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Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution

Choose a system that aligns with the business’ strategic digital goals and opportunities.

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Although the gaming and hospitality industry has good intentions to drive guest loyalty (94% consider driving guest loyalty as a top priority), it falls short in acknowledging that updating and integrating the martech stack is the key to smooth operations (only 21% include modernization of tech stack as an area of focus for digital initiatives).

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Unlocking the digital value of a loyalty program is restricted by the technology stack in place. Without establishing the right loyalty management solution, the organization will be unable to break through the digital loyalty transformation barrier, missing the mark on differentiation and sustainment.

Impact and Result

A well-prepared loyalty management platform selection will mitigate digital initiative risks. Implement a strategic loyalty management selection process by:

  • Distinguishing between core, advanced, and strategic loyalty functionalities and assessing each functionality’s support of your loyalty program value chains.
  • Examining and determining the deployment architecture that aligns with the organization and loyalty program objectives.
  • Analyzing the vendor landscape, focusing in on those vendors that support your designed deployment architecture and satisfy current functionality and gaps.

Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution Research & Tools

1. Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution – A step-by-step deck that walks you through a strategic loyalty management selection process

This approach to loyalty management system selection will drive digital loyalty transformation which can, in turn, enable sustainment and empower differentiation.

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Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution

Choose a system that aligns with the business’ strategic digital goals and opportunities.

Analyst Perspective

Breaking through the digital loyalty transformation barrier.

In the previous report, Info-Tech’s Optimize Your Loyalty Program Through A Digital Strategy, we leveraged Info-Tech’s Digital Business Strategy to develop a digital loyalty strategy that identifies what aspects of the program to transform, technologies to embrace, processes to automate, and new growth strategies to create.

With digital loyalty initiatives in place, a loyalty program platform analysis must be the next step toward a digital loyalty program because establishing a proper loyalty management solution selection is the critical enabler that will veritably drive digital loyalty transformation.

In this report, we offer a strategic loyalty management selection process that will allow the organization to determine how loyalty functions support the value chains, what deployment approach to select, and what vendors are in the market.

Photo of Monica Pagtalunan, Research Specialist, Gaming & Hospitality, Info-Tech Research Group. Monica Pagtalunan
Research Specialist, Gaming & Hospitality
Info-Tech Research Group

Where does a Loyalty Platform System sit in the Marketing Tech Stack?

Casino Management System
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Property Management System
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Point-of-Sale System
Customer Relationship Management

Loyalty Management Platform

Player Host Tool Customer Data Platform
Operational industry systems that hold and feed guest data to the rest of the marketing tech stack. Software that consists of applications designed to automate and manage the customer lifecycle. Software that lets you create, launch, manage, and track your loyalty program. Software that is designed to manage the customer lifecycle on the casino floor. Software that enables a unified customer profile for marketing purposes.

The tech stack must be ready for digital guest loyalty

The CX programs of the future will be holistic, predictive, precise and clearly tied to business outcomes. Evidence suggests that the advantages will be substantial for companies that start building the capabilities, talent, and organizational structure needed for this transition.” McKinsey, 24 February 2021.
  • Disconnect between acknowledgement and intention to change - Although the gaming and hospitality industry has good intentions, with 94% of surveyed organizations wanting to drive guest loyalty, they fall short in acknowledging that updating and integrating the marketing tech stack is the key to smooth operations. (Hospitality Technology, 2021).
  • Agility is critical for digitization - To digitize the customer experience, the organization must digitize the operation through agile approaches to processes and the implementation of customer-centric platforms.
  • Your loyalty platform must enable digital loyalty transformation - The loyalty management solution has a role to play in the entire customer journey and lifecycle of the organization’s members.
  • Stay ahead of the curve to be competitive - Organizations that have modernized their tech stack in preparation for the implementation of digital initiatives will be ahead of the curve (21%), while the rest (79%) will struggle to develop a guest-centric, unified, and agile loyalty program. (Adobe, 2021)
  • Assess the capabilities and limitations of your loyalty system - An agile pivot from traditional toward a digital loyalty program will require the assessment of the current core loyalty management solution to see if the platform can handle digital transformation. To power today’s most sought-after use cases, organizations must investigate the capabilities and limitations of their loyalty management platform.

The industry acknowledges the need to change...

