#486: Expert Loyalty Insights for 2024 with Bright Insights Consulting

Today’s episode is available in both audio on “Let’s Talk Loyalty” and in video format on www.Loyalty TV.

Our guest today is both a loyalty expert and a great friend of our show.

Lisa Brightwell is the Founder and Managing Director of Bright Insights Consulting, a boutique loyalty consultancy firm based here in Dubai.

Lisa joined me on the show previously in April 2021, to talk about some very innovative topics in the industry, and today’s she’s doing exactly the same!

As you will hear, Lisa is particularly passionate about employee loyalty, effectively designing your loyalty strategy BEFORE choosing a technology platform, as well as the simplicity and power of card-linked loyalty – a concept she has launched for some of the biggest programs in Dubai, including Skywards from Emirates.

Please listen and enjoy our conversation.

Show Notes:

1) Lisa Brightwell

2) Bright Insights Consulting

3) Tell Me Why American Airlines’s podcast for staff

4) Watch this episode on 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 today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. Today’s guest is both a loyalty expert and a great friend of mine and of our show. Lisa Brightwell is the Founder and Managing Director of Bright Insights Consulting, a boutique loyalty consultancy firm based here in Dubai. Lisa joined me on Let’s Talk Loyalty back in April 2021 to talk about some very innovative topics in the industry.

And today she’s back and she’s doing exactly the same. As you will hear, Lisa is particularly passionate about employee loyalty. She’s also passionate about effectively designing your loyalty strategy before choosing a loyalty platform. And also the simplicity and power of cardlink loyalty, a concept she has launched for some of the biggest programs in Dubai, including Skywards from Emirates. I really hope you enjoy our conversation all about these incredible, innovative topics for loyalty marketing professionals.

Lisa Brightwell, welcome to Loyalty TV. You’ve been a guest on Let’s Talk Loyalty and I’m thrilled to have you on Loyalty TV today. 

Lisa: Thank you very much. I’m very excited to be here. 

Paula: Amazing. 

Lisa: I love your new home. 

Paula: If only, absolutely. We’ve got this incredible new studio and we’re here to celebrate it. So there’s something very special about having a loyalty friend come and sit and talk in this beautiful place. We’re going to have a great conversation today. 

Lisa: Thank you. 

Paula: You were last on the show back in April, 2021.

Lisa: I can’t believe that. 

Paula: Unbelievable, huh? 

Lisa: It’s gone like a flash. 

Paula: Yeah, for sure. So, so much has happened. We were obviously in the depths of COVID at the time, although thankfully here in Dubai, we didn’t have too much difficulty compared to other parts of the world.

But a lot has changed in the world of loyalty. So we’re here to talk about your insights, as Bright Insights, dare I say, an incredible brand that you operate in this whole GCC region. 

Lisa: Yes. 

Paula: So, as you know, we always love to have our opening question to get inside the minds of loyalty marketing professionals. So kick us off, Lisa, with telling us what is your current favorite loyalty program? 

Lisa: Right. Well, I know everyone says this when you ask this question. It is a tough one, especially as a loyalty marketing professional. When you work with so many as well, you kind of feel like, Ooh, what should I say here?

So I originally, I was going to say Hilton honors. 

Paula: Okay. 

Lisa: And I will keep saying that, but I actually have two. So I’ll start with Hilton Honors for me, hotel programs, we all engage with them, but what I love the most about Hilton is the way that they manage their tier calculations. I’m a bit of a status what did I call it? Status creeper or.

Paula: Chaser.

Lisa: Status chaser. That’s the word I use. Yeah. I’m a status chaser. I hate it when I lose my status like everybody does. And what I like about them is that they have what I call the tri factor. They have both nights, stays, and points that help you accumulate towards your tier status. And for me, I never make it on stay, I never make it on nights, but I always make it on points. And I love the flexibility of that and the ability to keep my status. It’s one I use all the time. I travel a lot for work, as you know, as well. So, I stick with them because I’m always able to maintain that status, which I haven’t been able to do with others. So, props out to Hilton. 

Paula: Okay, great. 

Lisa: The other one that, and I was thinking about this as well, the one that I, I use every day. Excuse the pun. 

Paula: Well done. Nicely done. 

Lisa: I use every day is Skywards Every Day. And I wasn’t going to mention it because we obviously have an involvement with Skywards every day. So there is a bit of bias from my side, obviously. But I just love it. It, I’m earning passively frictionlessly every single day that I’m interacting. And I was saying to you earlier. I’m in the industry and they’ve hook, line and sinker got me and I even work with them on it, but I go out of my way to make sure I find actually MMI, which is the off license here in Dubai.

