#482: Out of Adversity Comes the Release of Two Loyalty Books, and Both Deserve a Place on Every Desk

Amanda Cromhout interviews Phil Shelper, Founder & CEO of Loyalty Reward & Co.

Phil is the author of Loyalty programs: The Complete Guide. Phil released the first edition in 2020 after many months of COVID and the time to face adversity.

The 2nd edition was released in October 2023. Amanda released Blind Loyalty – 101 Loyalty Concepts Radically Simplified in  September 2023 after very personal adversity from personal health challenges in 2022.

During this podcast, the authors debate how the books are similar in parts but overall vastly different and what is the major take home value for their readers.

Show Notes:

1) Phil Shelper

2) Loyalty Reward & Co⁠

3) Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide (2nd Edition)

4) Blind Loyalty – 101 Loyalty Concepts Simplified

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 show is hosted by my colleague, Amanda Cromhout, the Founder of Truth, an international loyalty consultancy firm based in Cape Town, South Africa. If you work in loyalty marketing, make sure to join Let’s Talk Loyalty every Tuesday, every Wednesday and every Thursday to learn the latest ideas from loyalty experts around the world.

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Amanda: Today’s Let’s Talk Loyalty interview is an interview with a difference. I talked to Phil Shilper, he’s the CEO of Loyalty & Reward Co. And the author of Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide, which is just released at second edition. 

The difference with today’s interview with Phil Shelper is we actually discussed two loyalty books. We compare Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide and my book, Blind Loyalty. What we immediately understood was out of adversity came the release of these two loyalty books. Phil released the first version of Loyalty Programs: A Complete Guide straight after COVID in 2020. And I released Blind Loyalty this year after very serious personal health issues, both of which gave us time to reflect and to write these books. 

Given Phil’s high education in consumer psychology, you can imagine he has absolute focus on the consumer throughout his book. I hope you enjoy this short interaction where I interview Phil and Phil Shelper interviews me about our books, Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide and Blind Loyalty.

So today I have a slightly different interview with a very special gentleman who I can’t wait to talk to. We’re going to actually discuss two incredible loyalty reads, two incredible loyalty books that are in the market as we speak. 

So Phil Shelper, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. Phil is the CEO of Loyalty and Reward Co. Hi, Phil. 

Phil: Hi, Amanda. Great to be here. 

Amanda: Yeah, it’s great to have you. And as I say, we’re going to have a slightly different format for Let’s Talk Loyalty today. It’s not just going to be me hosting a heap of questions. We’re actually going to compare the two books. 

So I’ll get into the books in a little while, but you know, the famous first question of Let’s Talk Loyalty. So Phil, what’s your favorite loyalty program? 

Phil: Yeah, it’s a great question. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t know if I even have one. I tend to frequent loyalty program industries that have efficient rewards where the company is able to deliver lots of value for not much cost to them. So airline programs, cinema programs, hotel programs, that sort of thing. All of the ladies in my team love the cosmetics programs with all the free samples and everything. 

If I had to say one program, I’d probably say the Waldorf Astoria in New York, which you can’t even really call it a program. It’s probably more a pure engagement program. They use clienteling software in order to identify the likes and needs of their guests and tailor the whole experience around them. So what flowers they like, their favorite coffee and cocktail, the types of sheets that they like, the newspaper they read. So when they come and stay, everything is perfectly tailored to what is is their greatest needs including being provided with a concierge to help plan their trip and make sure that it’s extra special. 

Amanda: Wow. That’s incredible. 

Phil: Yeah, most companies don’t, yeah, most companies can’t really rise to that level, but I think all companies should definitely try.

Amanda: That’s incredible. And, you know, I think, you know, in the chapter 100 of Blind Loyalty, I did an exercise for Let’s Talk Loyalty over what is this million dollar question that we ask at the start of the interview that Paula started many, many months ago in January 2022. And we’ve got a list of the top 100, but Waldorf Astoria certainly doesn’t feature. So that’s a new one we can add to the list.