94%

IT departments that consider driving guest loyalty as a top priority (Hospitality Technology , 2021)

...but has little intention to change.

21%

Include modernization of tech stack integration as an area of focus for organization’s digital initiatives. (Adobe, 2021)

Your loyalty management solution will critically enable digital transformation

Unlocking the digital value of a loyalty program is restricted by the technology stack in place. Without establishing the right loyalty management solution, the organization will be unable to break through the digital loyalty transformation barrier, missing the mark on differentiation, and even sustainment.

A successful solution will result in the following:

  • Expansion and optimization of guest data.
  • Increased reach of communication by addressing the demand for digital interaction.
  • Prioritization of the user journey which increases the opportunity for personalized and relevant content and conversion rates.
  • Minimized manual processes; maximized process automation.
  • Increased marketing autonomy and flexibility.

Visit Info-Tech’s Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy Blueprint

Visit Info-Tech’s Define Your Digital Business Strategy Blueprint

Pyramid of loyalty management solutions. The bottom section is 'Build the Digital Loyalty Program Vision', then 'Establish Foundational Enablers' with a note that this is where you are currently. The line above says 'Break through the digital transformation barrier'. The 3rd section from the bottom is 'Enable Sustainment', and the top is 'Empower Differentiation'.

Unlocking the digital value of a loyalty program is restricted by the technology stack in place. Establishing a proper loyalty management solution selection is the critical enabler that will veritably drive digital loyalty transformation.

Understand the different components necessary to develop a guest-centric, unified, and agile enterprise loyalty program architecture

Loyalty Program Architecture.

IT’s Role in Enhancing the Organization’s Loyalty Program

1 – Digital Loyalty Program Opportunities
Careful analysis of pain points, gaps, and opportunities within the loyalty program is the core estimation of effectiveness and a way to determine digital initiatives to enhance your program.

Focus of Report
2 – Loyalty Platform Solution Vendor
Select a system that aligns with marketing’s strategic goals and opportunities.

3 – Data and Integration Strategy
With digital loyalty program opportunities in mind, optimize your data & integration strategy.

https://architect.salesforce.com/design/architectu...
https://architect.salesforce.com/design/architectu...

A loyalty program’s objective should be focused on making the guest’s experience as seamless as possible, while enabling the organization to keep record of services consumed

Determine whether your current loyalty management solution can support your digital goals and initiatives

Sample Data: Integrated Resort X elicited a goals cascade to identify the organizational goals, initiatives, and capabilities, mapped back to IT goals, initiatives, capabilities.

Example organization goals cascade. The first column on the left side is 'Business Goals' listing four business goals, some of which are color-coded similarly. The second column on left side is 'Business Initiatives' with three initiatives, each color-coded to match the business goal(s) they help to achieve. The third column on the left side is 'Business Capabilities' with capabilities grouped by a category such as 'Loyalty Program Mgmt.', each of which are color-coded to business goals and the business initiatives that create or improve them. On the right side there is similarly 'IT Goals' with five goals listed, they each are achieved through many 'IT Initiatives', some of which are color-coded to goals, which are created or improved by 'IT Capabilities'. The capabilities of either side support each other.

A Well-Prepared Loyalty Management Platform Selection Will Mitigate Digital Initiative Risks

To mitigate risks, a loyalty program management solution must support its digital initiatives through the enablement of two overarching systems:
  1. Digital Ecosystem
    • Definition - Refers to an environment of interconnected IT systems and processes.
    • Lay the foundation for upcoming high-value implementations and build for expansion - Your loyalty management environment must allow for the connectivity of systems (technology and people) and processes (channels and strategy), so that your organization is in a better position to take advantage of projects in the coming years.
  2. Experience Platform
    • Definition - Refers to a system that sits on data to manage both operational and customer experiences.
    • Lay the foundation for guest engagement and build for an optimal experience - Your loyalty management environment must drive engagement for customers and enable the ability for the business to make the right decisions in improving marketing and service.

A poor platform selection may result in risks:

  • Misalignment between IT and the business, and the organization and selected vendor.
  • Insufficient focus on user stories.
  • Lack the monitoring of all integration points.
  • Inability to scale the solution with the growth of the program.

