Audio Transcript

#209: Loyalty & Awards Conference News for Travel Loyalty Professionals (43m)
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. This show is brought to you by the Loyalty & Awards conference, the leading annual event for loyalty professionals in the travel industry. Make sure to join us this year from the 10th to the 12th of October in Madrid for the perfect mix of inspiring content and exciting awards, check out Loyaltyandawards.com for more information and to register.
Paula Thomas

00:00:53
Hello and welcome to episode 209 of Let’s Talk Loyalty. As you just heard, the Loyalty & Awards conference is the largest annual conference for loyalty managers in the travel industry. So in today’s show, I’m excited to be chatting with Ravindra Bhagwanani, co-organizer of the event, which is now in its 18th year. Last October, the Loyalty & Awards conference took place in Dubai. And I absolutely loved it. So this year I’m supporting Ravindra and his team letting you know all about the plans for the conference in Madrid.
Paula Thomas

00:01:34
So if you work in loyalty in the travel industry, I hope you enjoy listening to the latest, exciting plans for the Loyalty & Awards 2022 conference in Madrid in October. So Ravindra. I am so happy to be talking to you today. How are you doing?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:01:56
Yeah, my pleasure so we look forward to our discussion. Obviously I’ve been following your sessions for a long time and yeah, very honored and very pleased that you have me today.
Paula Thomas

00:02:09
Wonderful. It absolutely is. And you’re joining us from France. Am I correct?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:02:13
I’m basically in Southern France. So already spring time, I understand in some other parts of the world, it’s still a bit colder, but yes, very nice location. So, so any, it’s not really helpful for loyalty, to be honest, because obviously we have Airbus and ATR and all the engineering stuff here. But if anyone listening to that stops by into Luiz, Seminole, and happy to meet over for coffee.
Paula Thomas

00:02:36
Ooh, I hope to take you up on that at some point of Ravindra. Very exciting. So listen, I’m dying to talk about your conference this year. That’s happening as we know in Madrid and October, but before we get into talking all about, I suppose, your entire career in loyalty and how the conference came about, tell me, first of all, you know, I’m very keen to understand, I suppose, the best loyalty programs for everybody on the show. I suppose more from a personal perspective, because I know professionally it’s hard to choose. There’s so many good ones, but do you have a favorite loyalty program at the moment of Ravindra?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:03:09
Well, that’s a very good question. And obviously a very often then when I talk to journalists, that’s the key question. People are going to ask knowing that via benchmark 220 programs out there. And so we really are really familiar with all of it all plugs. And I’m just talking about the frequent flyer programs plus obviously couple of hundred other programs in the travel industry. Well, you know, the easy answer is actually there is not really one favorite program because obviously a bit, some points are more engaged with them. He does this because they work for me personally, but it doesn’t mean it does mean that they really work for everybody. But if I look back to my, as you mentioned, I spent a while, I actually made my whole entire active life in a loyalty program.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:03:51
So spending over 26 years now because I created a global side company back in 96. So I think, I think these are the early days when, when programs started and, and I still am very fond of the British learned lady BMI program, which just had amazing what amazing value for, for members. I mean, I assume it didn’t work out financially for these guys, but from a customer perspective, if source grade and I mean, just for the younger generation, just imagine, I’m just imagine a business class, a return flight to the U.S. From Europe for 67,500 miles. I will never forget that. I mean, in many programs you use talking to get one way economy cost by today for this amount and yeah, that’s great value.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:04:37
So I understood obviously very early, it can not work from a commercial perspective for the operator, but that came in all the problems that didn’t have any financial setups and stuff like that. If it’s just a, really a customer tool and, and yeah, I was taking advantage of that.
Paula Thomas