There’s two, two prominent ones. I will drive out my way to make sure I go to MMI versus African and Eastern, which is the competitor. Purely because I get my Skywards Miles. And obviously accumulating in everyday spend means I’m able to reach my goals of a flight home in summer quicker. 

Paula: Beautiful.

Lisa: And I use my co-brand. So there’s a double earn. I use my co-brand and I will get my miles there and then I’ll get my miles with Skywards every day. So yeah, I just felt like I have to say it because it is the one that I do use. 

Paula: Yeah. Absolutely.

Lisa: It’s, they’ve got tens of thousands of people using it daily now. It’s been such a great success. I’m so proud of it. I’m so happy to be involved in it. And they’re such a great team as well. So yeah, it’s a great program. It’s a great addition to Skywards. 

Paula: Indeed. Well, well done you and well done Emirates. And just for the sake of our global audience, Skywards is obviously the program Emirates airline, based here in Dubai.

I have always said, in fact, that particular technology, Lisa, which I know we talked about actually the last time you were on the show, but as a consumer, it is my single favorite technology. And as you said, it’s the idea of this frictionless piece. So I don’t need to think about a card. I literally need to link any payment device. And as you said, all of the points automatically come through and to your point about the double dipping. I’ve also managed to triple dip. 

Lisa: Oh, right. Dubai Mall?

Paula: So exactly. So I went to a Costa coffee. I had the co-brand card points. I had the Costa points when Skywards every day. And of course I had the the Dubai Mall points as well. 

Lisa: Yeah, it’s amazing. 

Paula: So it sounds like it’s absolutely flying for them, huh? 

Lisa: Absolutely amazing. I think CLO in general as a technology or as a mechanism or whatever you want to call it. Oops. It has been on the rise. The growth of that is we can see it in market and it’s going to continue that way. And it’s lovely to see because people are seeing the value of that frictionless and seamless engagement and what it does for their program and how it adds value, not just engagement outside of the normal proposition, but obviously when people are earning currency, they’re redeeming it back within the airline or program, depending on who’s adopted it.

Paula: A hundred percent. Totally. Yes, exactly. Yeah. No, it is a favorite and another piece that I really like, and I’ve often said it’s my favorite program, again, because of the opportunities to use it. But I like the fact that they even launched it as a separate app Lisa as well. 

Lisa: Interesting. 

Paula: Yeah. And I do think that’s possibly controversial. 

Lisa: Yes. 

Paula: I can imagine there was perhaps internal debates around that. So, you know, whether to launch something within the core airline app or take the Skywards everyday proposition separately. So I don’t know if there’s any kind of thoughts or insights you can bring from that, but to me, it’s very clear. And I think what it achieves very successfully is that whole idea of becoming part of the lifestyle. It’s like Emirates is now part of my everyday life. It’s not just when I fly home, to your point, two or three times a year. So, would that maybe have been part of the thinking, would you say? 

Lisa: I’m not sure if it’s part of the thinking, but if I kind of comment from my side on why I think it’s probably a good way to do it, I think one of the challenges we do have with loyalty now is that there are, they can get quite complex for the audience.

Paula: A hundred percent. 

Lisa: And I see that a lot in this industry, in this market, should I say. Yeah. We go to a lot of efforts to create these lovely complex programs, but a lot of the time people don’t understand them. And so simplicity is always the best way. And by having them in two separate apps, it doesn’t mix up with the journey that Emirates is going to have on their own app. And it allows you, if this is how you’re engaging with them, to have that simple, quick access to what you need to get access to, to engage with Skywards every day. 

Wasn’t involved in the decision of why they chose that, but I would, from my perspective, I think it probably does make things simpler for people to understand.

Paula: Amazing. Yeah. Key point. Absolutely. So, so listen, we are at the beginning of 2024. It’s exciting times. 

Lisa: Yes. 

Paula: As we said, nearly three years since you were on the show the last time, I know we bonded over a couple of. big topics. Actually, we’re quite innovative, actually, even back then. Of course, CLO card linked offers, as we know, was a key part of that discussion. We also talked about voice. We talked about WhatsApp. So I think we both have a passion for what hasn’t been done before and why not? And what more can be done?

But I think what I admire most about your work is the fact that you’ve got so much expertise in all of these very different markets. And I think what I’m hearing from a lot of programs I’d love your perspective on is there’s an awful lot of ambition. I think for brands here, everybody wants to be the best in the world. Everybody wants to beat the competition and they will happily invest. I think particularly at the outset, but I think it comes with an awful lot of challenges. And I know you and I have talked socially about some of these, so I thought it’d be a good opportunity to sit back and reflect in terms of, you know, best practice for people, particularly in this region.

