#540: Canadian Automobile Association Shares the Power of Membership Mindset

This episode is also available in video format on www.Loyalty.TV.

Today’s interview features a return guest, Steve Allmen, EVP of Strategy and Partnerships with the Canadian Automobile Association.

Steve joins us on Loyalty TV to explain how global “roadside assistance” organisations around the world are evolving in 2024.

He also shares how the “Canadian Automobile Association” obsesses about creating value for its members, whether they are drivers or not!

While many of us as loyalty professionals rely on “earn and burn” loyalty models to drive engagement, their “membership mindset” creates new opportunities for growth that are fascinating for us all!

Listen to enjoy my conversation with Steve Allmen.

Show notes:

1) Steve Allmen

2) Canadian Automobile Association

3) LTL #306: Canada’s Changing Loyalty Market & Canadian Automobile Association Insights

4) Watch the full interview at www.Loyalty.TV

Audio Transcript

Paula: 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. 

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Hello and welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. Today’s interview features Steve Allmen, EVP of Strategy and Partnerships with the Canadian Automobile Association. Steve joined us on Let’s Talk Loyalty back in November 2022 and shared some incredible insights on the loyalty landscape in Canada. Which I personally learned so much from. Today, I wanted Steve to join us on Loyalty TV to help explain the evolution of how the CAA thinks about its members, and also to share some global perspectives on how other roadside assistance programs around the world are evolving.

While many of you listening, of course, rely on earn and burn models to drive engagement. Nonetheless, the loyalty mindset that the CAA relies on for growth is one that will be fascinating for us all. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Steve Allmen.

So Steve Allmen, welcome back to Let’s Talk Loyalty and welcome to Loyalty TV. 

Steve: Thank you, Paula. Great to be here. 

Paula: It’s always a joy, Steve, I know you are doing some incredible work in Canada this time, even more so than last time. So we have a bunch of topics to get into all around member value. All of the propositions that you’ve been evolving in the last couple of years.

There’s just so much going on that I really want to pick your brains on, to be honest. And so love doing all of this. So before we get into all of the updates for the CAA and everything you’ve been working on Steve, as you know, we start the show always with our favorite loyalty question. And I know last time you talked about Aeroplan from Air Canada, but times have changed, things have moved on.

So here we are, May, 2024. Please do tell our audience, what is your current favorite loyalty program? 

Steve: Yeah, thanks, Paula, and listen, the Aeroplan is still near and dear to my heart because I’m on planes a lot. But because I’m on planes a lot, I’m also in a lot of hotels. So I am a Bonvoy Gold, soon to be Bonvoy Platinum.

I love where they’re going with the program. I was a Starwood Preferred guy before, and so now being part of the Marriott Bonvoy program has been great for me. Everything from surprise and delight, room upgrades to, you know, if there’s a problem, there’s always a solution from a concierge or somebody else.

So, when you travel as much as we do, and I’m sure you do as well. You want a good pillow. You want to make sure that you’ve got the right room and getting a little bit of a gift every once in a while is kind of nice. So being acknowledged for your loyalty, doing all those things, they’ve done a really good job with the program.

And quite honestly, it’s whether you’re at their top tier or at their mid tier or even entry level they still really start with loyalty and work their way through. So. I’m pretty loyal. I’d make sure all of our corporate bookings as much as I can influence are at Marriott properties. So, love where they’re going and happy to be part of the program.

Paula: That’s brilliant, Steve. Yes. I’ve shared on the show here as well, that certainly in this market, they’ve done a great job with the co-brand proposition. And they have great partnerships, of course, with with Emirates Skywards and plenty of other folks, of course. But what amused me was my own behavior as soon as I saw the strength of the value proposition for the credit card particularly because they were giving essentially enough points for two nights in my favorite hotel with the kind of signing on bonus. So I got my husband to sign up, I signed up and I was monitoring his behavior to make sure that actually we got that redemption reward. So also a big fan of Bonvoy. So listen, we’re totally aligned. Good to hear that Aeroplan is still doing some great work because you know, I know you’ve worked so many of the fantastic loyalty organizations in Canada, and that actually might be a good place to to start this conversation, Steve.