00:04:51
Fantastic. Yeah. It’s a great insight for a vendor. I do really think, you know, we have to get that value proposition extremely compelling as we know for consumers, what of course the, the profitability has to stand up as well. So yes, it’s a shame. We can’t get those kinds of value redemptions these days, but anyway, hopefully somebody will come up with something similar at some point. But tell me,
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:05:14
Yeah, maybe, maybe just to come back to your parents, I think it’s a very fair point. And, and, you know, I think the one thing which VR bring to the table, obviously, I mean, we know how programs should work and, but you also know how customers take because you only, if you have a range of services at global slide, obviously, I mean, we do the conference, we do the consulting part, but we also work with end consumers. And I think this gives us, gives us a perfect picture, understanding of the business and, and be off, maybe talk to airlines while they have all the thinking about, you know, liability management and all that stuff. It’s just super important. But at the end of the day, I would say 80%. And that is maybe we can talk about that later. I think 80% of the programs are suffering today because they’re too much focused on internal perspectives and internal questions, which are not really relevant to the customer.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:06:02
Honestly. I mean, whether you spin-off your program over, you do a data evaluation, certain points, it has no meaning whatsoever for, for the end consumer. And the question is really today, how are we engaging consumers? And I think that’s something which we’re bringing to the table that we see both sides of the, of the, of the market. We bring this to a table of balls in our consulting war, but also it reflects afterwards at the conference because we not only, we’re not only talking, talking about the DVT, the operator side, but we really trying to open the eyes for the wider picture. And that is unfortunately something which, which has been got lost board law over the last decade, I would say,
Paula Thomas

00:06:43
Wow, that’s a very interesting perspective. Rabindra and I didn’t know you had any work on the consumer side. What kind of work is it that you’re doing in that way?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:06:52
Listen, BBB do two things. I mean, we work really bit the typical end consumer with frequent flyers. Maybe just helping them really to get to a fly programs, analyzing their profile on a, on a highly precise basis and be telling them okay, best for them for you. It’s program a, a program B because you know, too often salespeople are in the mindset. Okay, I’m flying on Emirates to take a local example for you. And I, I need to be measured Emirates, both have to have partnerships with 10 out of 10 or 12 other airlines like anybody in your lines. And maybe it works better for somebody to be in a jet poo program, still continuing to fly on an Emirates.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:07:32
But because the jet blue program is almost as toxic completely differently than the emulates program. And it just makes sense to play around with these partnerships. And that’s a Proust as allies, which we are, which are carrying out flyers. So, which gives us a really good understanding, obviously how people really think. And honestly, the majority of people, yes. If the fleet flies, obviously they won’t have any benefits and stuff like that, but they really, they, they, they do not discuss okay about the same things as airlines. And, and I think that is, again, something very important because we do have, as an industry view, we do have customer facing tools. So please adjust them to the customer and not, and not to your, to your financial department or anything like that.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:08:14
Yes, we need, again, we need to expect all that, all this needs to be taken into account, but we definitely need a vital understanding of what we’re talking about here.
Paula Thomas

00:08:21
Yeah. I totally agree. Ravindra. So yeah, the more customer love actually to use a strong word, I would say I had Fred Reichheld on the show there just before Christmas. And you know, many listeners would know him as the inventor of net promoter score. And I couldn’t believe how often the word love came up in that business conversation. And that’s exactly what I’m hearing is missing from what you’re seeing, if the customer perspective and the value proposition is only being driven by the financial perspective. Now, as you said in the last decade that Sam that’s disappointing.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:08:54
Oh, because I mean, he’s fully, right? Because you don’t be talking about, well, I call it cost-relationship, call it, whatever you call it, but the word relationship comes up in there and your relationship is very close to love. So, so, so I fully agree and, you know, I always say, well, if it’s a relationship tool, you just look at your personal life, how you treat your, your, your spells or whatever. And if you apply some of these techniques in your loyalty program, while we would all be box Federoff, but unfortunately today the programs do too little at that level. But I think at the end of the day via getting back to that because we are competitive and, and yeah, and somebody who’s doing things better than others, they, they definitely, they, they, they managed to engage customers better than others.
Paula Thomas