And as you say, like they’re managing to achieve the personalization levels that most brands just aspire to. So I can’t wait to understand that more. Thank you. It’s a new one for probably virtually everyone listening to this. Love that. That’s one of the reasons I think Paula introduced this question. So we get to hear about new and amazing loyalty initiatives. Great. So thanks, Phil. 

So before we get into like the real heart of why we’re chatting today, you’ve created an incredible company, Loyalty and Reward Co. I’d be absolutely wrong to say you’re based, I know you’re physically based in Australia, but I think in a moment, I’m going to ask you to tell us more about the global loyalty consultancy of Loyalty and Reward Co.

But before we do that, how did you get to where you are so in depth in the loyalty industry? 

Phil: Yeah, I actually started my career in loyalty at Vodafone. I was there for eight years in mostly in marketing and I spent some time in the loyalty and retention team that led to me getting a role at Qantas Frequent Flyer. I was there for four years working on program design and got to launch some really amazing new products and initiatives. 

And when I left there, I actually got contacted by a consultancy who was working with EL AL Airlines in Israel. They wanted some subject matter expertise on, on loyalty programs, and I worked with them and EL AL Airlines for a year providing them with remote consulting support they would provide me with a list of questions they wanted answers to. I prepare a presentation and then have a workshop every two weeks and just did that for 12 months. 

And I thought, well, I think there’s actually a company in that and built Loyalty & Reward Co out of that single project. I then was very, very fortunate in picking up some major brands early on in my career and built the company forward based on that I think the main thing that. 

I think the main thing that I saw was, there was a lot of people who were working in the loyalty industry, but there weren’t many people who were joining lots and lots of loyalty programs and really seeing what was going on all around the world. And so I just started joining lots of loyalty programs and writing about them and building out case studies and use that to, to build up my expertise. And I was also, I also did a double major in psychology at university and really loved the idea of consumer psychology being woven into loyalty program design. So I spent a lot of time researching loyalty psychology as well and went from there. 

Amanda: You’re the second person I’ve interviewed actually on Let’s Talk Loyalty who’s been educated to like the highest level in psychology. And it’s amazing how it is such an important input into consumer psychology and obviously loyalty programs. So I know it’s a real passion of yours and we’ll, I’m sure we’ll get into that in a moment when we talk about the book. So great. Well, thank you. Thanks for sharing that. 

So you actually are one of the individuals who is true to the core, a loyalty person from when you started your career cause some of the individuals we interview have had some super interesting and off the beaten track journeys to loyalty, but yours was loyalty from the start. So fantastic.

So Phil, tell us a little bit about Loyalty & Reward Co. I mean, I don’t think the listeners of let’s talk loyalty need too much introduction because you’re not just based in Australia. You are a global company now. Tell us a little bit about the country where you are at countrywide so that the listeners can understand that and a little bit of what you do for your clients. 

Phil: Yeah. So Loyalty & Reward Co designed the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands were based in New York, London, Sydney, and Melbourne but we’ve got projects all around the world. So we’ve got active projects at the moment in Latin America, the US, Europe, the UK, Saudi Arabia and of course, Australia and New Zealand. So we really try to be as global as we can. And as you just mentioned, we’ve invested heavily in our expansion to to the US and the UK over the past 12 months. And it’s already paying dividends. We’ve picked up a number of really good quality clients over there. And we’re really excited about our global future.

Amanda: Yeah, amazing. Fantastic. Well, congratulations on your recent office opening in New York. That’s very exciting. And I’m sure the listeners, I know this the audience of Let’s Talk Loyalty is very US centric as well as global, but I’m sure they’ll be excited to hear about that. All right. 