As I said, it was November, 2022. You gave us a masterclass in everything that’s happening in what I think is a very mature loyalty market, and there’s probably a lot has changed since that conversation. So would you kick us off by giving us a sense of a few of the updates in terms of what’s going on there?

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s never a dull day as you and I have talked before and the Canadian market continues to be a dynamic and it’s shifting. I think we’re seeing a couple of things right now. Number one is, you know, the continued strength of the big programs. You’ve got the strength of the Scene Plus program, which has done a great job, sort of expanding themselves across traditional retail loyalty credit card.

Financial services, et cetera. But also grocery you’ve got some other programs, another grocery chain, the Metro Chain, which was part of the air miles coalition program is expanding their proprietary loyalty program. You’re also seeing a continued push from the financial institutions to dip their toes into not just their own credit card value proposition, but, retail loyalty. We have a strong relationship with the Bank of Montreal because of a Shell partnership. They’re doing a cents per liter right across the board right now. And, you know, with the price of fuel, maybe not in all parts of the world, but certainly in Canada, high price of fuel, we’re seeing a lot of entries into the you know, the sort of fuel space we’re saying link loyalty and link loyalty is quite interesting because it’s not just the linking of credit card and network to behavior, but it’s actually linking of big programs to big programs.

The most recent one in the Canadian marketplace is Petro Canada’s program, which is Petro points, very large fuel retailer, national and scope has actually integrated and link their program to the Canadian tire program. I don’t know the Petro Points number specifically, but let’s call it, you know, north of 3 million Canadian tire triangle, which is a very large retailer in Canada that has credit card fuel sporting goods other retail banners within their umbrella have linked and they’re rebranding pumps.

They’re doing a whole bunch of different things, but you actually link your program. So you’re now you’re earning both programs. When you fill up with fuel, you’re in petrol points and triangle. So it’s interesting to see these large programs kind of mushing themselves together. I don’t know how else to describe it, obviously great value proposition for the member, unbelievable data opportunities for both programs, but then you’ve got the linkage on financial services.

So we’re seeing a lot of continued shifts. And as people start to realize they’ve got a lot of cards in their wallet. People are making decisions on what is their primary program. You asked me, what’s my favorite loyalty program? Most consumers say, I want to get free groceries. I want to get free gas.

I want to get a trip, whatever it could be. So if you’re giving the consumer the choice, it’s interesting. The other one that I’ll flag is it’s just because it’s a massive pivot. You know, after 30 plus years, the Air Miles program in Canada has gone through some bumps in the road. I think is the easiest way to describe it.

They’ve lost their major grocery partners, so they’ve pivoted to and they’re doing receipt scanning now, they’re doing some really interesting linking through to product purchases at a number of different grocery chains. So what they’re saying to consumers is stay with us. You’ll get lots of ways to earn and you’re not bound to one retailer.

You can actually go to multiple retailers. So, the media and the press within the industry, the jury’s still out a little bit on where that’s going to be. I think I said before, we need strong programs like Air Miles in Canada, and I continue to believe that we do. So we’ll see where it goes.

I’m quite enthusiastic and sometimes you just sit on the sidelines and eat your popcorn and watch what’s going on in the industry. So lots of noise, lots of information. I know The Wise Marketer guys that Aaron and Bill always talk about big coalition. And so always changes and it’s very interesting market right now.

Paula: It totally is. And I remember saying actually in our last conversation, Steve, that I couldn’t wait for this one, so I’m already thinking the same. I can’t wait for the next one because you always give us the real inside track. So there you go. So, so brilliant to hear. And yeah, fair play to Air Miles, I will say.

You know, it’s certainly very well known that they have been through, as you said, a bumpy journey. So interesting to see how they’re solving for that. And yeah, I mean, you, we would have to hope that they will succeed given the extraordinary history that they’ve got and the innovation over their entire you know, background.

So it’s great to hear what they’re doing. And again, we will get the popcorn on board and we watched this space. So plenty going on. So, so let’s get into the Canadian Automobile Association for people who didn’t hear the previous show, of course, we will link to that in the show notes, Steve, but would you mind giving us just the the elevator pitch in terms of what does the CAA do as its core business, and even as it’s evolving so dramatically, I know we’re going to talk about that.