Info-Tech’s Methodology for a Strategic Loyalty Management Selection Process

Phase Steps 1. Determine Loyalty Functional Support for Loyalty Value Chains 2. Adopt the Right Deployment Approach 3. Evaluate the Loyalty System Vendor Landscape
Phase Outcomes Determine whether stakeholders are experiencing challenges with functionality, the impact on the business, and the tasks that can be accomplished to establish current state gaps. Examine and determine the deployment approach that aligns with the organization and loyalty program objectives. Analyze the vendor landscape, focusing in on those vendors that support your designed deployment approach and satisfy current functionality and gaps.

Determine what value your loyalty program creates

Value streams and value chains connect business goals to the organization’s value realization activities. They enable an organization to create and capture value in the marketplace by engaging in a set of interconnected activities. Loyalty programs create value by attracting, entertaining/servicing, and retaining guests (Value Stream) through the following loyalty program management and operation processes and activities (Value Chains):

Different types of value your organization creates
Value Stream for loyalty programs with activities 'Attract Guest', 'Entertain/Service Guest', and 'Retain Guest'.
The way that your organization creates value
Value chain for Loyalty Program Management.
Value chain for Loyalty Program Operations.

Value Streams
A value stream refers to the specific set of activities an industry player undertakes to create and capture value for and from the end consumer.

Value Chains
A value chain is a ”string” of processes within a company that interrelate and work together to meet market demand. Examining the value chain of a company will reveal how it achieves competitive advantage.

Each value chain has a stakeholder associated with it. This is the primary stakeholder that seeks to gain value from that value chain

Visit ITRG's Integrated Casino Reference Architecture Guide

Analyzing Loyalty Program Value Chain Components

Collection of data on guests (such as needs, wants, and habits) to segment and build profiles, and to activate the customer experience. The creation of loyalty schemes for the guest's lifetime journey based on guest data and profiles. Examples of schemes include perks, gamified loyalty, earn and burn promotions, etc. The creation and coordination of exclusive events and experiences for high-value loyalty program members. Development of loyalty program rules and ensuring the transparency and clarification required by members. This also involves the administrative tasks involved for promotions and incentives. Management of partnership relations and contracts, specifically loyalty terms, point blocks, billing, accrual templates, and distributed ledger management.
Value chain for Loyalty Program Management.
Value chain for Loyalty Program Operations.
Involves enrollment and registration to expand membership. This process focuses on creating awareness while making the registration and onboarding steps as easy as possible. Executes loyalty schemes in the guest lifetime journey through promotion recommendations, personalized rewards, etc. This process focuses on what promotions and incentives the guest sees and how they see them. Refers to the concept of front-line employees knowing your members and being able to provide personalized service. Allows for the accrual and visibility of points after enrolling or taking advantage of promotions and incentives, as well as the redemption of intangible and tangible rewards. The function assesses and keeps track of points based on tier classes, and point and voucher expirations, etc. Track and analyze member behaviors based on their transactional and non-transactional activities such as bet tracking, rollover tracking, and non-gaming purchases.

Measure the value of your loyalty management solution based on the individual processes it supports

Processes

Arrow pointing right.

Objective

Arrow pointing right.

KPI Metrics

Loyalty Program Management

Guest Profile Management

Loyalty Scheme Management

Loyalty Event Management

Partner Management

Loyalty Administration

Accessibility and ability to successfully use data to segment out and identify accurate guest profiles (Profile/Segmentation Quality).

Based on guest profiles, flexibility and agility to design and develop loyalty schemes that engage the right customers.

The ease of developing, designing and coordinating loyalty events for high value members.

Ability to successfully management partnerships through collaboration as well as the number of partners engaged with and their contribution rate.

Ability to maintain a flexible rules engine that allows for a complex network of rules and tiers with the goal of providing transparency to guests.

Loyalty Program Management

Customer Acquisition Cost, Usage, Time Spent

Customer Lifetime Value, Active Engagement Ratio, Reward Redemption Rate, Customer Churn Rate, Reward Liability Rate

Conversion Rate, Transaction Accuracy, Average Basket Size

Engagement Ratio, Revenue Increase, Number of partners, number of partner-related schemes, sales volume, gross margins via partners

Customer Satisfaction Score – Survey Feedback (Education of Limitations), Customer Retention Rate, First Time Resolution Rate

Loyalty Program Operations

Enrollment

Promotions and Incentives

Member Service Integration

Transaction Processing

Behavior Tracking and Analysis

Guest attraction to loyalty program and from there, usability and user-friendliness for guests to enroll in a loyalty program.