So Phil, the real purpose of our discussion today is to compare two fantastic loyalty reads I’m going to say that with no bias, no, no humility whatsoever. So you and I have both been discussing recently with lots of loyalty professionals, the two separate books that we have both published into the industry. Now yours is your second edition and I’m going to unpack that in a moment. But for the listeners today, what we are doing is comparing the vast difference of Blind Loyalty, 101 Loyalty Concepts Radically Simplified, which is a book that I’ve released and Paula has interviewed me previously on Loyalty TV about it.

And then Phil’s second edition of Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide. So it’s been in the market a lot longer with its first edition, but the second edition is also recently released. And we’re both excited to discuss this with you because they are so different. They can offer so much to any loyalty professional in different ways.

So before I get into that, having written one edition myself, I’m absolutely in awe of the fact that you’ve released your second edition because I know how much work it is. So tell us a little about your history of writing the book in the first place. When was that first edition and yeah, how have you got as far as you’ve got with it so far?

Phil: Yeah, so I probably similar to yourself, Amanda, I was always astonished about the fact that no one has ever written a book telling people everything they need to know about loyalty programs. So if we look at when and loyalty programs date back to you, you’re talking 1850s New York where we see concrete evidence of the first loyalty program. And yet we’re in you know, the 2000s and that there wasn’t a book that existed. So when I started my career in loyalty, I was always looking for how can I educate myself about this industry and there just wasn’t anything out there. So I determined to be the person that was going to write that book.

It was, we were building up within Loyalty & Reward Co, a lot of material and a lot of content that we could use. But trying to find time to actually sit down and do it was always going to be a challenge. But then in March 2020, the whole world went into lockdown with the first COVID outbreak.

And if you remember at that time, the whole world stopped. Nothing was happening. Everyone just said, wait, let’s see what happens here. But also everyone started moving on to video calls as well and learning how to use Zoom and Google Meet and Teams. So it was very interesting time that has changed the world forever.

So at that time, I said to my team, right, well, we need something to do. So why don’t we write that book that we’ve been talking about? So we started writing it and we had advanced draft of it done Iin about four months. And then we went through the process of formatting and launching it and that was the first edition which we thought was a pretty good effort.

But as soon as we’d launched it, we came across all of this additional information that we wanted to include. So we thought, well, okay, we’re gonna have to write a second edition soon and probably a third edition. So why don’t we plan to do a second edition in two years? But last year was a bit crazy for us, so we, we tried this year at the start of this year, we sat down and said, right, why don’t we just make some small changes to it? We’ll update some of the case studies and maybe adjust a few things here and there, but we’ll keep it pretty similar. But we can say we’ve launched the second edition and then, of course, we got started on it and we absolutely went to town.

So the second edition’s got 25% more pages. We’ve in increased the number of case studies from 150 to 170. We’ve added two new chapters and completely rewritten another two or three chapters. And you know, it’s it’s pretty good. But even now having launched in October, I’ve already got a long list of additional things that I want to add.

So we’ve already started planning the third edition. And I think this is something that we should be discussing as part of our conversation now is just how fast the loyalty industry moves so you can get a book out and as soon as you’ve got that book out, it’s already starting to date because so much is happening so quickly that you really do need to be doing regular addition updates to keep it as fresh as possible.

Amanda: Definitely. I mean, the minute I pressed, I signed the authority for Blind Loyalty to go to the printers, the second I signed that, it was out of date. So, kind of accept that. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. Well, you’ve answered the question, I think, around my, what I love, I love asking someone like yourself, because everyone asks me this question, like what inspired you to write it?

So I think unless I’ve missed anything, what you said was actually because you’ve always wanted that perfect handbook to just have it all together in one place. Is that correct? 

Phil: Yeah, that’s right. And I even use it myself. So I’ve got a copy of it on the desk. I, for the most part, have forgotten a lot of what’s in the book itself.

So when I’m creating strategic documents for clients or writing a blog article or whatever, I just use it as a reference guide in order to provide some additional content and make sure that I’m getting all the facts right as well. So it’s really good like that. I’d struggle to sit down and read it cover to cover.

