come and join you for some of those events. So definitely am excited about that. But I suppose, just to go back to when you were on the show last time Sarah was February, 2020, I probably hadn’t even heard the word pandemic or COVID or all of that stuff that’s affected us in between, but you did tell us a lot about why you set up the Australia loyalty association.
Paula Thomas

00:05:31
And so for people who didn’t hear that show, Sarah, I’d love you just to talk a bit about why did you found fash because it’s incredibly successful. I know the work that you do there, but love to go back a bit in, in time just to, to get the origins of,
Sarah Richardson

00:05:47
Well, interestingly in February, 2020, I had just returned back from Japan where I was planning an international Loti ski trip for 2021, which obviously didn’t happen. So we are now hoping maybe for 20, 24, depending on, on, on the pandemic. And so I can’t even remember Paula, what it was that we discussed about why I started the ALA. Hopefully my answer is the same, but…
Paula Thomas

00:06:17
Well, things change in time as well, Sarah, you know, on reflection, but it is an extraordinary organization. So tell us about it.
Sarah Richardson

00:06:26
Yeah. Well, I had been in corporate roles for most of my career and had met some wonderful people in loyalty and marketing. And so I decided to have a dinner with all the people that I hadn’t been able to see, because obviously when you run a lot launch program, you spend most of your time working and over the years, it just grew from there. So the dinners got bigger and bigger. And at some point you mentioned, maybe we should have a conference. So we tried that and that was highly successful. And it was really a side gig for me while I was consulting on Northeast strategy.
Sarah Richardson

00:07:06
And it just became very embryonically, a large organization, and we now have three and a half thousand members and 12 sponsors and do events throughout the year. And all the other things that if you go to our website, you’ll be able to see,
Paula Thomas

00:07:25
Oh, of course, absolutely. Yes. And I love your website. I know you’ve upgraded as well recently, Sarah, so we’ll make sure everybody can find that in our show notes, but quite easily it’s Australian loyalty association.com. So you’re not hard to find. So, so that’s pretty cool. And you mentioned to me as well, last time we spoke Sarah that you’re looking to move, I suppose, even beyond Australia, that there seems to be an appetite and an opportunity perhaps in Asia Pacific and for the association to grow. So I’d love to hear a bit more about that side of things.
Sarah Richardson

00:07:57
Well, ironically, polar COVID, which kept us locked up in Melbourne for longer than any other city in the world. And the people, people situated were actually as access accessible to us as those living next door. So our internet events naturally developed a much wider audience across Asia and our database expanded accordingly. In addition, a lot of our sponsors have offices in Asian markets. And so once on borders open up without restrictions, we’ll take the model that we have created and expand into certain aspects of the Asian market.
Sarah Richardson

00:08:39
So we’re in discussions at the moment with different organizations to see what that could look like. And we don’t want to lose our core. We call it the Australian water association, but it really is Australia and New Zealand. And we, yeah, we, we, we’re not exactly sure where it’s going to take us, but there are discussions happening at the moment.
Paula Thomas

00:08:58
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s super exciting. And I suppose from my perspective, I think I said to you as well already, you know, 10% of people listening to Let’s Talk Loyalty are in Australia itself. So I’m a huge fan of the work that goes on. They’re very sophisticated markets. I think last time you did reference, I suppose, your own background in direct marketing, which I always feel as a really good access point into, let’s say the accountability, measurability and importance of loyalty being, you know, I suppose to stand alone, profitable investment in its own. Right. And I do remember the story about you starting at dinner just to get together with some people.
Paula Thomas

00:09:39
So you definitely did share that same origin story with us. And so I’m excited, I suppose, for the future, as you hopefully do expand beyond your own borders. Tell us about the events you’re doing though this year, both in Australia and then internationally in terms of the virtual one, because I know that’s one that we’re going to be, I’ll certainly be looking forward to. So tell us a bit about that. Yeah. What’s planned for 2022, as things stand here at the beginning of April.
Sarah Richardson

00:10:07
Well, we holding a lot of events for individual sponsors this year. So it’s something that we’re, we’re trialing. It’s going really, really well. Sponsors are wanting to have just smaller events with their customers and prospects. So we’ve had some virtual ones. We had our first in-person one last week. And as well as that, we’re running our two large events. The first one is today on the 7th of April and that’s in Melbourne. And then we’ll run the same type of event in October in Sydney. And the theme of these events is NFTs and cryptocurrency and how they can be used within loyalty programs.
Sarah Richardson

00:10:52
So the year, which used to be in person, we put online two years ago and it’s actually become extremely successful. And it’s very likely that we’ll keep doing it. And this is the event that brought in a lot of international loyalty experts, not only from a speaker perspective, but also attendees. So we make a big splash with that event. We get eight loyalty experts, they speak proximately 20 minutes. We do live Q and A sessions. And so because of the virtual nature of it, we get experts from different industries, such as banking, retail airlines, and talking about different subjects.
Sarah Richardson

00:11:34
So this year we’re going to be talking about blockchain and crypto. And then if T’s, which is extremely popular as a subject in Australia at the moment when it comes to marketing, and also obviously the expanded use of first and zero party data sustainability ethics, which is particularly of interest to us here in Australia, we try and do everything we can at the ALA, make everything sustainable and to make sure that our ethics go across everything that we do. And we use a brilliant platform called trout columns, where we use gamification during the events we award great prizes throughout the day there’s virtual booths and areas for live questions and that sort suppose, et cetera.
Sarah Richardson