Right guest, right time, right message, right channel.

Ability for front-line staff to successfully support and service members

Ability to distribute Points, Rewards and Perks to the appropriate guests with speed.

Ability to track and analyze loyalty program member behavior.

Loyalty Program Operations

Enrollment Rate, Customer Acquisition Rate, Click-Through Rate, Conversion Rate, Customer Attention, Frequency

Customer Lifetime Value, Active Engagement Ratio, Reward Redemption Rate, Customer Churn Rate, Reward Liability Rate

Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Churn Rate, Customer Satisfaction

Transaction Accuracy, Conversion Rate, Usability, Point Scoring

Customer Acquisition Cost, Customer Lifetime Value, Sentimental Analysis

Calculating KPI metrics

KPI Metric Definition Calculation
Customer Acquisition Cost Cost of winning a customer to purchase a product or service (Cost of Sales + Cost of Marketing) / New Customers Acquired
Customer Lifetime Value Total worth to a business of a customer over the whole period of their relationship Average Value of Sale X Number of Transactions x Retention Time Period
Active Engagement Rate Percentage of customers who are “active” in the program. For example, referring friends, redeeming rewards, etc. Number of active members / Number of total program members
Reward Redemption Rate Measure of how many points are being redeemed by members to see whether the program is engaging enough Number of points spent on rewards / number of points issued
Customer Churn Rate Rate at which customers leave the loyalty program (Members at beginning of period - members at end of period) / Users at beginning of period
Reward Liability Rate Cost to your company of the redemption of all outstanding loyalty points Outstanding Points x Cost Per Point x Redemption Rate
Conversion Rate Percentage of customers that convert to loyalty program members Number of visitors that converted / total number of visitors
Average Basket Size Average amount spent by your loyalty members in one transaction Total value of transactions / number of transactions or sales
Enrollment Rate Percentage of customers that enroll in your loyalty program Number of program members / total number of customers
Click-Through Rate Percentage of people who click your loyalty program advertisements Number of clicks that your ad receives / number of times your ad is shown

Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution

Phase 1

Determine Loyalty Functional Support for Loyalty Value Chains

Phase 1

Determine Loyalty Functional Support for Loyalty Value Chains

Phase 2

Adopt the Right Deployment approach

Phase 3

Evaluate the Loyalty System Vendor Landscape

Phase Description:

Distinguish between core, advanced, and strategic loyalty functionalities and assess each functionality’s support of your loyalty program value chains and potential gaps by determining:
  • Tasks that can be accomplished
  • Impact on the business
  • End-user and guest challenges

What is a loyalty management solution?

Key features that let you create, launch, manage, and track your loyalty program

Centerpiece reads 'Loyalty Management Solution' and is surrounded by 'Member segmentation', 'Member Profile management', 'Rewards catalog', 'Loyalty Marketing', 'Personalization engine', 'Rule administration', 'Content Management', 'Reporting and analytics', 'Partnership management', 'integration'.

Use Info-Tech’s loyalty management framework to navigate the modules between core and strategic

Core loyalty functions involve features that allow for the simplification of operations and support of the loyalty program.

Advanced loyalty functionality builds on the core to further enable loyalty program operations and functions, while providing a clear sense of self-service and control for the end-user.

Strategic modules support organizational objectives, enables competitive advantage, and optimizes the player experience.

Diagram of loyalty functions laid out on a directional spectrum from Core to Strategic.

Key Loyalty Solution Features

Feature: What we looked for:
Member Profile Management The function is the ‘control center’ to capture, manage, and track the organization’s loyalty member population.
Rules Administration The function to define, access, and monitor various rules and housekeeping items for the loyalty program.
Partnership Management The function to enable loyalty partnerships including products, rewards, and marketing management.
Content Management The function to create, support, and publish content on all necessary channels.
Loyalty Marketing The function to create, configure, and deploy loyalty scheme and campaign content such as promotions, offers, contests, surveys, and so on.
Rewards Catalog The function to create and systemize rewards for the organization’s loyalty members to redeem.
Member Segmentation The function to slice-and-dice members into segmentations for targeted loyalty schemes and rewards based on loyalty member profile information.
Personalization Engine The function to curate and tailor the member experience including automating loyalty marketing efforts and recommendations.
Reporting and Analytics The function to provide access to data and analytical insights for the purpose of decision-making and program optimization.
Integration The function to control data integration between the loyalty program and third-party applications and systems.

