All hands on deck: taking experiential awards a step further


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A variety of loyalty programs offer behind-the-scenes opportunities as rewards or sweeps winnings–backstage passes at entertainment events, meet-and-greets with celebrities and sports stars, exclusive tours of a brand’s corporate facilities, and so on. Such rewards bestow customers with privilege, incredible perceived value, and grand, positive memories solidifying their relationship with the brand.

I like a recent loyalty program that takes such experiential rewards a step further. In early July, Costa Cruises will launch Favalosa, a new cruiseliner sailing from Italy. The Independent reports that “Favolosa will also be the second Costa Cruises vessel to take part in the line’s unique ‘ViceVersa ‘ program.” In the program, members of the cruise line’s CostaClub program are able to train as shiphands, don Costa uniforms, and spend a day working as a member of the staff.

To some, that may sound like work. To me, that sounds like fun–and from the success of the program, passengers agree with me. Personally, I love getting behind the scenes, especially when I do more than just observe. And it’s the participatory nature of ViceVersa that I appreciate so much from a loyalty-marketing perspective. The program delivers these benefits:

  • Uniqueness to the brand. The perk is truly differentiating.
  • Interactivity. This isn’t a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s a behind-the-scenes tour of duty–brand engagement at its most literal.
  • Self-expression. For instance, the many roles that members can play include musician and singer. For the musically inclined, this behind-the-scenes opportunity actually puts their talents front and center. The culinarily inclined can spend the day as a cook. Believe me, I’d love to spend a day as one of the cruise-line’s cooks–I make a mean Caribbean salsa, after all.
  • A sense of brand ownership. “I’m not just a member of a club. I’m a part of the team.”
  • Clear understanding of the brand’s value proposition, particular in service. What better way to understand excellent service than to experience the actual training in that service’s delivery?
  • Customer-to-customer word-of-mouth. The cruise line’s bartender can chat up the brand with a certain level of credibility, but imagine the even greater impact if the bartender that day is one of your peers.

And a unique benefit–perhaps intended–is that the employee being replaced that day also goes “ViceVersa,” and becomes a customer. That’s a great employee perk, and a way to develop deeper front-line understanding.

It makes me wonder, though, how many cruises I’d have to take to achieve my ultimate goal–trading places with the captain.

I’m interested in hearing of other examples of how customers can be drawn more deeply into a brand. Any examples–yours or others–that you’d like to cheer?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


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