00:09:39
Yeah. Yeah. And I’m intrigued to figure out or to ask you Rabindra how on earth did you get into loyalty? I saw that you did a degree in engineering.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:09:49
Yes. Yes. I mean, I didn’t, I’m a degree. I don’t know where everybody saw that. Actually. I didn’t know that all this information is so public on LinkedIn. Okay. Fine. So, so basically what I did, I, yes, I started aeronautical engineering and all that you do in messenger. What’s much more interesting in the marketing side. So I kind of mix, I got an engineering engineer degree, but I’ve also actually much closer to all the way to the marketing side. And, as such, I was always interested in combining both things. And then how I got into Deloitte program as well.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:10:28
It was a post the story actually, well, first it started out my studying. I mean, I’m, I’m a spring sport and saw my parents were in Switzerland. I started in Berlin and I did one in Toulouse. I was flying a little bit around in Europe and this was back in, I think, 19 92 93, when the program started in Europe at one point, my father, Hey, next time you fly in from Berlin to Zurich, you should enroll in the mass more broken because the launch for comedy central, et cetera. So I think that’s the first time that I really heard about these programs. And he said, no, because he had offered so much because he got some with, with a friend bulldozer miles from that. So he had a personal interest and to, okay, so I just covered that.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:11:07
And then after my studies, I, I was looking for job and I was opening onto a tool to work worldwide and Alan cetera. At one point I got in, I got invited by Emma Cole and David trusting the prelaunch phases and they wanted to see me for an interview. So I flew on the cheapest airfare ticket, which I could get from, from Berlin to, to Hong Kong. And I earned on that trip because I think I was a new member. So I got involved in boards and stuff like that. I earned on that trip at really cheap economy fare 19,300 miles, which were enough for free flights within Europe and a free flight. At that time.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:11:47
It didn’t mean that you had to spend hundreds of you as a taxi. It was really, it was really free. And that’s why I said, Hey, there’s some value these programs. I probably, I understood that something economy cannot work if for cheaper, a ticket to Hong Kong, you get a free flight and you up. But yeah, I mean, I, that’s just, that’s just how I got home a hookup at a personal level, understanding as a business. And then while I discovered as Randy Peterson, the US are doing, doing some great stuff around the topic, he was obviously all already active. And so there’s no, there’s nobody reading you up taking care of that topic. And because all the programs didn’t in Europe, they’re, they’re launching a 92 93.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:12:28
So it was still a pretty new topic. And Hey, well, it will be great opportunity to position exactly. But he maintained over 26 years. So to, to position both on the consumer side and on the, on the operator side, when I said, you know, I was young, I was 26 when I created global side, this I’m not credible. I’m not credible. If, if today, if I’m going to say, I know how to design programs, I have no experience and nothing. So I gave myself two years to work on the consumer side, which is, let’s say it’s more an analytical work than really an intellectual challenge. So I build up the business as a one man show on the consumer side.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:13:08
And after two years while I started to, to go to airlines and, and yeah, I mean, Dave, we’re interested obviously in, in having such a resource, it’s such a knowledgeable resource and that’s how it started. I grew into the internal consulting business. So it was really a long journey. And, and yes, well, now, now, as I’m just talking about that right now, actually you maybe hear my voice, that I’m getting a bit sad because I remember my first business trip. We never worked together. And I mean, usually we do not disclose any customers, but the first business to available device, he was actually to Kyiv, to Ukraine, international airlines. And, and so, you know, that’s, that’s just how life is.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:13:49
I mean, everything comes together at one point. And, but I remember, you know, again, we didn’t get any business out of that trip, but he, you know, how amazed it was at the, at the age of 28 to be invited by a carrier, it’d be invited business class ticket on a great service. I mean, they, they still had a great service at that time, et cetera. So it was just a great feeding and, and they did everything took off very, very quickly. And it was only, only another six years later in 2004 that I really got into conference business. So it must be building up naturally. So again, did a B2C business to B, to B business. And then out of the B2B business, while I was contacted by some persons ask about this to any confidence in the loyalty business.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:14:33
And this has no that there’s all that. Then we started the whole thing. And so, yeah, now everything makes sense. If you hear a story 20 years later, you will own the moment. Obviously you had to understand, okay, you didn’t know, is it an opportunity to north, but, but everything, everything builds up nicely as indeed. Yes,
Paula Thomas