Further analyze the framework by assessing its support for the value chains

Business agility is essential to stay competitive and to develop resilience to changing market conditions. Therefore, the application portfolio - especially the loyalty management solution - must sufficiently support business needs through functional flexibility and efficiency.

Adopting a value chain-based approach to assessing the loyalty management solution will enable IT and business units to identify opportunities, including:

  • Task Automation - Automate tasks through the strategic selection and implementation of loyalty management system features.
  • Cross-System Ability - Integrate applications with the loyalty management system that have cross-capability implications.
  • Feature Rationale - Rationalize the loyalty management system features and the need.
  • Value Confidence - Eliminate redundant or legacy applications and features that don’t deliver enough value.
  • Friction Identification - Identify areas of customer and employee experience friction and potential areas of ROI drivers.
  • Change Management Focal Areas - Focus organizational change management efforts.

In the subsequent slides, each value chain impacted by the loyalty management software will illustrate potential challenges based on a system’s availability to support each value chains’ processes.

The Core, Advanced, and Strategic Loyalty functions seen previously with an arrow 'Supports or Improves' pointing to the two value chains we saw previously.

Member Profile Management

The function is the ‘control center’ to capture, manage, and track the organization’s loyalty member population.

Core Loyalty function 'Member Profile Management' Supports or Improves 'Guest Profile Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain, and 'Enrollment' in the Loyalty Program Operations value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Document and view member details and loyalty activities such as:
    • Demographics
    • Tier level
    • Name
    • Birthday
    • Email
    • Phone number

How does it impact my business?

  • The ability to recognize the value and details of the organization’s loyalty members, capitalizing on improved member relationships.
  • A full 360-view to help discover customers’ purchasing habits, opinions, and preferences to learn about members and produce well-informed decisions.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • When members are not identified, or limited information is documented, brands are left with data gaps, limiting the guest profile detail.
  • The loyalty system does not provide any features for non-members or captures visitor information (such as registering for on-property Wi-Fi when it should provide features to help convert non-members to members).

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Rules Administration

The function to define, access, and monitor various rules and housekeeping items for the loyalty program.

Core Loyalty function 'Rules Administration' Supports or Improves 'Loyalty Administration' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Define program characteristics, specifically:
    • Earning rules to identify activities that a member must complete to earn rewards.
    • Redemption rules to identify when and how a customer can redeem rewards.
    • Loyalty reward point limit per loyalty card to reduce loyalty fraud.
    • Accruals, tier processing, point expiration, etc.
    • Experiential perks and benefits based on tier structure.

How does it impact my business?

  • Effective rules administration provides customers with unique earning opportunities based on loyalty status, offering great incentives and rewards to members who purchase or are engaged more frequently.
  • Rules will maintain the integrity of the loyalty program and mitigate business and financial risks.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • A loyalty system with limited attention to establishing fraud controls and threshold alerts can increase fraudulent risk that will negatively impact the brand.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Partnership Management

The function to enable loyalty partnerships including products, rewards, and marketing management.

Core Loyalty function 'Partnership Management' Supports or Improves 'Partner Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Onboard program partners, making products eligible for rewards and redemptions.
  • Manage partnerships including:
    • Agreement and loyalty terms for member rewards and redemptions.
    • Points block.
    • Billing.
    • Accrual template.

How does it impact my business?

  • Provide new revenue source potential for the organization and expand the partner ecosystem to create valuable relationships that will improve member engagement.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Inability for the system to onboard partners, monitor their activity, and assess the value of their loyalty products/services.
  • Manual method to manage partnership (points block, billing, etc.) rather than automated processes.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Rewards Catalog

The function to create and systemize rewards for the organization’s loyalty members to redeem.

Advanced Loyalty function 'Rewards Catalog' Supports or Improves 'Loyalty Scheme Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Set up multiple types of rewards that would be offered in a loyalty program (i.e. Buy X, Get Y, Gamified Loyalty).
  • Manage and cap reward inventory by location, availability, etc.
  • Automatically trigger and configure experiential perks and benefits.
  • Reward eligible behavior.