You’d have to be a pretty big loyalty nerd to do that. But it’s a great reference guide for people who are wanting something to dive in and go really deep on, on particular subjects. That’s for sure. 

But I’m also interested, Amanda, from you what inspired you to to write Blind Loyalty?

Amanda: Slightly differently actually, Phil, so thank you for raising it. It is something I’ve, previously. It’s a mixture of things. So, a bit like you, I’ve always wanted to write a book because there’s so much knowledge swirling around my head and the team and the consultancy business and I just thought it’d be fantastic to put it in one place and hope it can be a useful tool for others.

I think that was the original intention, but it was on my to do list for 100 years almost. Obviously not quite that long. It was probably on my to do list for about 10 years. And 10 years ago, I didn’t have enough insight to be able to do it effectively. But I never got around to it, and I think now I understand why.

I didn’t get around to it, not because I procrastinated, because I wasn’t ready, and I couldn’t see the reason for doing it. And I also joke often, like, who actually wants to read a loyalty book? And I mean that with most respect towards your book, or my own, or other brilliant loyalty books out there. But my thought process of actually formulating how the book was going to come together was when I was very sick and I think, you know, and many people in the industry know and have been incredibly supportive that I was very sick last year on a three month out of work, couldn’t lift my head off a pillow through a very traumatic eye disease, that in that moment when you have nothing to do but to think because you can’t read, you can listen, but you can’t read or watch TV or anything, you know, I did a lot of thinking and it came to me then how I wanted to write the book which we’ll compare the two structures of our books in a moment because they are so vastly different.

And it came to me then and then I had the courage to formulate it in my mind and hence the title of the book, Blind Loyalty the play on the word blind and Blind Loyalty. So very different circumstances, but yours obviously similar, like you came out of a very tragic time of COVID. And I came out of a very personally tragic time of an illness that helped me almost find the inspiration. So different, but similar, I think from what I didn’t know that about COVID timing. So that was actually very interesting to hear. 

Phil: And don’t you think it is interesting, right? Because without COVID, Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide may never have been written without your. Health issue, blind loyalty may never have been written, right? So it’s adversity can be a very interesting thing in one’s life. 

Amanda: Very much so. And that’s actually one of the biggest learnings for me personally, very much. Great point there, Phil. Yeah, very much. So out of adversity comes strength. So yeah, great. I love that. I love that. I think that might be the title of this chapter of this podcast.

So let’s go, let’s talk about the structure of the two books. I’ll obviously be able to share with everyone the structure of Blind Loyalty, but as I say, I know it, yours is vastly different. And as you said, You have your book on your own desk. I have Blind Loyalty on my desk and I have your book on my desk as a reference as well. So talk the listeners through the structure of the book and how one would benefit from having it on the desk. 

Phil: Yeah. So we’re structured it into two parts. So the first part is everything related to theory. The History of Loyalty Programs Psychology Rewards Academic research, so we asked the question, do loyalty programs even work, which I think is an important question that anyone working in the loyalty industry should ask.

And then the second part is focused on loyalty program design and implementation. So we take people through something that we refer to as our member engagement ecosystem. Which means using a loyalty program in order to build out a full distant digital transformation across the company. So implementing the loyalty program, collecting first and zero party data, structuring that data in order to be able to generate reporting and relevant insights through analysis, building out a good quality lifecycle management strategy through loyalty marketing and forming that into a full omni channel personalization strategy, everything around technology, everything around security and fraud, the future of loyalty programs, all that sort of stuff. 

So a lot of theory, but also a lot of practical application there and lots of case studies so that when we put forward some theory or an insight that’s in illustrated with how a loyalty program around the world is actually applying that in a real world setting. 

Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Wonderful. And so thorough, like just through and through, you know, just cover front cover to back cover. It’s definitely, as I said, like last week, I think I said to you when we were chatting previously, I needed to check a fact about something that I knew I hadn’t gone into that level of detail and I reached for your book and, you know, could find the chapter that I needed to just double check my thinking or add a lovely another case study that I could reference your book for so. So yeah, thank you. It’s very thorough. I think it’s probably fair then I give the same comparison to, to comparison or contrast. 