00:14:52
Yes. Yeah, no, it does. It sounds like a perfectly planned career identifying the opportunities and, you know, making sure to go after and chase them and build your reputation. But yes, in the moment it always feels like, okay, let’s try, might be risky. Don’t know if it’ll work, but I know for the conference specifically, I think we’re coming up to the 18th one this year. If I’m right for Ventura,
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:15:13
It must be, must be the seventies or eighties. Well, I think it’s a, is it something like that? Yeah. I stopped counting because I’ll basically in my conference career. So I had to basically switch steps my conference career. So, so again, all of us keeping in mind, it is, it is not our main business. And until now it is not our main business. So it’s of all this society activity. So I, I partnered initially we two different companies first with added information. So, so, so credits to my, to my former friends at the company, because they, they rented the conference business and we really religious disloyalty loyalty conference initially on the name of FFP, we launched it for four years with, with them.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:15:55
And then at one point while the event grew nevertheless, pretty considerably. So I failed that first move to, to move to a different partner. I T I teamed up with bitter flight global. So obviously which led to a lot of confusion because we are global slide, they are flat global. So the publisher notably off the airline business magazine. And so again, obviously, I mean, there were some business connections because I vaguely wrote for the airline business magazine. So there were some, some connections there and then they grew the conference business and we just took the whole thing to a much more professional level. And so I was running the conference for 10 years in a, in a joint venture set up with them meeting. Basically these guys, they, they took care of everything which was operational marketing, et cetera.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:16:41
And I was kind of the guy for the agenda and giving the credibility because obviously I knew what was going on in loyalty industry. And, and you’ve go all these since the beginning, we moved positioning. We, we both partners. And, and even now as we do the conference on under our own structure, all this position, positioning the event as obviously not really a fully commercial event, but video is something where we focused very much on content. So, so one of the, one of the topics or the themes, which you’re having at the conference and which is all this, it leads to discussions each year, understandably, but basically with a few exceptions, we do not put any suppliers on the agenda.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:17:22
Show me, show me any other industry event where this is the case. Usually say, well, I’m paying you $10,000 and buying some, some seals of the package. And I’m getting on the agenda. That is the usual useless setup of commercial conference. And we don’t find that you really won’t be really warmed is set up that people are coming each year because of the content. And yes, of course you have suppliers there and a decade that all that is fair enough, but via not setting something that people say, okay, maybe they come lawns because we do a good, there’s no value just conference. We are not coming back. And that’s the only reason that by after 18 years, we are still there actually.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:18:02
And, and so this is the main thing. Well, we stopped the cooperation with flight global in 2018 and in 2019. So I build up my own team. We have an event manager. And, and so since 2019, we’ve been running the event, our, our own, our own name, and we burned it into the current Loyalty & Awards, loyalty rewards, bond funds.
Paula Thomas

00:18:26
Yeah. And it is a wonderful team of Indra. So yeah, we’ll give a shout out to your team. They’re doing a fantastic job. So I’m very impressed and exactly to your point. And I’m not just saying this because you just said it, but I was lucky enough obviously, to attend the conference here in October last year. So I had considered going the previous year. I think you’d reached out to me and Dubai to Vancouver was, was, it was quite difficult for me to justify again, you know, I’m a one-woman show, so it’s a, it’s a long way to go. And I didn’t actually know really about the conference and I was only starting podcasting. So it probably didn’t have the same global network back in 2020 or 2019, I think even at that stage, but certainly in Dubai last year, it was the quality of the content that convinced me that wherever it’s happening in 2022, I’m coming.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:19:17
Okay. That sounds good. Thank you very much. I think we may have been a bit unlucky in 2020, but we went to Vancouver because it’s probably the only major city in the rules that Emirates doesn’t fly to. So, so good news is the 22. We will be at a destination. It’s a, it’s a six hour flight away from Dubai. So we’ll be, we’ll be in Madrid and we look forward to having you there.
Paula Thomas