How does it impact my business?

  • The ability to reward valuable customers based on behavior, point accumulation, etc. can increase member engagement.
  • An extensive and engaging rewards catalog with little to no complexity can reduce the organization’s point liability.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Limited member engagement if the rewards are not appealing enough.
  • Lack of breadth and depth of rewards can lead to member dissatisfaction.
  • Overreliance on transactional mechanics with member desire for behavioral or attitudinal rewards.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Content Management

The function to create, support, and publish content on all necessary channels.

Advanced Loyalty function 'Content Management' Supports or Improves 'Loyalty Scheme Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Utilize content editor to configure a loyalty marketing tactic’s text, image, layout, font, etc.
  • Directly publish the loyalty marketing tactic to the organization’s digital channels.
  • Manage loyalty marketing tactic’s metadata such as workflow status, dates, editors, etc.

How does it impact my business?

  • Allows the end-user to build and manage the loyalty program and its marketing tactics without the need for coding skills, and instead relies on the feature’s user-friendly interface (drag and drop, templates, etc.) to accomplish the configuration and publishing of content.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Complicated program design and mechanics for:
    • End-users who may experience lengthy time-to-deployment and reliance on coding skills.
    • Members who may lack the patience for complex or unattractive program navigation.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Loyalty Marketing

The function to create, configure, and deploy loyalty scheme and campaign content such as promotions, offers, contests, surveys, and so on.

Advanced Loyalty function 'Loyalty Marketing' Supports or Improves 'Loyalty Scheme Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Directly manage the calendar for loyalty schemes and campaigns.
  • Apply specified earning and redemption rules to a loyalty scheme or campaign.
  • Assign loyalty schemes and campaigns to channels.
  • Process loyalty schemes and campaigns with the ability to configure design.
  • Set up vouchers for discounts and produce or service experiences.

How does it impact my business?

  • If there is enough attention detail on the marketing content, the organization can reduce customer churn and increase customer lifetime value by engaging members in various loyalty schemes and campaigns.
  • This provides the ability to increase the ‘earn’ in ‘earn + burn’ by building creativity and focusing on guest desires. Examples of desired loyalty schemes include discounts, chance-to-win, etc.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Limited member engagement if the loyalty campaigns and schemes are not appealing enough.
  • Overreliance on transactional mechanics with desire for behavioral or attitudinal marketing.
  • Lack frontline feedback marketing mechanism to learn about the member experience.
  • Non-automated campaign management process where the delivery of offers, promotions, and campaigns can be cumbersome to manage.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Member Segmentation

The function to slice-and-dice members into segmentations for targeted loyalty schemes and rewards based on loyalty member profile information.

Strategic Loyalty function 'Member Segmentation' Supports or Improves 'Guest Profile Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Precisely create segments with a loyalty management system’s segmentation strategy categorized in one of three buckets:
    • Mass: No form of personalization and does not leverage guest data.
    • Segmented: Minimal consumer data is used with segments based on demographics, geography, etc.
    • Dynamic: Leverages large-scale individualized consumer data, involving ongoing optimization of offers with ML-based enablement for personalization.

How does it impact my business?

  • How simplistic or complex the guest segment approach is will affect how targeted and personalized the loyalty program offerings and communications will be.
  • A personalized loyalty strategy will enable behavioral and attitudinal loyalty rather than solely focus on transactional loyalty.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Unknowingly or knowingly targeting ‘free rider’ behavior; that is, customers who enjoy benefits without increasing spending or providing value to the organization.
  • The loyalty system has no segmentation features, or offers a fixed set of segmentation capabilities.
  • A system with the mass or segmented strategy will not be able to personalize the experience to what a customer requires.

https://formation.ai/blog/is-your-tech-stack-ready...

Personalization Engine

The function to curate and tailor the member experience including automating loyalty marketing efforts and recommendations.

Strategic Loyalty function 'Personalization Engine' Supports or Improves 'Guest Profile Management' in the Loyalty Program Management value chain, and 'Promotions and Incentives' in the Loyalty Program Operations value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Define, manage, and target personalized offers online and on-property.
  • Test and tweak to develop an optimized personalization strategy.

How does it impact my business?