What is, you know, the new expanded role of the CAA for Canadian consumers? 

Steve: Yeah, thanks, Paula. Listen, I’m so proud to be part of an organization that is based on trust, value, advocacy. We are over 110 years old in Canada. We’re part of a larger global association of mobility clubs, including things like AAA, clubs in Europe, clubs in Asia Pac, etc.

In Canada, we’re a federation of eight clubs, across Canada, coast to coast all eight clubs basically do the same thing. They provide a trusted and valued service to our members who are first and foremost looking for roadside assistance. So if your car breaks down we’re the ones that show up to give you a battery boost, a bring you fuel.

Tow your car, whatever else it could be, and we have over 7 million members that rely on us for that level of service. We’re also very much about advocacy, everything from road safety to airline passenger rights to consumer rights and everything else that goes along with it, because Canadians really look to us as when they see that CAA oval, it is a trust, and we’ve been a trusted brand through a number of sources for probably the last four years straight.

We’re also a very large travel business. So, most of our clubs offer travel services in many cases, direct through travel agents. I know a lot of people think online’s the future, but you’d be surprised how many Canadian consumers really do believe in talking to a human being to say, I want to go to Dubai and how do I get there?

We’re also very much an insurance company. So we offer home and auto insurance in many regions of our country. We offer travel insurance. We resell and license life insurance. And we also have pet insurance. So we can essentially look after your dog, your cat, your car, your home, your boat, your life, your travel, and everything else in between.

And for Canadians who. You know, understand what we do for a living. They get great value, great trust, great support, and great service at a great price. And we believe in driving incredible member value for our consumers. So, so that’s really kind of at the core of what we do. The, how we do it is evolving.

And I think that’s probably something that we want to talk about today. 

Paula: We definitely do, Steve, because as you’ve said the breadth, the scope and the depth of everything that you’re doing is just growing so exponentially. It’s incredibly inspiring. And I guess in many ways, very different to what we typically talk about in terms of earn and burn mechanics and currencies and those type of loyalty initiatives.

And you’re quite different, but actually what you’re doing is you’re creating a beautiful proposition which has loyalty at the core intention in terms of taking care of people. So I think it’s an important distinction to make. Would you agree? 

Steve: Yeah, I do. And look at the end of the day, there are consumers in our base that today join our program really as almost as an insurance policy, if something goes wrong, I want to make sure that somebody is there to look after me.

And so that’s what a lot of people do still to this day. We have a number of our clubs across Canada that are really. You know, focused on all aspects of the business, but they may not put a tow truck or a recovery vehicle, depending on where you are in the world in their marketing communications, because they know that consumers already know that’s what we do.

We have, you know, a couple of core tenants that we believe in. Number one is we’re not a – an earn and burn loyalty program. We’re always looking at driving incremental member value so that when I’m a CAA member, I know I get more value because I get a better rate on my insurance. I get a better rate on my travel.

I get that one on one touch point with an agent, either a broker on insurance or a travel agent. I get incredible value for being a CAA member with other partners, which could include everything from a retail partner to a travel partner to our largest partner, which is our fuel partner Shell. We also believe that the member who joins our program doesn’t think of us.

As a frequent flyer program or as a coalition loyalty program. So we’re very open to the idea of working with other big programs. And we’ve done some tests in market, working with other programs to say, if you’re a member of this program X, and you get one point per dollar spend, a CAA member should get two points per dollar spend just because they’re a CAA member.

So, so we believe in driving that incremental value for our members. And you’re probably saying, well, why would you want to do that? Well, it’s pretty simple. When we get a consumer to join our program, our objective is to keep them in that program. And it is a paid membership. It is not a free loyalty program.

As a paid membership, our objective is acquire, engage and retain. And we know that when our members do at least one thing, it could be anything. It could be they got a roadside incident. It could be they filled up their car at Shell. It could be they went to one of our dining partners and had a fantastic meal.

The minute they do one thing with us, the renewal rate increases. And as the renewal rate increases, then their tenure with us increases. We know that when they do two or three or four, every activity that they do with us just increases their opportunity to renew because they say, I got great value from my program.