00:19:43
Oh, it’s super exciting. So, I mean, we’re in April now, or then Dre, so quite early, I guess, in terms of you planning the content and the schedule, but for anyone listening, I suppose, bearing in mind that there’s a lot of people in loyalty in the US the UK and Australia, and not just actually in travel loyalty, although your conference definitely is focused on travel loyalty, but what would you say are the key kind of topics that you’re expecting to come up in Madrid this year?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:20:11
So, so just to, to be friends with that version, just two wheels for everybody. So we did the conference, as Paula mentioned in, in Dubai, in October, 2021. So it was really in the middle at the end of whatever, eh, pandemic. So we manage that. We had to promise from the beginning that we make it a hundred percent live event. So we delivered on the, on that format. So just be sure that we will be doing something, obviously even, even a bigger and better in, in Madrid. So we understand that the advice now, I mean, there are still obviously restrictions and discussion of COVID is not completely over. So we’ll, we’ll be definitely managing that IMiD rate.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:20:52
If you mentioned 21 in, in, in Dubai, we, we will do it everywhere. And, and yes, it’s all we be looking at really turning the COVID page because we, in Dubai, we had, nevertheless, if you had a positive forward-looking agenda, but we had never asked obviously 30 or 40% of topics, which were touching on COVID and we really turn that page and looking forward. So we see some signs form for people coming out stronger off that, of that pandemic. They had some time, some time maybe to refocus on things. And, and I think we’ll be reflecting some, some new interesting ideas, how to, how to strengthen the program further, how to take them to the next level.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:21:34
It’s, you know, it’s a continuous journey. And, and as all this bill be looking at the right mix of let’s say trends like, you know, like sustaining sustainability, just to mention one topic, which was already a image topic, which we had in, in a way, of course, new technologies and, and just really to give a wide redivide frame, a wide perspective of the topic to anybody involved in the, in the, in the travel industry. So we are not, we are not Constance for financial experts or for CRM experts or anything like that. It’d be really conference for anybody involved in, in loyalty, looking at the topics from again, from practical case studies presented by airlines and hotels to, to, to, to really cover the whole topic.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:22:23
So some of the confirmed speakers, then I just invite you to, to discover on the loyalty rewards.com website, the first agenda, which is still evolving. But if you already have a couple of confirmed speakers from companies like United alcohol, Caribbean airlines, miles to name just a few. So, so we definitely looking forward to having a good setup of, of people worldwide, again, of worldwide event, as you mentioned. So the only do one event a year, but it is via what 18 locations <inaudible> continents. So, so DC a completed, there will be no, no event in the Americas, but if you really want to, to attend this, I think we just leading event in the, in, in the travel industry, please make a demand rate because otherwise you will be missing out on a, on a great opportunity in 22.
Paula Thomas

00:23:15
Yeah. Yes, you’re absolutely right. And actually one of the, well, one of the things I suppose I really did respect last year of vendor, was that commitment that you gave that the conference was going to go ahead 100% live. And of course you had to plan it in, I guess, you know, even late 20, 20, like 12 months out, maybe in order to get the venue organized for us and, you know, going through the worst of the COVID pandemic and still pulling it off, I thought that was a very brave of you because there’s no other conference. I think certainly that I’ve been to in the last 12 months. So it was a big decision for you and I’m worked super well.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:23:54
Oh, well, thank you. And I think while it’s kind of the commitment, the old to the industry, I mean, we did our last event in February, the previous event in February, 2020 in Vancouver. And if I survived at that beginning at the beginning of the pandemic when we had the first cases appear, we need to leave and in New York, et cetera. So literally we were all onsite and, and everything was started to shut down on it. And so I remember we sat down with the team the day of the conference and we said, okay, well, what’s going to happen. And we said, we said on that day after the conference, because the February staff has all, so since the beginning, it was our traditional slots for the conference. And obviously, I mean, if you remember the situation back in February, 2020, everyone said, well, look, it’s going to last maybe three rounds and things will be better.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:24:39
And we said, okay, well, listen, there’s, there’s no surge of what’s going to happen via postponing the event to October. So that which gives us the 19 month span between both events. We signed to venue in April, but we everywhere. Everything was starting on April 20. We signed a venue in Dubai, which was more of a new property. So, so they haven’t opened up, they delayed office to opening because of COVID. But obviously we still had some, some arching. So you will find from that perspective, but yes, it was, it was maybe if I was brave, but, but then again, I mean, <inaudible> to support from, from Dubai, which was amazing as destination able to, to pull this through.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:25:22
And well, honestly, I’m not making any secret, but VB didn’t make any commercial profit out of that. Vanessa, obviously it is not productive for us as well. I mean, that’s normally our business and we need to make some profit out of that. You didn’t do that in Dubai, but it was really the, the objective of say, Hey guys, if you’re here, if you’re committed to this industry. And so if you are not some opportunistic concert organizers and just blowing, but it’s just turning by the wind blows. That’s not our philosophy because again, and that’s, that’s why I really want to stress at the beginning, VR, not a VR, not a commercial or concert organized via loyalty people. And I think everything we’ll be doing at event, that’s what people are feeling and that’s why they feeling okay.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:26:05
That is a difference. And not say that all our events are bullshit and not at all, but there is in terms of engagement, et cetera, there is a difference if you have somebody really engaged in the topic or if it’s a, if it’s, if it pushes a wild or some commercial objectives.
Paula Thomas