If they are thinking about either launching or relaunching a program, what are you hearing in terms of the issues or challenges that they face when we, when they go through that thinking, particularly with their senior management, again, looking for results and looking to be better than everybody else.

Lisa: Wow. There’s a lot there. 

Paula: There is. Sorry. It’s a huge question, but there’s a lot of opportunity, you know.

Lisa: And you know, we do in the nature of what we do and our work, we do a lot of analysis on programs. So we look at the value propositions, the outward facing consumer value propositions to the market. And there often isn’t a lot of differences, certainly between in sectors. So hotels, airlines, retail, there’s a lot of similarities. 

And so what I do find though, that is that whilst there’s a lot of similarities on paper and customer value proposition, there’s a lot of differences when it comes to delivery. And so from my standpoint, for programs, I really think that the launching of a program or the relaunching of the program value proposition is very important, but what’s equally as important is the effectiveness and the optimizing of the delivery.

And then the ongoing managing of that program. I’ve seen many, many a times on paper, a beautiful program, great innovation, great technology, great you know, forward thinking, but then when it comes to actually delivery, it’s failed because a lot of the effort has been put on the kind of structure and strategy, but then it isn’t continued that level of I don’t want to say, work.

Paula: Commitment. I think.

Lisa: But that level of commitment, thank you. Good word. On the delivery and implementation and management. And so that’s where we are doing a lot of work with some of the brands that we work with to unpack that a little bit and say, okay, the value proposition isn’t bad. So where are we failing? What is not working and why is it not working and how can we help make all these optimize again and make the program run effeciently as it should.

And so that’s definitely from the delivery point of view, but you did ask a question about if you want to set up a program and I think, and we can come back to delivery because there’s so much we can talk about there, but when setting up a program on top of the value proposition, what I’m fine, what I see and what I feel there’s a bit of a lack on is companies really investing the time and effort into that complete, I think customer journey mapping.

And that kind of links with the operational delivery, right? So as who are your target audiences and how are they engaged with you across the whole journey map and what would make their experience better? And ultimately make the program work better for the business. And I sometimes turn up with some clients and I say, well, where’s your customer experience map? Where’s your journey map? How did you do this? And they don’t have that piece. 

And so I think for brands, considering creating a loyalty strategy, don’t forget the nice value proposition piece, but think about how you map that journey through your business and how that can work from, and it is business transformation and it should be business transformation for strategies to be very consumer centric. So that’s people, process, tech, data. 

And how is that going to impact the business across all of those areas? Just thinking about loyalty as a value proposition and strategy without thinking deeper into the business. Cause that’s when you really get that sweet spot of real customer centricity and kind of business wide support that actually will help you succeed in the second stage when you came to delivering implementation.

Paula: Yeah. You know what you’re reminding me Lisa is, it’s come up a few times on the show about the, you know, sometimes an overlap, and I’m guessing it’s not always, but for loyalty professionals and CX professionals, I’m almost thinking that there is potentially an opportunity for me. Certainly, if I was a loyalty manager now that program, I would probably position myself as a CX expert or CX professional, just because I do think, as you said, it’s an area of the business. Like loyalty is an area that affects the whole business and unless it affects the whole business, it’s not going to be effective. 

Lisa: A hundred percent. And that’s what I do see that I come into sometimes into companies and you see, That loyalty is kind of siloed or separated into a separate department, often within marketing and they’re not connected with the data teams or the insights teams and they have their own insights or their own data.

Hold on a minute. Data is such a key part of loyalty. Why is it separated? Loyalty shouldn’t be separated a separate part of the business. It’s a business wide transformation. So, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. 

Paula: Yeah. And the customer journey map is not something I’ve ever had responsibility for. You’re a loyalty expert and you’re doing this all of the time. Do you think it takes an external loyalty expert like you guys to come in and do that? Or can it be done relatively simply? And I’m thinking about people like I didn’t have access to external loyalty consultants when I worked back in Ireland.

And yet at the same time, I think it’s something that I should be, have been able to do. Again, telecoms is very different. Airlines are very different. I know you do a lot of work in retail as well, but that customer journey mapping people piece, is that something as simple as let’s sit down, get the business together and literally put it on paper as to what happens, or do you think the external perspective is important?

Lisa: So interesting question. Maybe that’s a new podcast episode, maybe with an expert, but we have taken that step ourselves. We didn’t used to do this a couple of years back, three years ago. 

Paula: Okay. There you go.