So it’s a pretty simple concept when you think about it. We’re marketers. We know we’re in the loyalty business, but it’s really interesting to see the behavior, of our members. Once they say, wow, I joined a program that I paid 100 for and I got 500 of value. That’s a pretty easy way for them to figure out.

I think I’m going to keep renewing. So our renewal rates incredibly important to us. It’s a very strong renewal rate. Our net promoter scores are inevitably in the high 70s, low 80s. So we always talk about, we want to make sure that people join us for the right reason, but then we want to keep them and we want to retain them over time.

And once we started to hit three years with the member, I’m not saying we’ve got them for life, but we’ve done a really good job and we continue to push that. And that’s consistent right across our clubs. And it’s actually a very consistent metric with our partners down in the United States at AAA too.

It’s the same objective. Get them in, get them engaged, get them to stay and hold them for as long as we can. 

Paula: For sure. And I was going to pick up on that one specifically, Steve, because you mentioned it to me before we came on air. You know, that reassurance piece, as you said, is incredibly valuable in its own right.

And I remember saying that to you the last time. For me, that was absolutely the only benefit, but it was, again, worth paying for, but that kind of cross border partnership that you have with the AAA, I think you said you’re north of what is it 60 million combined between Canada and the USA.

It’s absolutely incredible that you take care of each other in such a way. 

Steve: Yeah. It’s really interesting. I mean, I think historically. There’s always been that benefit that if a Canadian Automobile Association member is stuck in the middle of Texas, they call a number and the AAA club from Texas will support them.

On the flip side, when a AAA member is traveling in the beautiful country of Canada, whether that’s in the winter, the spring, the summer, the fall, it doesn’t matter. And they have any kind of roadside problem, we’re here to support them. So we have that opportunity to create reciprocity. We also have some partners that are cross border too.

I mentioned Marriott as an example. Marriott’s integrated through both AAA and CAA on the travel side. So when you walk into a Marriott hotel and see the AAA CAA logo, immediately there’s a reaction of, Oh, okay. That’s good. I trust it now. I understand what it’s about. And we’ve got great partners with Hilton and Hyatt and Choice Hotels has just joined us as a partner, and we’ve had a longstanding Best Western relationship. So we have this ability to move our consumers through different parts of their journey. Always with a sense of we’re here to help. We’re here to trust. And by the way, if there’s a problem, pick up the phone and call us and somebody is going to be there.

There was a, we talked a little bit about Apple before there was just an announcement in the United States about Apple and AAA doing a partnership deal where if I have no cell service. Then it picks up through the Apple satellite system and I can be rescued in the middle of the woods somewhere.

It’s not it’s not you know, a huge service right now, but it’s growing globally. And so we do a lot of reciprocity, the, loyalty platform that we all use was actually Canadian developed and has now been rolled out across the United States. We work very closely with our US partners. We work very closely on subcommittees and sharing and learning and growing.

And we also do that with our partners in Europe. And we also do that with our partners in Asia Pac and Australia and New Zealand. We have a global alliance of mobility partners where we can all learn and share and grow. So it’s an amazing place to be because we are membership driven with loyalty at our core. We’re not a loyalty program, but we have loyalty at, in the heart of everything that we do

Paula: I absolutely love that, Steve. You’ve reminded me of a conversation I had with the, actually a hotel brand recently, and we were just talking about the internal dynamics around loyalty and just the way they were talking about it reminds me of what you’re expressing right now. It’s the idea of leading with loyalty. You know, again, the word I often use on this show is that integrity, you know, how can we demonstrate our loyalty to our members in order to truly delight them. And then the retention question isn’t even a question. You’ve been so generous to share some of those statistics. 

But I even love that particular point that you just mentioned about the global network. And that was the main reason I wanted actually to hear from you today. There’s another phrase actually that I’m just remembering as well, which I heard in the convenience retail industry. And it was the idea of copy with pride.

And I really think that’s what I’m hearing that you guys are doing. So there is no competition. It’s all about cooperation. And you guys are, first of all, sharing a platform, which I definitely want to hear about, but also I guess sharing insights in terms of what do human beings, I won’t even call them members, what do human beings need? Well, how can we take care of each other better and what’s working in different markets so that you can learn and adapt and implement super efficiently. 