00:26:19
Yes. Yeah. And I often use the word integrity Ravindra in terms of, you know, how the loyalty business and how loyalty programs I think need to be run. And that’s what I’m hearing coming through in terms of, you know, you going ahead without conference. And actually to me, there was almost a, you know, an energy of like, we were so excited. I think everybody to be back together again, like it was, it was hard, you know, like everybody was just so thrilled. So the joy of human connection, and particularly as you said, when there’s a topic that everyone’s so passionate about, that definitely came through and the quality of the people there, I guess as well, it’s, it’s senior people, they’re big conversations, they’re big ideas that are being discussed.
Paula Thomas

00:27:01
So definitely very rewarding. So, so I hope from that perspective, at least you are happy with how everything went into bio last year.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:27:08
Oh no, no. I mean, if you absolutely happy and I think he was amazing, obviously we didn’t get too many people from Asia because they seem to come off travel and it may risk being actually same in and in Madrid in October. So if things continue like that, but, but you know what I mean, we have people from Hawaii coming. If you had obviously local people come and leave us just amazing how well, at least the part of the, of the industry really responded to that, to that opportunity. And for anybody who was a local, I think it was the first long haul trip day did according to ourselves since, I mean, since, since, since everything started and I mean, people are just so happy to, to get out again. And yes, I think the Viva, obviously a smaller group of a hundred, I think 165 people smaller group than at previous events, although we’ll be bigger actually in Vancouver, because again, in Vancouver, in February, 2020, we were already hit by, by, by the COVID Asia.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:27:58
So when we selected initially Vancouver or see positioning Vancouver as a Pacific hub and what it is while I did, obviously everything from Asia, it broke up brokers all over the way. So we’ve actually do buy all the few more people than in Vancouver, but still be AR VR lower than our usual Vegas. But those people who were there, which is still a good turnout, I think they, well, it was so much community building there. I think it was a very, very strong feeling. And I wouldn’t expect that most of these people actually, they will be coming back to Madrid and, and, and yeah, and that’s just, I think the biggest reward you can get, if you see people. And honestly, all the, obviously I do the commercial figures, which were not great.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:28:41
I was supposed to have us at the team. We were so happy that we pulled into and swinging the, seeing these happy faces, you know, that’s a, that is something which, which of our money can’t buy. And, and then, and I think, well, as you said, it gave us credibility in industry and, and yes, we be trying to, to apply some, some, some values like integrity central to our business. And, and if this transpires in such actions well, even better.
Paula Thomas

00:29:08
Yeah, for sure. And I remember you sending me an email when you got your PCR tests so that you knew you could fly and it hadn’t even occurred to me that if you didn’t show up, I don’t know what the rest of us would have done. You know,
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:29:19
I’m like, fuck. I mean, you know, because traveling, it became a, it still is partially so difficult that people don’t use that anymore. That it happened. I know that you remember, if you had fun delegates male friends, she called me basically on, on, on the first day, I forgot to accept my passport. I can’t make it because something which would never have happened before, because that’s the food thing, the industry, you, you keep an eye on the, on the, on the validation of your passport. It never happens that the passport expires and you’ll do this for six because people didn’t tell anymore. And then while all these PCR tests and whatever, I mean a nightmare. So We’ll be, we’ll be better at that level by, by, by October, by four motivated.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:30:03
That’s for sure. But yes. I mean, again, it was experienced automates. It was a different experience than from usually events. But even without that, that, that COVID factor. I can be sure you, because he was your first event attended, but even previous events, I mean, this, this team build experience is central. Our, is this, this family spirit, it’s, it’s really, it’s really characterizing, characterizing our way events.
Paula Thomas