Lisa: And we learned that the value of having that, and we’ve actually brought in expertise in house to do that exercise. And I’ve learned a lot. And I think you, you know, with, as with anything, you could do it in a small way, you could do it in a large way when we’re developing a program for a big company, we like to go, we like to go to a real detailed granular level, but I think with the principles and the kind of the goals of what you’re trying to do when it comes to that journey mapping, I’m sure anybody could do it. And that’s why I say maybe it’s a podcast subject matter.

Paula: Yes, totally. 

Lisa: Maybe that we can help educate some people to help them do that. So I think it could be done. Absolutely. I’ve certainly learned a lot. And it’s changed my perspective as well on how we, we put programs together. I won’t do a pro a strategy for program implementation without mapping out that whole entire journey. Where are the opportunities? Where are the pain points? Who are the customers and how are they going to engage each of this level? Where are they going to be happy or sad? How are they feeling? Even have on our maps, you know, little happy faces or sad faces, you know, because as with any loyalty program, you’re never going to be able to create a strategy that is going to appeal to 100 percent of your audience.

Paula: Yes. 

Lisa: It’s a very difficult ask. It’s a very difficult ask. But, you need to identify all the audiences and how they’d engage with you through the journey. Yeah. And what can you do to make their journey easier? A more happy one, a more positive experience with you. So, yeah, I definitely have learned that myself in the last three years since we last spoke.

And it’s for me, a very important part of the journey for whether you’re creating a strategy or whether you want to reinvent or redo or just relook at why are we failing in our user interface. Why are we not working online? Let’s map that out. Let’s have a look at what what customers say and map it out into a journey map, and then you can very easily, so funny and you very easily start seeing the issues very clearly when you map it out. 

Paula: So, yeah. You’ve reminded me of a great example, Lisa, and I’m delighted I remembered it. But back in Ireland, somebody was talking about building a loyalty strategy for an insurance company. Which is, we all know, is a grudge purchase. You know, resent paying for it. It’s just one of those things. It’s just never going to be fun until you need it. 

But they actually did exactly that. They mapped out the customer journey and what they realized is they don’t need a loyalty program, you know, to either acquire customers or really to convince them or even to do the renewal when they needed that loyalty thinking was actually at the pain point of claim. Because actually that was when the customer was having the biggest pain. 

So to actually have an opportunity to say, you know, we’re going to address the issue of course, but now we’re going to go a step beyond and make sure that customer remains loyal, but literally at the worst part of the relationship. 

Lisa: Amazing.

Paula: Like to me, that was absolutely genius. I think exactly what you’re talking about. 

Lisa: It’s about what. What is value to the customer and understanding who your customers are and what is value to them? It isn’t always the same. And, you know, I often have these conversations with clients, you know, often people come to us and ask for the same things or we want discounts, we want points and we ask the question, but what, what equals value to your customer? Let’s understand that. Let’s figure out then how can we solve that? And what would be the right strategy to, to provide that to the customer? And so, yeah. 

Paula: Amazing. Yeah. The other piece I always loved the, I suppose, external perspective, which again is what I always look to you for, is around the actual technology. So whether it’s the LMS, the loyalty management system itself, or anything around it, whether it is card link technology or like interesting, I suppose, because we get so many pitches, you can imagine inbound coming in from people going, we’re building this tech and that tech, most of it goes totally over my head.

But what I will say, I hear from program owners, and I don’t think it’s unique to this region. is still a concern about, you know, technology being oversold in such a competitive environment. And I know why it happens, but I’m really looking for any words of wisdom, any thoughts or any experience that you’ve had. Is that happening in this region to the same extent that I see it? I think it might be from your, the look on your face.

Lisa: It is. I’m trying to be careful. Obviously we work with a lot of tech partners and we love them.

Paula: As do I. Yeah. 

Lisa: But I feel like loyalty should be strategy first. 

Paula: Correct, yeah. 

Lisa: Not tech first. And unfortunately, what I see happening here in the region, and it’s not a criticism necessarily because if you don’t know, you don’t know. But someone decides they need a loyalty strategy. Well, actually what they think is they need a loyalty program. But go on Google and they’ll say, loyalty program, UAE or, and they’ll search and a whole bunch of sponsored link links will come up for technologies. Which obviously they’re doing their job, they’re doing their search engine optimization.

Paula: I would do the same. A hundred percent.

Lisa: I would do the same. And then the, and it’s often maybe someone that perhaps hasn’t worked in loyalty before or not experience, and they’ll click on and they’ll get all these people come in and present these amazing technology platforms. And you can do this, and there’s AI and there’s predictive analysis and there’s this. As a marketing professional, you’re going to get wowed by all these amazing features. I love that. That’s a cool idea. 