Steve: Yeah. And it’s been really interesting, Paula. One of the things that, you know, we learned very early and one of our CEOs, Jeff Walker, who’s a brilliant strategist, but also the reason I’m at CAA, but that’s a whole other, that’s a whole other episode, you know, he’s always talked about the idea that, you know, and I remember even previous loyalty players, you know, data is the new oil. Data is the key.

We know that if we can do some level of data capture or member level tracking, we can now do a better job of marketing to our consumers with relevancy, with compassion, with the right, you know, marketing message at the right time. That’s consistent now, right across the globe from all of the partners that we have, again, whether that’s in Australia. Our partners in the Netherlands do some incredible work around energy saving and, you know, you know, home networks and home services.

So we all learn and share. We have we just had an AGM, a AAA where there were two US clubs and myself standing up on stage, talking about the importance of data to drive member value and partner value and program value. We have a Global Mobility Alliance committee meeting coming up or a seminar coming up in Detroit in June. And again, it’s a panel of experts talking about data to drive member value, partner value, program value. We’re very consistent on it. Because of the way that our program is structured, we have everything from a member value discount. So a member swipes their card and gets an instant discount at POS.

We have some deferred currency, although that’s not as big anymore. We also have experiential and soft benefits all at the core of our business. But what’s key, is we need to track that right down to the member. And because we all have a unique identifier, I have a 16 digit number that identifies me as my level of membership, what club I belong to and everything else that goes along with that.

If I can now be communicated to through either digital innovation, through traditional direct mail, through mass marketing, whatever that could be that shows value. Then when we say to our partner, by the way, Steve comes to your restaurant, And has a larger basket size than a non member, typical metrics that all loyalty programs work.

Now we’re showing the value back to that partner. But ultimately, my member wants to see, I saved 500. You know, consumer spending and the impact of inflation, it’s a global phenomenon. So if we can show value, then it makes that entry point into our program easier. I use it parentheses, but easier.

Steve:  But it also means that retention piece is core and that’s a global piece. And all of our clubs work very differently. But they all work the same. They all work with data as its core. It’s a member driven program. It’s about cross line of business functionality. And we do share and we learn and we grow together because we’re all here to ultimately support our member. And long term, I think that’s where the viability of our program really exists. We’re very proud globally of our relationships, but also globally of our own evolution. 

Paula: Of course. Yes, as you should be. And I definitely do want to get into any insights you can share from around the world, Steve, in terms of how those value propositions are evolving.

But it would be remiss if I didn’t, first of all, you know, circle back to your own because last time you were with us, you had just launched your Shell partnership. And again, the everyday rewards piece was brand new. So just wanted to get an update in terms of how are they performing for the CAA for yourselves. How’s it all going? 

Steve: Yeah, I’m very proud to say it’s going so well with shell. We were just we just want a very large award, which was evaluation award on behalf of Shell Canada to our team, listen, a lot of hard work by all the marketers at the club level at Shell, my team who manages the relationship.

I can’t share all the specific numbers with you, but let’s just say that we continue to see incredible growth with Shell. We continue to see incredible growth for Shell in a very competitive marketplace. We’re very proud of that relationship and very proud to be part of it. And then, and interestingly enough, there’s also a Shell relationship with AAA.

There’s lots of conversations going on around the world with a great partner like Shell. It’s also allowed us to do some tests in market. I think I mentioned before that there’s a Bank of Montreal cents per liter offer that’s out in market right now. And it’s a stacked offer. So it’s not an either or you can actually stack on including the CA discount.

We do work with the team at air miles who are also a shell partner on testing out link loyalty and other ways. So it’s a great partnership. There’s a phenomenal at retail presence right now, very much a digital driven presence. So they’re sort of the perfect strategic partnership for us. They drive relevancy, frequency, simplicity, and member value. So when you kind of tick all those boxes, it works really well. 

It also piggybacks onto our evolution, which is the non-roadside. Again, I started off by saying that we’re a roadside assistance business at its core. I mean, that’s still what we do, but the evolution is now we’ve launched in almost all of our clubs. And the last one coming online very shortly, a non-roadside business. And so what’s core about it for us is a couple of things. Number one is that it provides the consumer all the value of being a CA member. Without any way to, you know, if I don’t, if my car breaks down, I won’t, we won’t help you now we’ll join, we’ll let you join if you really have a problem, but it’s not the focus of it.