  • Provides customer relevancy, focused more on the loyalty member and their engagement than relying on brand sentiment.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • The loyalty system does not allow member information to personalize member experiences, or it offers a fixed set of personalization features.
  • Guests do not believe that the schemes and rewards they receive are relevant.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Reporting and Analytics

The function to provide access to data and analytical insights for the purpose of decision-making and program optimization.

Strategic Loyalty function 'Reporting and Analytics' Supports or Improves 'Behavior Tracking and Analysis' in the Loyalty Program Operations value chain.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Evaluate loyalty program, member spending, and engagement.
  • Create dashboards that include performance indicators.
  • Analyze point liability.

How does it impact my business?

  • Ability to evaluate the success of the loyalty program and generate accurate decisions based on results.
  • Better understanding of most valuable customer segments.
  • The team can analyze the customer relationship and predict or optimize specific marketing interactions.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • Lack of customer relevancy with insufficient input or consideration of guest needs and behaviors.
  • Reliance on data science team to either create reports or build reporting programs.
  • The loyalty system provides pre-built reports or deep analytical reports about activity history, but not a visual designer to create analytics reports and dashboards.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Integration

The function to control data integration between the loyalty program and third-party applications and systems.

Strategic Loyalty function 'Integration' Supports or Improves all except 'Loyalty Administration' in both the Loyalty Program Management and Loyalty Program Operations value chains.

What tasks can I complete?

  • Offers API capabilities and the ability to integrate:
    • Customer Data Platform
    • Transaction/eCommerce Engine
    • Events Tool
    • CRM/Player Host Tool
    • Mobile Application
    • Omnichannel
    • Social Media
    • Conversational Care

How does it impact my business?

  • Enables an enterprise view of the guests while providing a seamless guest experience throughout each touchpoint and channel.
  • Provides the ability to monitor all integration points.

What are potential end-user or customer challenges?

  • The loyalty system is not integrated or is only integrated with some touchpoints, causing a siloed loyalty program experience where channels are not integrated and do not provide a cohesive, consistent experience.
  • Jamming together systems that were never meant to work together, organizations can face costly integrations and end up frustrated with a solution that doesn’t work well.

Capabilities of each feature
Challenges a type internal and external user would experience
What kinds of things can I do?
What value chain does it impact? And how?

Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution

Phase 2

Adopt the Right Deployment Approach

Phase 1

Determine Loyalty Functional Support for Loyalty Value Chains

Phase 2

Adopt the Right Deployment approach

Phase 3

Evaluate the Loyalty System Vendor Landscape

Phase Description:

Examine and determine the deployment approach that aligns with the organization’s loyalty program vision, objectives, and initiatives. Deployment approaches include:

  • CMS Module
  • Off-the-Shelf
  • CRM Module
  • Homegrown

Consider what deployment approach aligns with your loyalty program

CMS MODULE OFF-THE-SHELF CRM MODULE HOMEGROWN
ORDER OF MATURITY
DEFINITION A casino-specific point solution for guest loyalty management that is included either as a tablestake or add-on with the casino management system. A ready-made (potentially generic) purpose-built solution that is available to all competitors and focuses on optimized loyalty mechanics. A point solution for guest loyalty management that is loosely or tightly coupled with a CRM platform through add-ons or custom fields. As a module of a greater CRM ecosystem, the solution becomes focused on member data. The organization builds their loyalty management platform in-house and it is tightly integrated into the data warehouse.
BENEFITS
  • Decreased level of complexity.
  • Improved ability to manage single vendor relationship.
  • Decreased costs as a result of bundling.
  • Offers extremely broad and deep functional capabilities, offering maximized value and solution functionality.
  • Keeps your guest experience stack on the same vendor, reducing your solutions architecture.
  • Provides extensive capabilities for organization-specific customization, enabling the highest ability for differentiation compared to other methods of deployment.
  • Supports data residency requirements (or preferences).
DRAWBACKS
  • Capabilities and integration can be limited by vendor's prerogative, with the potential of extremely broad and basic functionalities.
  • Need for substantial adjunct add-ons to meet all functionality
  • Customization concerns as it may not meet all the business’ requirements.
  • Increased vendor cost.
  • Increased vendor management and support required to maintain and operate systems.
  • Increased complexity level during integration and ongoing operations.
  • Unclear data ownership.
  • Cost and dedicated resources needed in-house to augment the existing CRM platform.
  • Increased vendor cost.
  • Some organizations will feel it's only suitable if they have a CRM solution already.
  • Latent costs associated with the maintenance of a homegrown systems such as costs of application maintenance, development team time and effort, data security, and lack of sufficient integration with other applications in the guest experience ecosystem.

