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Travel and Transport, a travel management company founded in 1946 and headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest employee-owned travel management company in the world. Loyalty360 recently had the opportunity to talk with Michelle Holmes and Cyndi Pereira of Loyalty by Travel and Transport. What follows is Part I of a Q&A in which we learned more about what the company offers, what the staff is hearing from its partners pertaining to customer experience and customer loyalty needs, and more.
Can you tell us more about Travel and Transport?
We carry out our mission through four business units. The largest is corporate travel management. Here in the U.S. we have employees in 44 states. We have 1,600 employees overall with our company, and we are 100 percent employee owned – which makes us very unique in the industry. We are the largest employee-owned travel management company in the U.S.
There are three specialty areas that are also part of our business model. One is events, and that is focused around a company or an organization that pays for attendees to go to various events. It might be a business meeting. It might be a sales meeting. It might be a reward trip. Our events team manages all components of those programs, and they range from 10 to 5,000 participants.
We have two other specialty areas. One is vacations – anything you want to do on an individual basis to enrich your life through the world of travel, we can service. And that area falls under my responsibility, as well as loyalty.
Loyalty by Travel and Transport’s focus is around individuals that earn a reward based on some sort of behavioral criteria and is predominantly point related. Many of our clients are financial institutions, but we also work with other companies, to provide loyalty program services. We started the loyalty business in 1986, when rewards were either travel or merchandise. We formed a division in 1990 dedicated to loyalty and rewards, and we’ve been doing it ever since. It has grown from providing travel rewards to offering program design and metrics, and rewards now include gift cards, merchandise, digital rewards, and event tickets in addition to airline tickets and other travel-related offerings. It’s no longer all about travel, although we do travel really well, obviously. There are some programs that we have that don’t even have travel in them.
What is the No. 1 thing you are hearing from your brands that you can help them with?
One of the things that we’re seeing a shift back on is more of an interest in travel. If you think about what happened about 10 years ago now, banks and financial institutions really did make a switch in how they reward, going to more of a lower reward item, lower priced reward item, to keep individuals engaged and reward them more quickly, because there was a significant financial downturn at that time. What we’re seeing now is that they’re trying to make a shift and trying to bring that travel element back in because they realize that travel is one of the most rewarding things that someone can receive. It’s got memory to it, it’s inspirational, it is something that really provides an emotional connection to the organization delivering the reward.
So we are having a lot more discussions with financial institutions on how we can incorporate that in their programs and drive engagement and spend to the portfolios. It also creates stickiness and loyalty to the credit card since those reward items typically require more points for redemption. And then the other element I would say is the use of e-gift cards. It’s really important for swift delivery – and increasing the brands that are available in a reward portfolio to be in tune with the dynamics of that portfolio itself.
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