But unless you know what you’re trying to achieve. For me the problem is that people then buy into tech. And they sit down and then the tech companies will say, okay, what is, what does your program look like and smell like? And then the person goes, I don’t know, that’s why you’re here. And the tech company’s like, well, no, we’re here to provide the tech. 

Paula: Yeah, we haven’t designed it. 

Lisa: We haven’t designed it. You need to tell us what you need. And then you get this back and forth. And it’s more of a mishmash kind of road or journey to the end point. And so, you know, what I prefer our clients to do is do strategy first. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Because that also changes what kind of technology you need.

You might not need to spend the amount of money that you’ve, you DMR, you might need because internally within businesses, everyone has a different tech stack, a different data architecture. Some people have great Martech marketing technologies to do the distribution of campaigns. So you might not need a fully encompassing platform that has all the Martech has all these elements because internally as a business, you have a lot of that already.

To spend less and then get another platform that can fit seamlessly within the architecture or if they don’t have those things, then yeah, we could advocate looking at a more comprehensive technology stack that has a lot more to offer you in terms of what you need to achieve.

So strategy first, but also strategy. Look at what you have internally. Look at what you need. And then go for tech. And then RFP it, and then go out to market. Scorecard it. And choose the right tech for what you need. And unfortunately here I see it a lot the other way around.

Paula: Totally. 

Lisa: Like we said, tech first, and then that’s when, that’s the programs where we see, a couple years down the line, it’s not working for them. And we get a phone call saying we need a consultant. We don’t feel we’re getting the results we need from our program. And then we start asking those questions. So, so where’s your strategy? Where’s your blueprint for what this program needed to do? Oh, we didn’t do that. And so you can see straight away. And that’s where we go back to. Okay. Let’s start from dark and let’s build that out. But yeah, definitely. Yeah. And the tech companies are great as well. So no criticism to those guys. 

Paula: Totally. 

Lisa: And we actually find ourselves working really well with them all. And I like each one of them for different reasons and they all have their pros and cons. And so we end up working really well with them because they prefer it. They prefer it when it’s a clear, because ultimately it comes back to bite them.

If it’s not clear for them, they’ll implement something. Client says, I wanted. Change request, back and forth. Ultimately the tech provider wants a clear vision of what they need to do. And that’s when it works better. So yeah. Okay. Hopefully we’re helping to change that narrative. Yeah. 

Paula: I was gonna say, yeah, again, I think to summarize that particular one, more of us need more of you. I genuinely believe it. No, I think it’s important because again, the program owner will be facing all of the internal pressures. You have the opportunity to take a step back. I think in many businesses, consultants in general are considered just, you know, you know, either unwise or, you know, costly. And there is, you know, I suppose, valid concerns around that. 

But when it comes to advising on such a big investment, I just don’t think that anyone could have the same skills internally as you have from having a day to day interaction again with amazing platforms, because again, what I saw happening in one program that I worked on was, it was oversold and that was unfortunate, but anyway, it did happen. But worse, the relationship really did break down. 

Lisa: Yeah, that’s a shame when that happens. 

Paula: And that’s really difficult because then you can’t get back. It’s just really horrendous. So, so I really would wish that nobody would ever end up in a situation like that. And we could have been protected if we’d had somebody going, well, hang on, let’s just challenge these, all of these people to make sure that it’s fit for purpose. So, so good advice on the technology side. 

I think the key piece then Lisa as well is around yes, people launching programs in this region, I think we have an awful lot of challenges at the point of sale again, just specifically when I think about retail. So I wanted to ask your thoughts on, you know, things like training and inspiring, educating, and bringing the whole team on the journey.

I have a couple of views on it, but I just wanted to ask you what you’re hearing and seeing. I know you do a lot of work, for example, even in Saudi Arabia, which might be considered less mature loyalty market than other people kind of listening and and developing programs. So tell us about the role of people in terms of the overall success.

Lisa: Oh, it’s kind of my passion point at the minute. People. So it’s one that we talked, we touched on earlier about some of the areas where programs perhaps have the opportunity to fail on delivery. And I think people kind of, is a, it can happen with people. It’s very important that your frontline staff or the people delivering the customer experience to your customers are well trained and well versed on the program. If they’re not, then they have the ability to completely change what should be a positive experience into a negative one. 

And what we typically see when we come into companies and evaluate their programs is that there’s a training PowerPoint and maybe it’s done once a year or once every six months and that happens. But ultimately, those people have lots of other things to do in their jobs. Certainly frontline staff in retail or in hospitality and in any industry, and they might not always 100 percent remember all the details of a PowerPoint that they had maybe a year ago. 

And also programs evolve and change all the time. So that needs to be updated constantly. Now, some people do it really well. I’m not saying I’m not tarring everyone with the same brush, but sometimes people forget that is an important part and the whole experience can be ruined by someone not understanding what they need to be sharing. 

