CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) is excited about its Aventura Rewards loyalty program which allows clients to earn rewards points by using their CIBC Aventura® Visa cards.

Loyalty360 spoke with Mark Swartz, senior director, Aventura Rewards & Product Management, CIBC, to learn more about this compelling proprietary (in-house) rewards program. Swartz says that CIBC continuously strives to enhance the products and rewards for clients, as well as the overall program experience. Aventura gives clients the flexibility to fly any airline, anytime, as well as a wide range of other travel and non-travel redemption options.

In fact, through the CIBC Rewards Centre, Aventura clients can access the widest variety of travel, merchandise and experience redemption options in the Canadian marketplace. In addition, the CIBC Rewards Travel Concierge provides personalized trip booking services with knowledgeable travel specialists who can help plan a client’s trip from start to finish, with no booking fees.

Can you talk about the genesis of the Aventura program?

Swartz: We enhanced the CIBC Aventura Rewards program in 2013 after listening to Canadians about their preference in travel rewards. The launch enabled Aventura clients to fly any airline, any flight, any seat with the flexibility to use points for taxes and fees as well. Last year, we further enhanced the rewards redemption options by enabling clients to use Aventura points to make a payment towards their CIBC Aventura credit card balance or for select CIBC financial products. 

How sophisticated are your CX and customer loyalty initiatives?

Swartz: They’re quite sophisticated and we’re always trying to do more. A few months ago, we implemented a personalized communication strategy to communicate with clients at different points of the credit card lifecycle. This includes engaging with our cardholders on a regular basis to ensure they feel like special members of the Aventura Rewards program. We constantly gather feedback from our clients, we learn from it and we act on it to ensure our clients are satisfied.

How do you see customers changing and how are you adapting to those changes?

Swartz: Over the last decade, clients have become more educated and aware of the vast array of options in the Canadian loyalty space. Clients want choice and exceptional value with their travel rewards credit card and their expectations are continuously rising as more new entrants come into the loyalty space. Clients today expect to be able to interact in the channel of their choice 24/7 and their expectations for user experience in digital channels are increasingly sophisticated.

How does employee engagement fit into this discussion?

Swartz: Our employees are all focused on delivering an exceptional client experience and they are also our biggest advocates. We seek out and implement their feedback into product and program improvements. We also have an internal CIBC Aventura community where employees from across the bank can share their experiences and provide direct feedback to the Aventura team.

What does customer loyalty mean to CIBC?

Swartz: CIBC is committed to becoming No. 1 in client experience and credit card loyalty is an important component of that journey. With our proprietary rewards program, we are focused on increasing Aventura client engagement and we work closely with our rewards platform partners to see how we can differentiate ourselves in the loyalty space to further deepen client relationships at CIBC.

What is the challenge of personalization?

Swartz: To truly provide value and build loyalty among our clients, we need to understand their preferences in terms of how they spend, what they redeem for, and what they might want to redeem for. We are continually improving our ability to further integrate rich data across multiple systems so that we can provide a seamless personalized experience through all CIBC channels.

What trends are you seeing?

Swartz: Most redemptions are for travel, but do we see clients looking for new and unique experiences as well. We offer experiences through auctions, where Aventura cardholders can bid against each other on experiences and events such as the World Cup, the Olympics, and major Canadian tourist attractions.

What does being a challenger or disruptor brand mean to you?

Swartz: It means finding new avenues to create value for our clients beyond what exists today. We have an innovation lab with a digital team that looks for ways to innovate on a regular basis. We just created a tool within our CIBC mobile banking app called CIBC Travel Tools. When clients are abroad shopping, the tool lets them know what foreign exchange rate will be charged to their credit cards vs. point of sale.

How are you leveraging mobile to better enhance the Aventura program?

Swartz: We’re making our existing rewards platform as client-friendly as possible by continually improving the mobile and online experience to ensure clients use their channel of choice.

How are you using social media to promote the program?

Swartz: We are primarily leveraging social media from a marketing perspective. For example, our recent “Drop Everything and Fly” campaign captured clients on video getting ready for their trips through SnapChat spectacles. The video was well received on CIBC YouTube, Instagram and Facebook channels. We’ve also leveraged social media for surprise and delight activations at Toronto Pearson International Airport and other rewards contests for our clients.

How do you see CX changing across all verticals?

Swartz: Client expectations are rising, not only in banking but across all industries. In this data-driven era, clients expect that we know them and can deliver tailored offers and relevant engagement experiences at their convenience, and we’re spending a lot of time on these enhancements for CIBC Aventura Rewards.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you want to gain more insight on?

Swartz: I’m interested in understanding how travel credit cards will be able to add further value to fit our clients’ lives beyond traditional rewards offerings using emerging technologies. We always keep our clients’ needs top-of-mind in all strategic program decisions and I am excited to see how CIBC Aventura Rewards can lead in the Canadian loyalty landscape.

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