#138: ebookers.com - Online Travel Agency Loyalty (Short Summary Show)

ebookers UK was launched in 1998 as the UK’s first online travel agency, and added its “Bonus+” programme in 2016, in order to offer its customers a compelling reason to book with them.

Listen to this episode of “Let’s Talk a LITTLE Loyalty” to hear my favourite aspects of this simple and generous loyalty programme – particularly its focus on mobile users.

Show Notes:

1) ebookers.co.uk

2) Bonus +

3) Nicki Helfet 

4) Let’s Talk Loyalty Interview with ebookers.com

Audio Transcript

Speaker 0 (0s):

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 for loyalty specialists around the world.

Hello, welcome to episode 138 of let’s talk loyalty.

Today’s show is a summary of a real blast from the past for me.

Ebookers is an online travel agency originally launched in the UK in 1998 as the very first online travel agency in the country. And a few years later, I worked for the Irish part of the business About 20 years ago.

The company has changed ownerships a few times over the years and is now part of the Expedia group. Now, as we all know, particularly in the travel sector, a compelling loyalty program can be a key differentiator for customers, but it can be very challenging for travel agents to reward customers because of the hugely varying margins on airline bookings compared to hotels or other products that online travel agencies typically sell. But in 2016, Ebookers UK launched their bonus plus program, which really impressed me as a simple and actually very generous loyalty program. My conversation was with Nikki Hillfort the loyalty manager at the time for bonus plus someone who certainly shares my passion for both travel and loyalty. And she talked me through the value proposition for the program. The key things I loved about bonus plus were firstly, the simplicity of how customers are in cash value back on their bookings. She explained that this has shown as part of the booking journey. So members don’t need to decipher a currency light points in order to understand the value they are being rewarded with. Nicki describes this as simply doing the maths for people based on the principles of simplicity and generosity. And also she mentioned that members can enjoy the reward value immediately after it’s earned. So there’s no delay in enjoying the benefits. The rewards are usable against hotel bookings, giving members the opportunity to enjoy a special experience as a result of their other bookings and loyalty. In addition to this quite transactional part of the program, Nikki shared that the bonus plus program also operates a tier structure. So you can hear all about those extra benefits in the full episode in June, 2020. My favorite part of the whole strategy though, was a laser focus on app users who actually earn double the value back on their bookings compared with members who simply book on the Ebookers website. So rather than earning 1%, 2% and 3% back on flights, packages and hotel bookings Ebookers app users actually earn two, three and 5% back respectively. It’s a clever and compelling way to incentivize members to connect with the brand in a way that ensures that Ebookers can stay connected to their members no matter when they travel or where as people will always check their phone much more often than they will check their email with operations across seven countries in Europe, as well as Sweden and Scandinavia, the Ebookers group operates a localized version of rewards in each Marcus in order to ensure they are relevant to local customer profiles. The final point that Nikki shared with me for bonus plus was the various KPIs she focused on for the business side of the loyalty program with the transaction penetration rate as perhaps the most important indicator for the overall business. In closing, we talked about some other popular UK programs and why they seem to work so well, including the famous boots pharmacy program, which is a market leader, as well as Nicki’s personal favorite, but the discount fashion, retailer TK Maxx, they call it the treasure program and it rewards its members based on the number of visits. So that’s it for this short summary episode of let’s talk a little loyalty Speaker 0 (4m 59s): It’s relaxin guys, talk to you on Thursday. This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing news insights and research. The wise marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty and marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise market tier.com and loyalty academy.org. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of let’s talk loyalty. If you’d like me to send you the latest show each week, simply sign up for the show newsletter on let’s talk loyalty.com and I’ll send you the latest episode to your inbox every Thursday, or just head to your favorite podcast platform. Find let’s talk loyalty and subscribe. Of course I’d love your feedback and reviews. And thanks again for supporting the show. <inaudible>.