#174: UK Travel Loyalty Expert Insights from "Head for Points" (Short Summary Show)

Let’s Talk Loyalty talked with Rob Burgess, a leading travel loyalty expert in the UK, who created HeadForPoints.com to share his ideas on how to get the best value from UK travel loyalty programmes.

In this short summary episode, I share the top three tips I learned from Rob for loyalty industry professionals, including travel and traditional and innovative retailers such as Pret a Manger’s new subscription loyalty programme, John Lewis departments stores and the iconic Danish café brand – Joe & the Juice.

Show Notes: 

1) Episode #56: Head for Points – Interview with the UK’s leading website for frequent flyers

Audio Transcript

Speaker 1 (0s):

Welcome to “Let’s Talk Loyalty”, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas for loyalty specialists around the world.

Happy new year, and welcome to 2022.

I always love this time of year so no matter how great the previous one was for all of you listening, I hope you’re as happy and hopeful as I am for the year ahead.

This year’s first episode is a summary of my first interview with Rob Burgess, the founder and editor of Head For Points, the UK’s biggest travel website targeted at frequent travellers, one, which has achieved over a million and a half page views every month.

Rob’s background is in banking, a career that involved detailed financial analysis of company balance sheets, and also included plenty of business class travel. So this combination of his professional understanding of how companies and customers behave created a real passion for loyalty programs, then he started writing about them and ultimately created head for points as a business around this, his favorite hobby. So what did I learn from Rob in this interview that I think is important for all of you listening? Firstly, Rob talked about how surprising it is that some of the UKs top travel loyalty programs don’t seem to bother to keep his team updated on their campaigns, even though his audience consists of the UKs most valuable frequent flyers and hotel guests. Now, Rob style of journalism, I would describe as fundamentally honest. So it may be they’re concerned he will write something negative about their program, but in reality, that will happen anyway, if they believe it’s necessary. Rob’s point was about professional courtesy and how PR departments in the UK sometimes focus only on traditional print media and maybe forget about online journalism websites like his one, despite the huge numbers and incredible levels of audience engagement. So the first point is simply for UK travel loyalty program managers to take the time, even once a year to have lunch or meet up with the head for points team and then their PR departments can keep them updated. As they launch new campaigns, it is a smart approach. And I think everyone benefits. The second point we talked about was an operational one, as Rob had just written a great story about British airways, updating their terms and conditions to give themselves permission to actually throw out any member of the executive club. If that member was found to be writing negative comments about them on social media and the controversial point was even if those comments were true, it is a fascinating change that I think probably slipped below the radar of most of their members, but definitely reminded me that at something that any of you listening might want to check your own terms and conditions, just to see if you have this risk covered off in your program, if you ever need to use it. And of course I hope you never will. Our third main topic was about coffee, loyalty programs, something Rob doesn’t usually write about, but we had a fascinating discussion about the brand new subscription program from , which is the UKs biggest coffee and Sandridge chain. Now unsurprisingly, given the impact of COVID on their footfall Pret chose to launch their UK loyalty program with a highly aggressive price point. And Rob was super impressed with how they executed this subscription campaign, having operated for 15 years previously with no loyalty program at all. I have to say from my side is now definitely a brand. I want to bring on the show to learn more about how it’s working for them. One year on, even more interestingly, during the UK lockdown, Rob had discovered a Danish coffee brand called Joe and the juice a brand I’m a huge fan of. And Rob definitely is now too. It’s not one that’s well-known yet internationally, but Joe and the juice runs a game of vacation style program, which has Rob totally engaged paying now even premium prices for their coffee, just so he can reach their next tier. Coincidentally, I had just written an article about Joe and the juice. So I would highly recommend you check out the full episode and hear us discuss these guys as a brilliant example of creating emotional loyalty. So if you’d like the full story, it’s in episode 56, and again, from my side, this is another retailer that I’m going to work on bringing on the show so we can all learn more from this exciting challenger brands. Finally, I asked Rob what UK business is earning customers loyalty. And he told me about the only department store that’s really still in business there when most of them are closing down. So again, do listen to the show, if you want to hear about the John Lewis department store, which is so well loved by UK consumers mainly led by their exceptional customer service in closing. I would love all of you to check out the head for point’s website and follow rapper just on LinkedIn and definitely subscribed to his email newsletters as his articles are always super insightful. If you want an honest opinion about what’s working in the UK loyalty travel industry, that’s it from this first episode of let’s talk loyalty in 2022. Join me again on Thursday. When I go back to South Africa and I’m chatting with e-books, which is the leading loyalty program that south African people say they simply cannot live without This show is sponsored by the wise market here. The world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing news insights and research. The wise marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its loyalty academy, which has already certified over 170 executives in 20 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise market tier.com and loyalty academy.org. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of let’s talk loyalty. If you’d like me to send you the latest show each week, simply sign up for the show newsletter on let’s talk loyalty.com and I’ll send you the latest episode to your inbox every Thursday, or just head to your favorite podcast platform. Find let’s talk loyalty and subscribe. Of course I’d love your feedback and reviews. And thanks again for supporting the show.