What Social Networks Can Learn from Travel Industry Loyalty Programs

March 8, 2009
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Another Reason Twitter is Gaining in Popularity

Looking through some of my followers on Twitter and deciding who to follow today made me think of another reason why twitter seems to be doing so well. While Facebook and LinkedIn have thresholds in place to flag “users” who accumulate too many friends and connections too quickly. Twitter seems to encourage the accumulation of many followers. Several applications rank Twitterers by number of followers or ratio of followers to following. Why is this important? Because many of the best users will have a competitive nature, and number of “connections”, “friends”, “followers” or whatever you call it is the ultimate social currency. Guy Kawasaki with 80,000 followers is one of many Twitter super-users who have become “Evangelists” for Twitter.

Some may argue, why is that you need to follow 10,000+ people, it’s impossible to actually read/use that many tweets/connections or whatever you call it. That doesn’t matter. Looking now at a totally different industry, the hospitality/leisure industry, which my company has done a lot of consulting for, we find exactly the same motivation with loyalty programs. The best customers in this industry, “th

Another Reason Twitter is Gaining in Popularity

Looking through some of my followers on Twitter and deciding who to follow today made me think of another reason why twitter seems to be doing so well. While Facebook and LinkedIn have thresholds in place to flag “users” who accumulate too many friends and connections too quickly. Twitter seems to encourage the accumulation of many followers. Several applications rank Twitterers by number of followers or ratio of followers to following. Why is this important? Because many of the best users will have a competitive nature, and number of “connections”, “friends”, “followers” or whatever you call it is the ultimate social currency. Guy Kawasaki with 80,000 followers is one of many Twitter super-users who have become “Evangelists” for Twitter.

Some may argue, why is that you need to follow 10,000+ people, it’s impossible to actually read/use that many tweets/connections or whatever you call it. That doesn’t matter. Looking now at a totally different industry, the hospitality/leisure industry, which my company has done a lot of consulting for, we find exactly the same motivation with loyalty programs. The best customers in this industry, “the road warriors”, exhibit strangely similar behavior in that they will try to accumulate “Double Diamond Level”, “Platinum VIP Level” or whatever the top level is called in a specific car rental, airline or hotel brand, and then once they have gotten to the top they will switch and start trying to accumulate a top ranking at another brand. If higher levels were available at a specific hospitality brand, this switch would likely be postponed. But it seems strange for companies to create a “Triple Diamond Platinum VIP level III” category.

From a common sense perspective this may not make perfect sense. After all, once you’ve gotten to the highest loyalty level in a program why not enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Typically these road warriors are consultants and orporations are paying for the travel. Significant points at the premiere loyalty level will guarantee these travelers free vacations for themselves and their families for quite some time. But no, the points, and the levels are even more important than the actual real benefits.

This need for continuous competition is something even companies in the leisure industry have a hard time understanding and taking advantage of. But social networks, other than twitter, are obviously  even further behind in this regard. Instead they currently punish rather than reward their heaviest users.

PS.

If you’re also on Twitter feel free to follow me.

Link to original postTom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics