#448: Investigating Railway Loyalty Innovation (Short Summary Show)

In this weeks episode of Let’s talk “a little” loyalty Tom reviews the original podcast where Paula was joined by Javier Marin Martinon, Chief Commercial, Loyalty, and Customer Officer, who shares what Renfe, Spains leading railway company, have implemented for members of its loyalty program.

Railway travel may appear to be a strange environment for loyalty, but Javier explains how loyalty must be seen in terms of the journey, with the competition against plane and car travel, rather than with the destination.

Listen in for tips on how to engage the customer and create loyalty in a difficult sector, where the choices are limited by supply and the benefits are intangible.

Hosted by Tom Peace.

Show Notes:

1) Javier Marin Martinon⁠

2) ⁠⁠⁠Renfe⁠

3) #254: Loyalty Innovation in the Railway Industry

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m Paula Thomas, the founder of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Today’s episode is hosted by Tom Peace, Managing Director of the Loyalty People, a strategic consultancy with a laser focus on loyalty, CRM, and customer engagement.

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Tom: Hi, I’m Tom Peace, Managing Director of The Loyalty People, and presenter of Let’s Talk a Little Loyalty. Welcome to this week’s short summary show. In this week’s episode of Let’s Talk a Little Loyalty, I’m reviewing the original podcast, where Paula spoke to Javier Martinon, Chief Commercial, Loyalty and Customer Officer, who shares what Renfe, Spain’s leading railway company, have implemented for members of its loyalty program.

Railway travel loyalty may appear to be a strange environment for customer loyalty, but Javier explains how loyalty must be seen in terms of the journey with the competition against plane and car travel rather than the destination. What really grabbed my attention is that Renfe had an Amazon Prime style loyalty program 25 years before Amazon even thought of it.

This started as the gold card aimed at the older generation and included a yearly subscription that unlocks a 25 percent discount on all travel. This program has been extremely successful and boasts 2 million members so far. Following the success of this program, Renfe also introduced an intercity variant, focused on Spain’s high speed train lines that offers a 30 percent discount in exchange for membership.

Javier also talks about how their competition is cars and air travel and how they can compete against cars in terms of speed over long journeys and with air travel in terms of cost. However, Renfe have very cleverly moved toward a partnership with airlines where customers can purchase one product that covers both air and rail travel, making it much easier to get to your destination in one go.

This really appeals to customers’ desire for convenience and stress-free traveling. Javier also talks about how important sustainability is becoming to today’s consumer, and rail travel is by far the most sustainable way to get to your destination. Renfe work very hard to ensure that customers understand the sustainable benefits of rail travel over other forms of travel. Renfe are also digitizing their membership. Which has advantages for customers in terms of a digital experience and great for Renfe in terms of data capture. However, many of Renfe’s customers are used to additional program and ticketing. So Javier is being very careful about moving away from this too quickly. So as not to alienate these customers. This requires a hybrid model, but this is a good move, in my opinion, as it’s not a good idea to force a customer to change the way they engage with the program if that method is well established, understood and accepted. Javier also talks about how important it is to create emotional connections and talks about a new initiative to connect with the customer on their birthday with a surprise and delight offer.

Emotional connections are really important to Renfe and Javier looks to his partners to create those moments within their earn and burn program. Javier uses their partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel in Madrid as an example of how top tier members can enjoy money can’t buy experiences that really engage them with the Renfe brand.

This has been a very interesting podcast to review since you’d intuitively think that a rail traveler, is only interested in the destination, not the carrier. But this has really opened my eyes, the fact that brands can create engagement in this difficult sector. You can find the main show at www. letstalkloyalty. com. And it first aired on the 27th of July, 2022, episode number 254. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed my summary show. All the best and speak to you soon. Tom.

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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