So we especially in the last, I’d say year and a half or so, I’ve been really focusing and it’s been interesting. I’ve seen quite a lot of people coming to us to talk about employee one engagement and two employee loyalty. And they’re separate, but they also cross over. 

Paula: Of course. 

Lisa: So from an employee engagement standpoint, we’ve been looking at different ways to, how do we make sure employees are aware of what needs to be aware of engaged, enjoying it. It’s not just a PowerPoint presentation, which, you know, you could. PowerPoint, you know, I’m not a massive fan of PowerPoint. 

Paula: Honestly, I’m definitely not. So you’re actually much better PowerPoint than I am Lisa. 

Lisa: We make it our mission as consultants to, to put a lot of effort into PowerPoints because they are boring. 

Paula: They are boring. 

Lisa: It can be very boring. But in last podcast, a couple of years ago, we did talk about the power of voice. And can’t remember everything we said back then, but it is very powerful. People are much more likely to retain the information if they’re hearing it versus if they’re seeing it on a PowerPoint.

And so, and you know, we’ve discussed how with some of the programs we’re looking at, how we can look at voice in the training? Can we create internal podcasts to educate staff back of house, on their own time, educate them, list interesting articles on maybe on the program, but also fun and interesting topics that are of motivating value to them.

So there’s satisfaction there along with education. And that could be won by voice podcast, or it could be by TV like we’re doing today. And there’s so many ways we can try to engage employees outside of a PowerPoint or some training material. And I, me and my team, we love to get really creative on that. How can we engage the employee? And there are also, I mean, lots of platforms as well doing the same thing. 

And we work with, I mean, I’m happy to mention them, Workvivo. It’s a platform that we have been really interested in because it’s like a, It’s like a social media, but an internal social media, it looks a bit like Facebook.

Paula: Okay. Nice. 

Lisa: I can say that. Sorry, Workvivo. But it looks a little bit like that. You can scroll, you can like, you can engage and the kind of rich content you can put on there from badging, gamification, you get points if you’ve watched something.

Paula: Love it.

Lisa: Or you get a badge, if you’ve listened to all the podcasts or if you’ve taken the course or you’ve engaged or you’ve done something that we want you to do as a brand to get you understanding what the messaging we need you to get over to our consumers.

And so finding different methodologies to drive that awareness amongst employees. And we’ve definitely spent a lot more time on and I’ve actually really enjoyed that journey as well. Cause I love doing different things. 

But on the flip side of that, it’s morphed really nicely into well, okay employee loyalty. So, okay. So we want them to do something. But are they happy employees? And we know that if someone’s a satisfied employee, that has a really big correlation to profitability and performance within the business. And so how do we tie education, getting our message across as well, but also rewarding them for active participation with it, but also and make it and making them happy. 

Paula: Totally. 

Lisa: So we’ve done a lot of things this year on that. 

Paula: Amazing. Well, I want to pick up on both of them, Lisa. The first one I want to pick up on, of course, is my personal passion. You won’t be surprised. But for me, I’ve been talking to a lot of program owners about whether they have you know, to go back to your point earlier, actually about simplicity, whether they should be looking at audio and podcasts for their members.

And it’s an idea. Nobody’s done it, but it’s something I think somebody will do and let’s see. But interestingly, two brands came back and said, no, we don’t need it for our members, but we do need it for our employees. 

Lisa: Oh interesting, interesting.

Paula: So we’re currently building certainly at one in luxury retail. And again, it’s a global brand. And what they’re saying is we want the internal PR, we want the motivation, the inspiration, and we know that they’re not going to get it from a one off PowerPoint. So that’s a really big trend that we’re seeing as well.  

Lisa: But look at as well, you know, when you think about communicating and it’s the same, whether it’s internal, whether it’s B2C to your customers, I think there’s fatigue with email and SMS. 

Paula: Totally.

Lisa: No. Last time we talked about WhatsApp, I’m a big WhatsApp advocate. I know it’s, also controversial. 

Paula: Of course. 

Lisa: You don’t wanna spam people, but you know, the right relevant context, it can be done really well. But there are so many other ways to engage with people. And we are stuck in this SMS email thing. And we need to project them and think of other ways. I’m glad where I’m aligned.

Paula: Totally.

Lisa: It’s great to hear, and I am a big advocate for that as well. So let’s see, watch this space. 

Paula: Indeed. Yes. And I will make sure with the team, of course, to link in our show notes to a great example I found which was surprisingly available publicly, but I did listen to, and it is a private staff podcast for American Airlines.