So the focus could be, I could get great value on insurance, great value on travel, great value at Shell dining, etcetera. It tends to be a lower cost and it ranges from 10 annually to about, I think the most expensive one is about 59 dollars. All the clubs have done a subscription models. So instead of paying one lump sum, 4 dollars a month, 6 dollars a month, etcetera.

And part of the focus is to help us divest ourselves from a core part of our business, but not walk away from it. We want to get younger in our demographics. So how do we do that? We tie in with subscription models, other ways to do it. We want to be more flexible. We want to be more creative and we want to just create more opportunities for people to join our program.

So that was born and raised in Canada. I’m proud to say that it’s being tested in a couple of the very large clubs in the United States right now. And it’s being watched by the other clubs around the world to say, interesting. What else could we do? So the target market people who own a new car that have roadside through their OEM, people who may be urban dwellers who car share, but still use, you know, the brother’s car, mom and dad’s car, whatever else it could be.

Cause we, we do, you know, you know, we really look at the driver, not the car. It could just be people who are looking for great value, but it can also allow us now to link to other loyalty programs that don’t do what we do or want to piggy back and get access to our membership base. So, it’s a really interesting step for us.

Same method of data capture, same method of member level tracking, slightly different marketing. So a number of the clubs call it CAA Everyday. And I think I shared some video clips with it. Our BC club BCAA is called at BC Go. And they’ve gone very different coloration, a little bit of a different approach from a marketing standpoint. And our Alberta Club, Alberta Motor Associations called it Beast, Alberta community, because it’s very community focused very much around what does it mean to live in the great province of Alberta and what can I get for it?

So really interesting approach for our marketers, fascinating to see how it gets accepted by traditional members. The most important thing is we’re not seeing cannibalization. We’re seeing growth. It’s all incremental. We’re not seeing cannibalization of our existing base. So that’s exciting for us as marketers to say. We’ve launched a new product. It’s not core, but look at what it’s going to do. And it’s very new. A year from now, I might be able to share some stats with you, but it’s still, it’s growing exponentially, but we’re very happy about it. 

Paula: And it’s so counterintuitive, Steve. I think that’s why I love it so much. And for me, for example, since I moved back here to Dubai working predominantly from home and actually in a city where taxis are extraordinarily good value, we decided to give up our car completely. So as much as I was a member of the AA in Ireland, and again, loved that roadside assistance and relied upon it for the peace of mind we talked about, in Dubai, I’ve never even considered joining, you know, an equivalent program.

In fact, I don’t even know if we have one here. We do have different member based models, but they didn’t originate from the roadside assistance business like you guys. But it is it’s just extraordinary to me that you guys have managed to identify that extraordinary opportunity, as you’ve said, without cannibalizing anything and, you know, extend the brand trust that you’ve got, but for people like me, who don’t even have a car and suddenly want to be part of an automobile association. I think it’s genius.

Steve: Yeah. And I think what’s really interesting, Paula, is we have a sister company that’s part of CAA. It’s called Xperigo. Xperigo also has a relationship with the same organization in the United States under AAA and they do OEM roadside. So they’re leveraging the network of CAA and AAA to do OEM you know, original equipment manufacturer, a couple of big brands. There was a recent announcement with respect to General Motors. So if I drive a GM car and for whatever reason I have a roadside incident, when I call, I’m answering. I’m getting answered by Experigo, but it’s actually CAA or AAA that’s delivering the service.

The other thing that we’ve got one of our clubs, the BC Club, and I think I talked about it before, actually owns and operates a car share business in the beautiful city of Vancouver. So if you think about how we’re doing it now, we’re actually creating a membership program that has a bunch of different components.

I could be a member and get home and auto insurance, but never use roadside. I could book travel. I can get great deals on a hotel, but I can also do car share. I could buy an original car, have roadside assistance. I drive a Subaru and it’s actually labeled CAA. And so we’re kind of picking you up in all aspects of your consumer journey as either a car driver. And listen, with the birth or the expansion of electric vehicles by the way, they still do break down and they still need toes and their biggest issue is tires and brakes. So there’s still opportunities.