Phil: Yeah, that would be great because you’re obviously structured in a very different way. So I’m very keen to, yeah, to yeah, hear about the, how you structured the book, but also the inspiration for structuring that way, I think is, would be really interesting also.

Amanda: Yes, and they’re both relevant. So, so Blind Loyalty for everyone listening is very different in the sense that it’s 101 chapters, which might sound utterly terrifying, but it’s 101 chapters of two pages a chapter. So I’ve structured it from almost start to finish of the thinking process of creating and building and launching and running a loyalty program.

So the first, there are five sections, so to speak within which there are 101 chapters in totality. So the first section is around strategy and data. So not dissimilar to yours. The second one is around designing a loyalty program. The third area is industry excellence. So we really showcase some of the great loyalty industries. The fourth one then is launching and managing a loyalty program and the fifth section is my concluding thoughts. And 101 chapters, two pages, literally are two pages. I didn’t allow one word further. I’ve got some great contributors to the book, which we can share because I know you have as well. We can share those in a moment. 

But my principle around the 101 chapters of two page soundbites, but solid soundbites, it’s not surface level insight, it’s in depth detail, is so that you can pick up the book, check in the contents page, find the piece you’re trying to understand deeply. It might be emotional loyalty, it might be retention, it might be KPIs, it might be choosing your tech partner, whatever it is, and read two pages on it.

And there’s obviously references if I’ve quoted other amazing professionals or companies around the world where you can go and find out more. A lot of Let’s Talk Loyalty shows are referenced there’s really great insights as well. So, so yeah, it is very different and more of a soundbite approach. So, I kind of in my own mind thought, you know, most of us these days, certainly the way I work, I prefer short shop insights and also to simplify.

Truth, our businesses is focused on, I call it, you know, radical simplification. So trying to take this complex world of loyalty, because it is complex and make it simpler for everyone. So it’s different, but I’m not saying I think they both have an absolute, and I, it’s because they’re so different. I believe shamelessly. Every loyalty professional should have both on the desk, because I think you can get absolutely, there’s different insights and different learnings from both of them, even if it’s around the same subject matter. 

Phil: Yeah, I’d agree. The thing that that blew me away about Blind Loyalty is just how those 101 on different themes for each chapter, it’s just so comprehensive, like it literally covers absolutely everything. There is not a single thing that you have not included as part of that. It’s the comprehensiveness of it is quite astonishing. 

Amanda: Yeah, well, thank you. But interestingly, I’ll disagree with you because the minute you launch it, you know, you’re out of date, right? As you said, right at the start. And I think one of the things I know we want to talk about is, you know, is there a place for books in the world of AI? And I think AI has become the newest buzzword that I don’t think I mentioned it once or twice in the book, not in any detail. So, like you, I can already see different editions that are required.

But, okay, so I mentioned external contributors because they’re quite a big part of Blind Loyalty, but I do know for yourself, for, and The Complete Guide, Loyalty Program’s Complete Guide, you’ve also got external contributors. And I know personally, that was a very rewarding process. So, I’m going to go straight to the question of what did you actually learn from working with external contributors?

Phil: Yeah, so I’ve got a combination. So I had 3 staff members. So, Stacey, Scott and Ryan each contribute entire chapters as part of the book, which was amazing because they’ve got expertise in different areas that, that was really useful. But then as you’ve mentioned we had Michael Smith. And Lincoln Hunter also contribute.

I think for me, the main thing is just a recognition that I don’t know everything. And there’s experts out there in particular fields who know way more than I do. So being able to draw on those people and get them involved in contributing to the book gave me a sense that it was going to be a lot better than if I had tried to tackle it on my own.