Lisa: Oh, no way. Amazing. 

Paula: So an extraordinary brand. What actually blew my mind is they had the CEO on, but only at the start of the second season. It was almost like they had so much else to talk about in the first season that the CEO was actually relegated to the second one. 

Lisa: Fair enough. 

Paula: It was quite funny listening to it. But I suppose the terminology that we’re hearing as podcasters is private podcasts and the tech is becoming really good. So we can create a podcast, put it on Apple podcasts, but only available to certain people by, you know, privacy and protected for employees. So there’s a lot that we’re going to talk about, I think, in the future for that.

Lisa: But there’s so much content, even listening to you talk now, I was thinking it makes sense to me that the CEO is, they came later because there is so much opportunity for content. And especially in a lot of programs you have incentives. Certainly in the hospitality industry, there’s often front desk incentives to enroll, enroll members. And they get paid if they enroll certain amount of members, right? It’s an incentive program.

But imagine if you’ve got your top incentive earner coming on a podcast and saying how he does it, how he makes a customer feel special, how does he optimize his ability to get this incentive? There’s so much content. You can generate, you can interview the employee and get their excitement and then they feel special because they feel like I’ve been singled out and I’m now showing my wisdom. I feel important. There’s so many knock on effects of it. And I think of content all day. So yeah, I love. I love the idea of something different. 

Paula:  Exactly. 

Lisa: I think it will take off. 

Paula: And you briefly commented Lisa as well. And I will say that my belief is also about rewarded content. You know, so create it. But again, if it’s a behavior that you want people to take, then why not give reward? You know, it’s not that expensive at the end of the day for any corporation to push, particularly if there is a program. And that’s what I want to come to actually next. 

So what are you hearing about the actual employee loyalty programs? I know you’ve had a lot of inbound interest this year. What kind of approach our brands certainly in this region taking? Are they, I suppose, duplicating or taking a version of the consumer program? Or they build completely build separate program, HR perspective? Give us some insight in terms of employee loyalty programs. 

Lisa: Yeah, and I think the answer to that is both, really. And I think where it can, it could be part of the existing program. And I see that a lot in existing travel hospitality brands. And I mean, for me, that makes the most sense. And I’ve got a great example, and I’m going to mention one of my old employees here, employers. 

When I first came to Dubai nearly 20 years ago, I worked for Jumeirah. 

Paula: Beautiful.

Lisa: Great four years of my life. I loved it. And they had a staff benefit program, which I still have today in a slightly different form. And what that meant in those first four years of my time in Dubai is that I only ate out at Jumeirah restaurants. 

Paula: Wow.

Lisa: And so when I left Jumeirah, I was like, I don’t know where to die. I don’t know where to go. 

Paula: Extreme loyalty. 

Lisa: I only know Jumeirah restaurants because we had such a great discount program. 15 years later, I am still going to Jumeirah and because some of those restaurants are still there. Okay. I’ve branched out, but I know I also go out to other places, but what for a good few years thereafter, I would just take, if I had friends or family visiting, I would go to Zheng He’s because I knew it and I tasted the food. I knew it was excellent. 

And so there’s such value in bringing your employees in. And I feel so sad when I see programs or brands that don’t allow their customers, their employees, sorry, to experience their brand and their program. Because the knock on effect that, that has is great. And the longevity on that, and Jamir is a great example. But we ha we, we do work with companies that want separate programs. Because you have to look at it as well, is that sometimes in, depending on the organization, depending on the program, you have different layers of staff. 

Paula: Okay, sure. That’s true. Of course. 

Lisa: And the needs and wants of the different layers are very different. 

Paula: Interesting. 

Lisa: And it doesn’t necessarily have to be that you are providing financial value either. And some of the things that we’ve worked on is that sometimes people don’t have budget to always give financial value. Because it’s just unfortunately not within the capabilities. 

But there are things that employees find just as valuable to them that can be used. Things like the opportunity to join trainings, extra medical, lunch vouchers, access to gyms, one extra day off, lunch with the CEO, having your opportunity for your voice to be heard. I mean, it’s so underrated, but like the opportunity to be heard totally is such a powerful value.

And so it doesn’t always have to be about the financial. It obviously everyone wants. Everyone wants the financial dirhams. 

Paula: A few extra dirhams. Totally.

Lisa: Doesn’t go amiss. But yeah, also thinking about this holistically from what value you’re trying to derive across all the layers? How can you build a program that satisfies the value requirements and what things could we look at that go outside of financial remuneration that have value as well. 

Paula: Indeed. Yeah. 

Lisa: And that’s been also really enjoyable. We did some research and the things that came back were quite surprising. And with one company we were working with, we you, if you were the top performing staff member, you got to come and work in the corporate office for a week to shadow a department of your choice.