But we need to be kind of always one step ahead of the industry to say, how do we maintain our trusted position in the marketplace? How do we evolve to meet the future state of the automobile driver? And how do we work with that consumer who says, I don’t drive as much as I used to. So maybe I don’t need it, but I still want to get all the great value props. So like every program you’ve got to evolve, if you just, if you set a one size fits all and stay that way, you’re not going to be here. You’re not you’re Blockbuster video, not Netflix. And so we don’t want to be Blockbuster. We want to be innovative and continue to grow. And we’re seeing incremental growth in our programs globally. And that’s really exciting. 

Paula: It totally is. It totally is, Steve. So tell us then just in terms of that global perspective. Are there other things that are happening in other markets that perhaps you haven’t yet brought to Canada for whatever reason? You know, and also, sorry, before I forget, I wanted to pick up on the global platform that you referenced, Steve because I want you to explain that. I know you did in our previous call, but just so that our listeners understand exactly that value proposition.

It sounds like you guys are building that global solution so whether I’m motoring in Europe or motoring in Canada or North America, there’s an opportunity for the roadside assistance piece based on that, as you said, that 16 digit identifier, but without needing to join a different program if I happen to be traveling overseas.

Steve: Yeah, there’s kind of two parts to it, Paula. There’s already a global reciprocity with respect to roadside and sort of base membership. Where we’ve pivoted is actually our IT team in Canada a number of years ago actually built a loyalty platform specifically for CAA to do member level tracking for our partners. That’s now expanded into the United States and into Europe and we’re looking at a further expansion. 

Although it’s not here yet, long term, one of the objectives could be that I’m a CA member and I’m driving a car in The Netherlands. And I want to get a benefit as a CA member by going to a Netherlands retailer for fuel or a car wash or convenience, whatever it could be. Maybe I just want a cup of coffee and a chocolate bar. So in a perfect world, because we’ve got the back end integration and we know how to pick up the member numbers, there is a world where a CAA member traveling in Europe could get benefits. There is a world where a global member from the Netherlands or Germany or Switzerland or Japan or Australia coming into Canada could be the same.

So that’s a longer term goal. That’s going to take a little bit more. And I don’t, I can’t say that’s live today, but we also look at it. Does that now create an opportunity where we’re now in 137 million, 140 million globally to go to a large global partner and say, why don’t we look at a national, like an international partnership? So again, that’s a little bit of hopes and dreams, but we’re kind of down the road. 

On the global perspective, what’s really interesting for me, I’m a strategic partnerships guy. That’s what I do for a living. So I look at how they’re building their business and I’ll give you kind of three examples.

We’ve worked with the Norwegian Club, really interesting club. You know, Norway is not a big country, but my goodness, what they’re doing with electric vehicles. So we’ve sent some of our folks over to the Netherlands or to Norway to learn about how they do electric vehicle testing. The Climate of Norway and Canada are quite similar, a little different than Dubai. We have snow here. I know you don’t have much snow in Dubai, but so how does an electric vehicle perform in colder temperatures minus 20 minus 30 or even more. So we’re working on replicating that in the Canadian marketplace. How could we do that? We’ve worked very closely with a couple of our clubs, including in the Netherlands, talking about how they work with, you know, products around solar and home energy and that sort of integration of the home grid. Think about the way that you think about your car could we also protect your home the same way? 

In New Zealand and in Australia, we’re also looking at what they’re doing. They’ve actually acquired organizations around home services. And again, really creating this sort of cradle to, or own the driveway, own the kitchen, own the garage, whatever you want to call it. So that it’s sort of full touch, full journey of the consumer right across the board. So we’ll get sharing and learning from them on what they’re doing and how do we then build membership value propositions and member programs. 

One of our clubs in Canada has built a very robust gift card platform. And that gift card platform is to create an integration with again, retailers who love payment cards or gift cards. And again, could we do the same thing globally? Is there a way that we can share? So there’s a lot of across order, across the pond, across international worlds where we’re all working together to understand how can it help?

