I had not attended the TES or Travel Executive Summit before so this was a fun chance to see just what it was all about.
Up first was the new CEO of SPG Starwood Preferred Guest hotels and brands. It was an interesting interview by Gary Leff who moderated all the panelists. Adam Aron has a lifetime on loyalty program background and no matter how long he is with SPG I think it will have a positive impact on a brand I already like very much.
Next up with had an AMEX rep talking about “Plenti” a new rewards program across many companies that will be launching on May 4th. I will reserve input on this new reward currency until it is up and running and we see how well we can do with it. I think the target audience will enjoy it and we, who are more just points enthusiasts, may be able to glean some good. Let’s give it some time and see.
The last group was the one I really wanted to hear from. It was interesting and at the same time surprising how little was said during the discussion. Here are some of the highlights from each guest.
From Chase. They know all about us who get cards often. It often takes YEARS to get a new card bonus paid out to us earned back for the bank. They feel allowing someone who has had a new card bonus over two years ago is a workable range to incentivise someone to come back to Chase again.
From US Bank. The best bit was when asked about banks paying out a new card bonus again. He related, with cold looks from the AMEX guest next to him, how he had an SPG card 8 years ago (but had forgotten he had it) and got it again as he was going to be staying at many SPG hotels that year. AMEX said NO to his new card bonus after meeting minimum spend. I agree that the AMEX stand on one bonus ever (only for personal cards btw not business) is not a wise move.
From AMEX. Just about nothing was said. I even asked some questions after the panel was over and was given a cold shoulder and told nothing. I am not sure why AMEX was on the panel.
From MasterCard. This panelist spoke for most of the event as so many questions were not questions the bank reps wanted to answer. Generic answers were shared that I think most of us already knew.
From Barclays. Much like US Bank, who is happy with the position and value proposition of the FlexPerks points, Barclays is happy with Arrival points and how it is received in the market. After the panel was over I asked if he ever thought Arrival could add transfer partners to make Arrival more than “just” a coach type redemption product making it an aspirational currency as well and was told there are no such plans but they had not ruled them out either. I would love to see this happen one day.
Overall this was an interesting part of the Freddie awards with proceeds going to charity. Ground breaking information? No, but interesting to hear some bits from those inside the business we enjoy reaping the benefits from. – René
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