And that helped your, it helps your growth and your understanding, and then you get visibility with these people and, or you get first right to be interviewed for entry level positions in a corporate office. 

Paula: Amazing. Beautiful.

Lisa: Maybe you’ve been more frontline. So those have great value as well. So I really enjoy the employee side of things.

Paula: Lovely. Yeah.

Lisa: I’m very passionate about working with people. I love people and I love seeing value that can be transcended to people and the positive effect it has on them and how they feel. It’s really nice. 

Paula: Yeah. And I love that about how you work, Lisa. So yeah. And you alluded to it earlier as well. The one that I’ve really seen as well is that recognition piece, because actually it doesn’t matter what level you’re at. And I’ve seen, and again there’s technology platforms that do it, but the opportunity to publicly say, Lisa has done an extraordinary job. And for so many people across the business to have witness to that is something that will drive so much loyalty, totally.

Lisa: So that doesn’t cost anything. 

Paula: Exactly. Exactly. So probably under appreciated until it’s done. I think all you need is one example or to get that personal recognition. Maybe some of us have had some LinkedIn, maybe experience, which might be similar, but certainly internally, you can say a lot more about what that individual did. So I think we’re going to see a lot more about employee loyalty. 

Lisa: And you can put things on your CV, you know, ambassador badges, or I’ve, I became the number one ambassador for the program. It’s on my CV. Yeah. There’s lots of positives. 

Paula: Totally. 

Lisa: And I think it’s funny. I had a meeting this morning about exactly this. And you know, I think if I had some advice for companies, look at it, employee loyalty, I made up a new word there employee loyalty programs, let’s go above and beyond, you know, discounts. Let’s think about the whole, the employee as a whole and how we can add value to their lives, which is what we do in the consumer side.

Paula: Of course. 

Lisa: So let’s do exactly the same on the employee side. 

Paula: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Very good advice. You’ve reminded me that somebody told me about a particular employee loyalty program for crew of an airline. Now I haven’t yet found details out about that, but watch this space because I was instantly going, Oh my God, how has nobody ever talked to me about this before? So open invitation, any airlines liestening. If you’ve got a crew employee loyalty program, please come and be our guest. 

Lisa: I’ll listen.

Paula: Totally. Totally. Well, listen, Lisa, as always, it has been a masterclass in everything to do with loyalty, particularly in this region. You are my go to person. I’ve often said before in terms of when I have a question about loyalty. Be it strategy, be it business casing. Now customer journey mapping of course is on my radar or something that you’re, you know, super passionate about and the whole employee loyalty area. 

So that’s all the questions I have from my side. Are there any other big topics that we haven’t touched on already that you think we should touch on before we wrap up?

Lisa: Oh gosh. 

Paula: There’s always something, but again, it’s not the last time we’re going to talk. So no pressure. 

Lisa: Okay. Let’s think about that. Let’s choose one. I think one of the top, one of the things that I think also lets program delivery down or maybe doesn’t live up to expectation is this subject matter of personalization and it’s also a key bugbear of mine.

Paula: Indeed.

Lisa: And something that we also spend a lot of effort and time working with our clients on. And I think in the next year or so, I think next time we talk, I think we’re going to really delve into the notion of hyper personalization and how people are getting, are moving towards doing that. Because at the moment we’re not quite there. 

Paula: We’re not even scratching the surface, Lisa, and I know you and I are doing a panel discussion as well in the coming weeks.


Lisa: Yes.

Paula: And that’s actually a top topic. 

Lisa: You too? Oh, great.

Paula: That the other guests on the panel. So you heard it here first, but for sure. 

Lisa: I can prepare now. 

Paula: You can, yeah. So hyper personalization. I totally agree. And I think it’s not for lack of interest or awareness or anything. I think everybody listening to this show wants nothing more than to hyper personalize, but they just don’t have maybe the tech or the bandwidth, dare I say.

Lisa: Or the roadmap to know how. 

Paula: Correct. Yeah. 

Lisa: And that’s a big part of it.

Paula: Okay. So that’s a, that’s teeing us up, which means you have to come back to Loyalty TV. 

Lisa: I’m very happy to.

Paula: So very happy to amazing, great stuff. So listen, you’ve gotten us off to an amazing start for 2024. So I just want to say thank you so much, Lisa. It has been an absolute joy to once again, pick your brains. 

So Lisa Brightwell Founder and Managing Director of bright insights consulting. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty and Loyalty TV. 

Lisa: Thanks Paula. 

Paula: This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer. The world’s most popular source of loyalty marketing news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which is already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. 

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

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