And by the way, nothing, not everything works in every country. So it’s okay to look at somebody else and say, that’s great. I don’t think we can do that, but it’s also okay to look at them and say, that’s amazing. Could we borrow that? And that’s how we can share. And that’s how we work in our sort of global environments.

And again, there’s the FIA, which is the Federacion Internacional Automobile, which is Formula One, that manages a bunch of our European clubs and Canada sits as part of the FIA. There’s another group called the Global Mobility Alliance, which picks up AAA and a bunch of the clubs in Australasia and AsiaPac. So we have these groups that are all working together and we share and learn and we help each other any way that we can. It’s very exciting. It’s really very exciting. 

Paula: Well, as I said, Steve, the whole idea of copy with pride, and it sounds like it’s being done on steroids by you guys, extensive collaboration and nothing but a mutual support, mutual admiration, as you said, you know, evaluating what’s happening.

So at least you’ve got, you know, one step ahead of what everybody’s thinking about. And then of course you do your evaluation and see if it’s appropriate for, as you said, for Canada specifically. It may or may not be. But incredibly inspiring all around, Steve. 

I have to say, I just love that idea of learning by doing, but, you know, learning by doing from other people’s expertise and that, you know, collaboration of mindset is just, you know, for me, as somebody who loves lifelong learning, you know, what better way to learn than from, you know, somebody who’s been doing the same role with the same wonderful intention and integrity that we refer to around the world.

And I will say as well, Steve, you very kindly shared the CAA 101 deck in terms of how you guys think about all of these things. And I suppose crystallize it into the vision, the intention, and almost key success principles. So I just wanted to say thank you for sharing that with us. 

Steve: You’re welcome. You’re welcome.

Paula: And I know you kindly said that anyone listening to this particular episode, or of course watching it on Loyalty TV, anybody wants to reach out and and have access to the CAA’s introductory member deck, just to give a sense of how you guys think. So, again for that, Steve. I think it’s brilliant. And it just helps, I think, particularly with the simplicity of, you know, a member led organization, regardless of whether it’s roadside assistance or an airline or anything like us, for example, you know, just trying to be of service it’s incredibly valuable. 

So, with that said I think I’ve run out of all of my questions for today We’ve covered a lot as we did last time. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention as well today, Steve, before we wrap up? 

Steve: Yeah, I think the only thing I’ll say is a couple of things. Listen, Paul,a I think what you’re doing in the loyalty space with your Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV is incredible. I’m so honored to be part of this amazing collaboration of experts from around the world.

I think the one thing that I would say to everybody, and I’ve said this often, and I will say it again: don’t sit on your laurels, don’t say, aren’t we great, look at all these fantastic things we’ve all got to evolve. We’ve all got to share and learn. And that’s why I think this podcast is just fantastic.

So I’m happy to share a little bit about what we’re doing. I’m very proud of what we’re doing. It’s been a long journey for me to get here, but I’m hyper jazzed about it. You know, I enjoyed my time as a consultant. I still think of myself as an advisor. I work very closely with a bunch of experts around the world and I’m really honored to be part of this podcast and I’m very proud of what we’re doing at CAA and continue to be proud of what we’re doing globally. So I’m thrilled to be part of this and happy to help any way that I can. 

Paula: Amazing, Steve. Well, we will make sure to again, link to your LinkedIn profile in our show notes for anybody who does want to connect with you. I know you’re extremely generous with your time and connecting with anyone who’s listening to this. So thank you for being of service to the industry. As I said, I’m already, always looking forward to our next conversation. I feel like there’s so much going on for you particularly, I suppose, with this increased global perspective. So, so much to learn from and and we’re delighted to have you.

So, Steve Allmen, EVP of Strategy and Partnerships at the Canadian Automobile Association, thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. 

Steve: Thank you, Paula. 

Paula: This show is sponsored by Wise Marketer Group, publisher of The Wise Marketer, the premier digital customer loyalty marketing resource for industry relevant news, insights, and research. Wise Marketer Group also offers loyalty education and training globally through its Loyalty Academy, which has certified nearly 900 marketers and executives in 49 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For global coverage of customer engagement and loyalty, check out thewisemarketer.com and become a wiser marketer or subscriber. Learn more about global loyalty education for individuals or corporate training programs at loyaltyacademy.org. 

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