00:12:21
And we also send out goodie bags to everybody who attends with snacks during the day and even a cocktail. And for those of us who drink alcohol for the, the virtual networking that happens after the events. So we really try to make it something very special and it’s growing your own. And we’re very excited this year to,
Paula Thomas

00:12:43
And I remember how excited I was that my goodie bag arrived all the way from Australia in Dubai. So I think I’ve always complimented you on your wonderful attention to detail Sarah so well done. It really is an extraordinary event that you do. And just for people listening, I suppose, first of all, we’ll just remind everybody the date for the international virtual loyalty conference is the 25th of August. So plenty of time obviously to get tickets and for people who can’t attend live, Sarah, I presume that’s available on demand afterwards, as well as it.
Sarah Richardson

00:13:16
We only make it available on demand for those who have purchased a ticket as a whole. But what we do is we release each presentation every two weeks. So if you go to gain a website and sign up to the newsletter, you will receive access to one of those presentations. Every fortnight, there are some speakers who do not want us to release it to the wider audience, but most of them are very happy for that to happen.
Paula Thomas

00:13:45
Okay. Okay. Super exciting. And then I suppose the big topic of the day I’m most excited about is we are formalizing our plans to work together. And as you know, my goal, I suppose, for everyone listening is to be the world leader in audio content for the loyalty industry and to find that’s a full-time job. So pretty, yeah, pretty committed to that single app idea. And for me, I suppose, all I wanted to do was build the audience and given your extraordinary three and a half thousand members that you’ve already mentioned, we’re going to be doing some stuff together. So I suppose from my side really happy to announce it today for anyone listening, you’ve probably known I was already doing shows every Tuesday and every Thursday and they’ll continue.
Paula Thomas

00:14:31
And now every Wednesday I’m partnering with the Australian loyalty association every second week to create content that spoke geographically irrelevant. And again, you can send out then to your entire audience era and shares with people that are engaging with your content.
Sarah Richardson

00:14:47
Yeah. So happy that we can partner with you on this Paula, because the last thing we want to do is is anything audio related and you have such an amazing network and such an engaging interviewer. So we’re so excited to be able to feature everything that you do on our website and in the other channels that we use, we have just launched a content hub at the beginning of the year where individuals and organizations can submit articles, white papers, any type of written communication. And after being reviewed, these are going to be put up on our content hub. So we will have all of your content available on our website as well.
Sarah Richardson

00:15:32
And you, you have a growing audience already in.
Paula Thomas

00:15:33
Yeah. Yeah. And I do think your content hub is extraordinary. The fact that people can submit as, and when suits them, I think is a great concept. So definitely encourage everyone listening to, I suppose, take the opportunity to build their own brand and visibility in the industry by submitting content to you. And even from my side, I guess I’m always looking for new speakers and you guests. So if anybody listening either knows the brands that they would like to have, you know, as a guest on Let’s Talk Loyalty in the Asia Pacific region, please do reach out to me. It’s super easy and I’ll make sure again, there’s contact details for both myself and Sarah in the show notes so that we can encourage all of these contributions coming in from around the world.
Paula Thomas

00:16:19
So I think, I think that’s all the core details on our partnership side, Sarah, for me, I suppose I’m just thrilled to be formalizing this growing. I suppose, the audience for all of us, you know, I’m watching, for example, platforms like LinkedIn for, you know, have literally launched a new global podcast network. So from my side, I think there is a hunger and a demand for content in all shapes and forms. So when you said you weren’t planning to do audio, it certainly was music to my ears that we had an opportunity to, to plug in. And the only other piece I wanted to just make sure that people were aware of that we’re both involved in super exciting is the international loyalty awards coming up in June in London.
Paula Thomas

00:17:04
So tell me, are you super excited to be flying over to London to attend?
Sarah Richardson

00:17:09
Yeah, I really can’t wait. I haven’t seen my parents for what will be almost three years at that stage. And I get to meet people like yourself, who I’ve got to know very well over video conference and intend to have a very big party with you all in London. It’s going to be quite strange because when you do meet somebody after forming a relationship online and it’s quite old, is he almost anybody is he’s up for a wonderful party with loads of logs. He people definitely come and join us in London.
Paula Thomas

00:17:44
Absolutely. Yes. And a shout out to, I suppose, as well to our friends and the customer strategy network. So we’d be making sure to connect with all of those when we’re again, as you said, finally, in person in real life, IRL, I think is the acronym. So yeah, totally, totally excited to be getting back to normal and yeah. Putting on a party, frog, figuring out all those high heels shoes and all those fun things. So hopefully plenty of people listening will come and join us and come and say hi,
Sarah Richardson

00:18:11
You’ll have to let me know what color you’re wearing, Paula.
Paula Thomas

00:18:13
Okay. Okay. We’ll definitely have an offline conversation. I’m debating at the moment, this two hot contenders, but I’m excited. Brilliant stuff, Sarah. Well, listen, that’s all I suppose. I want you to go through today in terms of, you know, what we’re doing together. Let’s Talk Loyalty, Australian loyalty association, your ambitious growth plans, your events. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention for our audience before we wrap up?
Sarah Richardson

00:18:37
No, not at all. Just thanks a lot for the partnership Porter and look forward to working together this year.
Paula Thomas

00:18:43
Fantastic. Wonderful. So Sarah Richardson, advisory board chair of the Australian loyalty association. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Sarah Richardson

00:18:53
This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer. The world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing use insights and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 245 executives in 27 countries, a certified loyalty marketing professionals for more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.
Paula Thomas

00:19:27
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