Michael is really the leading security and fraud loyalty person on the planet. So to have him involved in in writing the security and fraud chapter was just exceptional. I think it’s one of my favorite chapters on the book, reading all of the different ways that fraud and security hacks have infected the industry, and they only seem to be getting bigger and worse and more frequent. So, really I hope that anyone in the law industry reads that chapter and, and takes it to heart and puts in as many preventative measures as they possibly can to avoid being the next major loyalty program that is hacked in front page news. 

And then, of course Lincoln is one of the leading loyalty legal experts on the planet. I first met Lincoln when I was at Qantas Frequent Flyer, he was general counsel there, and then he left in order to start up his own practice which specializes in providing legal advice to major, major loyalty companies and doesn’t incredible job. That chapter in particular was very tough to write because law is so jurisdiction and country specific. So we could really only focus on what what Lincoln was prepared to include, which was primarily around Australian law but trying to make it as general to the world as possible. I think we got a really great balance there. He’s never happy with it. So every time I talk with him, he talks about how it could be improved.

But from my perspective, I just did a wonderful job there. And once again, there’s no way I could have written that chapter with, without his support. So it’s definitely made for a much better book as a result. 

And what about yourself, Amanda? Because you’ve got some really great contributors in your book. I think you kind of, followed the same approach. 

Amanda: Yeah, so I particularly wanted contributors exactly as yourself, where I’m definitely not an expert and so, and, but then I had quite a few contributors to the industry excellence sector. So if I was talking about grocery retail, I spoke to a young lady, Melissa, who’s Head of Marketing at a grocery retailer or CEO of eBucks, or former CEO of eBucks, Johan Moolman, to talk about financial retail banking, they having walked away the best long term international loyalty program or in telco or airline and so forth. 

But I think the two chapters that stand out the most for me in terms of where I absolutely wouldn’t have made any decent efforts of unpacking it properly were liability. So we had Len Llaguno, who’s the Founder of Managing Partner of KYROS, he spoke through liability. He’s been on Let’s Talk Loyalty, talking to Paula as well about loyalty liability. He really is, in my opinion, world’s expert in it and just broke it down into its component parts. And it’s a real, you know. It’s one of those subjects that all the, you know, financial teams and business leaders are worried about as soon as you start talking about loyalty. 

And then the area that probably interests me personally the most, just because of my airline background as well, was from Evert de Boer, who’s the Managing Partner On Point Loyalty. And he spoke around you know, the some parts of financial frequent flyer programs, how they’re worth so much more than the actual airline valuation. So that was, and that’s such a hot topic all the time, particularly as we know, post COVID with how the carriers have really made the loyalty programs standalone profit centers. 

And that there’s just so many others that I’ve learned so much more from and some of them are very good friends in the industry and they gladly offered their insight. And I think it makes more interesting reading rather than just being myself. And cause they can bring in different case studies and so forth. So that’s what I particularly enjoyed about the components, the component parts of Blind Loyalty is getting so many different contributors together. 

So, yeah, so I think Phil. I’ve got a couple of other questions I’d like to bring together, bring this discussion to a close with, but you’ve referenced how individuals have this on or you have it on your desk. Yeah, is there anything else you want to really say about what you want people to get out of, out of your book, out of Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide. 

Phil: Yeah, look, I think for me, the main thing is being inspired by the possibilities of what the best practice loyalty program can be and what it can do. There’s way too many boring vanilla badly designed loyalty programs out there. So many programs where consumers are invited to join up. And then all that really happens is they just get starting start getting smashed with email after email programs where consumers just don’t get any real value out of it. And so they disengage. 

So, hopefully you know, multi professionals around the world pick up the book and read it and think about the fact that their program could be so much better and not only inspired to improve the program or to implement a best practice program. But they’ve now got the knowledge at their fingertips to be able to construct a reasonable argument to senior management as to why it is the right thing to do as a formal strategy. Yeah, that would be great.