00:30:26
Yeah. It’s very, very special. And we talked about the content a little bit Rabindra and again, it’s early days, I guess, in April. So definitely we’ll make sure to link to the Loyalty & Awards websites so people can stay up to date. And I know people can opt in to your email newsletter and, you know, be kept up to date on the agenda so they can see what kind of speakers are coming Pru. But then talk to us about the awards side. You’ve got your golden loyalty awards, which it also was incredibly exciting last year with a gala dinner. So tell us exactly how that whole awards part of the event is working now.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:31:02
Yes, correct. So is this a divorce again, this has been into a part of the event of all for at least 10 years. I mean, we started with flight global, if not more and did wards, it’s actually a dangerous thing. So anybody attending event can basically nominate their own program in, in the nomination process, which has all died on the website by, by, by mid August in four different categories. And so we not to be a, not again, they’re not afraid he is giving all the dozens of awards, but about VVF main categories and everybody is nominating it’s all program, particularly innovation, which they realized in the, in the current year.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:31:44
So if you’re looking at current developments and then what is interesting about divorce and the game, which makes different waters, if you have a job to depend on industry professionals. So we have other loyalty, loyalty executives on the, on the judging panel. And so they really look at that at a very practical, from a very practical perspective, comparing obviously to their own experience and selecting the winner on the, on, on that basis. And, and then, yes, obviously we have, we have those for happiness and which will be announced at the event on this. Are we not making any pre-announcement, this is central and, and yes, I think the awards each year, they are gaining a lot of credibility and because it’s really via, yes, we do have to Freddie awards as the automator industry award, which I fully respect, I think there may be a bit too many categories and too many votes in general.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:32:36
So it, it never happens to our event that somebody is going home with eight awards because you only have only four in total. But besides that, I mean, the what’s obviously a consumer award, which is super important and be on industry award. So via touch by fellow loyalty professionals. And I think this makes it different. I’m not saying more or less valuable for the winners, but it certainly gives them a different kind of value proposition than what they would get from the, from the fruity awards.
Paula Thomas

00:33:05
Yeah, yeah, no, it was, I remember how exciting it was. And I was sitting at with Derek Whitworth actually from air Canada when he one, you know, just the sheer joy and he was bringing Canada and sharing it with the team. So yeah, there was a very special atmosphere. So yeah, looking forward to seeing how that goes again this year in Madrid. So I think, what did we say, hopefully you’ll have about 250 delegates. Is that what you’re hoping for this
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:33:33
Year?
Paula Thomas

00:33:33
Yeah. Yeah. So 250 delegates two and a half days. And I hadn’t realized actually I saw on your marketing as well. Madrid is the second largest city in Europe or in the EU. So I hope my terminology is correct there. So certainly there’s plenty of opportunity for, I suppose, admiring the city. I know you do dedicate and sometime for, you know, I suppose some social activity as well to be culturally sensitive. So I’m sure you’ll be doing that as well again, this year in Madrid with you.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:34:03
Correct. So first of all, thank you Brexit. Otherwise it will be only number three, I guess, but yes, that’s exactly. I mean, so we starting traditionally on Monday at noon DVB the keynote presentation, and then afterwards, via waking for the footy so-called social activities. So what is that? So we are splitting up the group into, into three smaller groups, which are taken to, to some kind of a locally influenced activity. So as we are recording this, now we have not yet finalized that selection, but I think during April, we will be publishing that on the website.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:34:43
So usually some, some exciting activities <inaudible> by themselves. So I, I mean, in, in, in Dubai, we to pay people to the desert and <inaudible> some local starch and expect something similar in, in Madrid. And the opportunity here is really well. The, the objective is really to create some pre-conference team building because we always have some new people to the event, which may feel a bit lost because, you know, you get to cocktail reception, you see this big family, everybody’s talking to everybody and you come in as new comedy. You, you do not know a lot of people maybe, and that’s always a bit hard. So we do this ice breaker activity that you’re in a completely relaxed atmosphere, a small group, everybody talks to everybody and you make your first, you make your first friends there, which really helps for the rest of the, for the rest of the land.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:35:33
And, and yes, I mean, even your, for sponsors, these also activities that can also be sponsored by, by sponsors. It’s just a different age. It’s just a different setup tool to make business and to talk business. I mean, at the end of the day, yes, it’s a business event. You don’t go in there for fun. Everybody wants to make business operators and suppliers alike, but we just trying to set it up in the invite framework to make it a well, to make it less pushy and provide value to everybody. And, and, and the thing, these social activities, they, they help people also to memorize the event because otherwise if you two days in a hotel, it doesn’t matter whether it’s nice or not, but above all, you do not remember too much about what’s going on outside.
Paula Thomas

