Vision, Gumption and Kismet


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One of the first things that COLLOQUY founder Rick Barlow said to me in my 1996 job interview for a client leadership role was, “You know, I need someone who can give me at least five good years here. Are you up to that?”

Over a lunch celebrating my fifth anniversary with the company, I ribbed Mr. Barlow about that unusual opening interview question. He blushed a little, and then—without missing a beat—he shot back, “Well then, can I have at least five more?”

Fourteen years later, I’m honored to be leading the charge that Mr. Barlow started back in 1990 when loyalty marketing was so young yet so justifiably promising. Today, my team and I are the proud stewards of the COLLOQUY loyalty media enterprise. Every day, we strive to live up to the high standards that our readers have come to expect. And every day, we push the boundaries of our loyalty coverage, our loyalty events, and our loyalty research ever further.

The truth is: we must keep pushing the boundaries of what we do—because the vibrant loyalty industry we cover is evolving faster than ever before.

Just recall what the “loyalty industry” was in 1990—20 years ago—when the first issue of COLLOQUY was published. Airline and hotel frequency programs dominated. Credit card loyalty programs were still a novelty. Most retailers were still sorting out if and how loyalty marketing could work for them. And we hadn’t even seen the first major rewards coalition take hold internationally.

Push the fast-forward button to the present and the loyalty landscape is radically bigger, much more diverse, and racing to integrate such new approaches as social networking, cause marketing, and deploying the insights from our vast treasure troves of data to engage customers more effectively. Instead of treating loyalty marketing as the stepchild of the marketing department, leading companies are overhauling their merchandising, pricing and store layout strategies with the epiphanies that customer-specific data mined from loyalty efforts can yield.

Yet, after all of these years, in many ways, there is still a warm feeling of familiarity. Marketing best practices remain founded on accountability and metrics. When it comes to building customer loyalty and systematically cultivating desired behaviors, our industry has—for the most part—used sound testing and measurement efforts to crack the code. And all real loyalty practitioners share a solid anthology of loyalty truisms.

Upon COLLOQUY’s 20th anniversary, we’re revisiting those established beliefs and the know-how that loyalty marketers in travel, retail, financial services, telecom, business-to-business and coalition programs have developed through rigorous testing, trials-by-fire, entrepreneurial gumption—and sometimes, pure kismet. Of course, you can expect COLLOQUY to boldly gaze into our crystal ball about what will be emerging in the next 20 years, too. I hope that over the next few issues, you will enjoy our educational and entertaining look back at the loyalty innovations of the last two decades.

To borrow that line from our founder, Rick Barlow: You’ve given COLLOQUY a good 20 years—so, now can we have at least 20 more?

Kelly Hlavinka
A partner of COLLOQUY, owned by LoyaltyOne, Kelly Hlavinka directs all publishing, education and research projects at COLLOQUY, where she draws on her broad experience as a loyalty strategy practitioner in developing articles, white papers and educational initiatives.


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