Amanda: I think as you said, like, fraud you’re the area on fraud, the chapter on fraud. I mean, I’ve just come up with three day workshop with a client last week, and I would say over 50 percent of the discussion, even if the discussion was around the tech processing or the sign on process and call center role and so on was around safeguarding against fraud. So absolutely. If people can at least get that out of picking up your book, that’s a fantastic start for everyone. 

Phil: That’s right. And what about yourself? 

Amanda: Brutally? I, it’s obviously very similar to yourself, but also, it’s a very personal read. And I think that’s because of how your question you asked me around how it came about.

It’s not a commercial and it’s not a commercial enterprise for myself or Truth. So a hundred percent of the profits go to the Blind Loyalty Trust. The Blind Loyalty Trust is to help individuals who may be going through or went, have gone through what I went through, this terrifying eye problems to get the care that they need. And we’re already able to help a lot of individuals in that way because the loyalty industry has supported us so incredibly. So there are quite a few chapters that refer back to like that side of life, like how loyalty programs can play a role in helping others. My own personal journey of Blind Loyalty to individuals who doesn’t matter if they had a loyalty program or not. I’d never changed my loyalty to them in the professional field. 

So from that point of view, I think in individuals who want a very professional educational loyalty readers. You said there’s 101 chapters and I would say one or two of them really give you a deep insight into how, how Blind Loyalty versus a loyalty program works from a psychology point of view, you know, exactly your starting point. So yeah it’s very much for me. I want people to enjoy the book. I want them to pick it up, feel great that they’ve bought it because it contributes also to a higher purpose. And know that we’re changing people’s lives through the profits of the book. 

So it is a bit of a, not a double edged sword in a negative sense. There’s a double strategy with it. It’s educational for loyalty professionals, but also supports the trust. So, It’s obviously a very personal mission. And anyone who’s followed anyone who listens to me knows I kind of talk about it a lot. It’s very important for the industry. 

So, but I think one of the things I wanted to ask to conclude on today was have we completely and utterly wasted our time writing a loyalty book? If you think about it in the world of AI and Antavo have just launched there. The Loyalty AI, Genius AI, I think it’s called and actually Blind Loyalty feeds into the back of that. Like in a world of AI, is there even a place for a book? Is it even, have we completely wasted our time? What are your thoughts on that?

Phil: Yeah, look I think that there’s still plenty of room for books in the world. The thing about AI and the way that it works at the moment is it’s really serving up an answer based on probability. So what you ask will influence the answer that you get. And if you ask a different question, the same question in a different way you’ll get a different answer.

It, it doesn’t provide the real depth of what you might be looking for. And there’s, at the moment, a lot of the AI engines are also demonstrating hallucinations, which means that the answer that it provides may or may not be true. So I think people need to be a little bit wary in terms of having a play with AI. It’s certainly very useful. And in fact, we even used it ourselves to help us construct some of the new chapters of the book. And that worked incredibly well for us, but there’s nothing like picking up a book and really diving into the detail and learning everything you can about a subject.

And I think that’s where the the book still has a long way to go in addition to understanding the right questions to ask. I mean, the thing about loyalty is it’s so ridiculously complicated and it seems to just get more and more complicated each year. Sometimes I just have to stop and take a breath and just marvel at how overly complicated the the whole industry is.

So without actually having a base understanding of how the whole thing works, how would you even know what questions to ask an AI engine? You’d only really ever get surface level detail, which wouldn’t be nearly sufficient to operate a best practice program.

Amanda: Yeah, very much so. Interestingly, I picked up a post on LinkedIn from Matt Sutton, who’s the CMO of The Black Tux. He was speaking with Phil Rubin and David Slavick at The Loyalty Summit recently. And he says, I’m going to quote it word for word. He says, despite being buzzword of the year, AI is remarkably practical and useful. If you look at it as a tactic or a delivery mechanism, not as a strategy. Combine it with great creative that has authenticity, candor, and humor, and you’ve got something really special.