00:36:18
Yes. Yeah, no, I do think it’s an important part of the program. And again, even though I live in Dubai, I really enjoyed the cultural events that I did because I hadn’t been to the particular museum and the shake Mohammed center for cultural understanding in fact was the one that I chose last year. So it was the perfect opportunity for me to see my own city. So I’m definitely looking forward to that part of Madrid as well. So yeah. So then two and a half days in total, as you said, so there’ll probably be an evening reception again, I guess on the Monday and then full content on Tuesday and Wednesday, is that right?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:36:51
W almost on, on what’s on Wednesday, on Monday after sort activities, we just had a welcome reception and people afterwards to organize to own dinners. So often they have suppliers, sponsors inviting the clients, et cetera. And then on Tuesday we have a full day with the gala dinner as part of the conference in the, in the evening.
Paula Thomas

00:37:11
Wonderful. Wow. Well, listen, it’s still quite a few months away Ravindra, but I know your website is very active and I know you do have a nice offer with your partners at core. Do you want to tell us about that?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:37:24
You have all, if you, if you allow me to make such good publicity, I’m happy to talk about that. So <inaudible> for a couple of years as official hotel partner, and as part of the deal, I’ll call puts it out with disposal, quite a big number of anchor points off of the old program, which are really valuable because you really use these points as cash. And you have now an offer going on until the end of April. So obviously we have our low early bird rates. So starting at the 299 euros for, for airlines and partners, which, which again, even does not cover our costs, but, but obviously Livia, they’re not looking to make money out of airlines in difficult situations.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:38:06
So it’s, it’s a really good way for attending the conference. Plus anybody registering by, by the end of April, we’ll be entered into a vice show to win an amazing amount of 40,000 old points. So all those who may not be familiar with the currency 40,000 old points is really translates into a credit of 800 yours, which you can use it at any ACO property. Obviously you can use it in medrate at the conference venue, or you use it just to take your family to a, to a nice weekend. Well, the next week, actually for that amount.
Paula Thomas

00:38:38
Yes. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s very exciting times for vendor. As I said, I’m really looking forward to it. And I already had a bitty busy year, but when you did announce it, I know I was hoping for Dublin. So you’ll forgive me. If I occasionally remind you that Ireland is a great place for a conference. I feel that’s an important thing to mention, just to be patriotic Bush. Yes. I do love mainland Europe and the account way to get to Madrid. So that’s all the questions I had, I guess, from my side. Rabindra. Was there anything else that you wanted to mention for listeners of Let’s Talk Loyalty?
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:39:10
Well, I think it’s just to, to come back to your last boy in the VR VR, very grateful for any feedback, we are getting a, the more or less in a jog manner about Dublin as a venue or anything else. So this is really an event which we are doing for you guys. So any feedback, a beat in terms of a desire for location beach, in terms of content, suggesting any speaker, whatever via really open pool to talk to everybody. And because you’re all part of the family just to, to justify the Dublin, while you should talk to alcohol, because you have the partnership with Arco and they simply do not have a property in a decent size in Dublin. That’s why, unfortunately, we had to double it.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:39:50
I first had never been to Dublin with managers. You see, she has been there, she lost it. So I think it will be a great place. It’s also activities. I mean, I don’t to imagine too much what this also gives you talk like there. Yes. I mean, I think one day such things will be possible as well, but then all kidding aside. So I think we lost message from my side to see you guys there. If there’s anything we can do, feel free to reach out to us. We all their openness and yeah, we want to make this a great event and you can only make it a great way, what we shouldn’t use to do. We’re making something great. I think anymore, that’s something somebody else you will start at a term too much, but we really won’t have a nice, a nice event.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:40:33
And you can only make it, make it a success together with you with the support of people like yourself, Paul off the things again very much for, for your partnership. So he’s looking forward to working with you between now and event to interview it out there. And, and there’s obviously some great content, et cetera. So, so we, we all work towards the same objective
Paula Thomas

00:40:52
On that note, Ravindra Bhagwanani, managing director of Global Flight and the host of the Loyalty & Awards conference in Madrid. Thank you so much. Let’s talk loyalty.
Ravindra Bhagwanani

00:41:03
Pleasure. Thank you, Paula.
Paula Thomas

00:41:04
This show is brought to you by the Australian Loyalty Association, the leading organization for loyalty, networking and education in Asia Pacific, their international virtual loyalty conference will take place on the 25th of August, 2020 to register now to hear global experts discuss current trends in loyalty marketing, there will be fantastic networking opportunities, questions and answers, gamification and great prizes to be one. Visit Australianloyaltyassociation.com to find out more.
Paula Thomas

00:41:46
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty newsletter on LetsTalkLoyalty.com. We’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms. And of course we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting this show.