And I thought that was magic. It’s almost the science and soul on its own. It’s just not enough. But combined with other elements of thought processes or marketing strategy and so forth, it can certainly add value, but on its own, it’s not enough. So that’s just to confirm what you said around AI has a place, but thank goodness it’s not going to replace the books that are either digital books or hard or soft copy books that are available. 

So Phil, will you write another book? 

Phil: Absolutely not. No way. I have actually written another book which was Blockchain Loyalties. So I got absolutely fascinated by companies in nine in 2017 and 2018, who had developed cryptocurrency based loyalty programs and raise very large amounts of money, like 10 to 12 million us through initial coin offerings.

And I wrote a first edition and then the following year wrote the second edition that once again, because that industry moves even faster than loyalty does. So rather than write the third edition of that, which I just literally don’t have the bandwidth for we actually retired the, those books earlier this year and we replaced that with a full chapter on Blockchain and Web Three in the Second Edition of Loyalty Programs: A Complete Guide.

So, our ambition is to write the third edition and the fourth edition and the fifth edition every two to three years in order to keep the book up to date and make sure that any new trends that we spot are incorporated. But writing something else probably not at this stage ask me that again when I’m 90 and I might be partway through my memoirs, but I’ve had a very interesting life, so I don’t think it would make for very good reading.

Amanda: I’m sure that last point is not correct. 

Phil: What about yourself, Amanda?

Amanda: I just don’t think that last point would be correct, that you’ve had an uninteresting life. Anyone who’s achieved what you’ve done, which is a global consultancy, and the release of a couple of books doesn’t sound that uninteresting to me.

I’m unlikely to I may release updated editions of Blind Loyalty, but it’s not, I don’t have a strategy like yourself to definitely do it every couple of years. I feel that, but I may well do so. I’m not sure, but there is another thought process on the horizon that like you started out at adversity comes strength, you know, so, often when I sign, sign a book for someone I say outta blindness comes vision. And some great things have come out of this terrible illness I went through in terms of the trust and the people I’ve met along the way, and the generosity of amazing human beings supporting it and the lives we can change through the Trust.

So that is potentially on the horizon, but it’s way too premature because we’ve only just started the Trust and the real beauty of that only kicks in once we’ve being able to help individuals and see the change, you know, so it’s unlikely I’ll write another loyalty book, but very much so might be talking the story of just how any individual in the world, any one of our listeners for Let’s Talk Loyalty, anyone in the whole world.

If you really want to, you can change the life of others through really little small actions. And so many listeners of Let’s Talk Loyalty have been part of the Blind Loyalty story for which I’m incredibly grateful. So, it doesn’t matter whether you founded Blind Loyalty Trust or whether you’re contributing to the trust or any other trust. If you’re doing that sort of thing, you’re changing the life of others, which I think it all makes more sense now. I’ve, you know, when you do, you combine that with your professional life or the professional life seems to make more sense. So possibly there’ll be another story around that, but probably not another loyalty book, but yeah, interesting time.

So that’s been an amazing comparison of the two books. I’m really grateful. I think it’s only fair to close off with where can individuals buy your book, Phil? Where is it available? 

Phil: Yes. So, listeners can buy Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide and Blind Loyalty on Amazon and at all leading bookstores. Please buy a copy. And if you do buy a copy. Please provide myself and Amanda with a five star review and we’ll love you forever. 

Amanda: Shameless, but I love it. Okay. That’s amazing. So thank you very much, Phil, for supporting not only your own book, but obviously the launch into the industry to help everybody, but also supporting the work I’ve done. I’m really grateful. 

So anything else you’d like to say to the audience of Let’s Talk Loyalty, Phil? 

Phil: No, that’s everything for me. Thank you for hosting Amanda. And I look forward to reading the second edition of Blind Loyalty. 

Amanda: Yeah, that’s the motivation. Great. Well, thank you for sharing the insights because I know a lot of people are talking about your book, so it’d be great for them to hear more about it and compare the two.

Wonderful. Thank you very much. Thanks for being on Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Phil: Thanks, Amanda.

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