Best-Fit Approach Depends on Several Considerations

Leverage these criteria to rationalize the deployment strategy for your loyalty management solution: Resource and Capacity

In-house resources and capacity such as skills and access to IT teams.

Cross-System Ability

The extent of integration the loyalty program will need as decided by the organization.

Cost Model

Consider the cost model preference of the organization: Capex vs. Opex.

Scalability

The extent to which the deployment model will allow the organization to scale up as demand changes.

Current Architecture

Consider the current limitations and preferences of the organization based on existing architecture.

Data Governance

The extent to which the deployment model will allow the organization to govern their own data based on data and sovereignty requirements.

Functionality

The breadth and depth of capabilities needed depending on how complex the organization wishes the loyalty program to be.

Organizations are leaning toward vendor-based solutions over a homegrown platform

There are pros and cons to both third-party vendors and homegrown solutions. Survey results, however, demonstrate a higher satisfaction rate with vendors. Although there is a higher satisfaction rate, your organization will need to choose your technology wisely by selecting a trusted vendor that can support your strategic digital objectives and initiatives.

49%

Percentage of respondents whose loyalty program is managed by in-house technology and are satisfied with their loyalty program.

63%

Percentage of respondents whose loyalty program is managed by a loyalty technology solution vendor and are satisfied with their loyalty program.

21%

Percentage of respondents who want to run the program in-house.

44%

Percentage of respondents who want a third-party technology for their loyalty program.

(Antavo, 2022)

Regardless of the deployment approach, organizations should reduce IT dependency

Low-code and no-code (LCNC) is key to digital transformation

Organizations must use this push to reduce dependency on the IT department, which will introduce self-reliance and intuitiveness while creating productivity and efficiency.

A LCNC loyalty solution will provide the following benefits:
  • Extendable and scalable
  • Seamless deployment
  • Extensive use cases
  • Operational change acceptance
  • Operational hand-off
  • Technology churn protection
  • Digital innovation acceleration
  • Time to solution
  • IT dependency reduction

44%

Surveyed organizations that contain a marketing department that relies on IT to manage the loyalty program. (Antavo, 2022.)

37%

Organizations that see improved productivity, automated manual processes, and streamlined workflows from LCNC (TechRepublic, 2021.)

Visit Info-Tech’s Satisfy Digital End Users With Low- and No-Code Blueprint

Select and Implement a Loyalty Program Platform Solution

Phase 3

Evaluate the Loyalty Solution Vendor Landscape

Phase 1

Determine Loyalty Functional Support for Loyalty Value Chains

Phase 2

Adopt the Right Deployment approach

Phase 3

Evaluate the Loyalty System Vendor Landscape

Phase Description:

Analyze the vendor landscape, focusing in on those vendors that support your designated deployment approach and satisfy current and future functionality requirements and potential gaps. Vendors in scope include:

  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce
  • AIMIA
  • Cendyn
  • Cheetah Digital
  • House Advantage
  • iReckonu
  • Oracle

Key Loyalty Solution Players

Info-Tech identified 8 platforms applicable to the use case.

CMS VENDORS

Logos of CMS vendors.

CRM VENDORS

Logos of CRM vendors.

In-Scope

OFF-THE-SHELF VENDORS

Logos of Off-the-shelf vendors.

In-Scope

Note: CMS vendor evaluation is out of scope.

The Core Operational Systems’ Role in Loyalty

Three overlapping circles 'Casino Management System ', 'Property Management System', 'Point of Sale System'.

  • Any vendor you choose will need to be integrated with your major operational systems (CMS, PMS, POS).
  • The loyalty management solution will become the integration layer that supports the transfer of guest data across this landscape of systems.
  • Since the CMS, PMS, and POS are core source systems for loyalty transactions and touchpoints, evaluate your operational systems and determine if there are any gaps to enable loyalty.

Vendor Quadrant

This quadrant is an unbiased overview of the landscape. The results are based on the expert opinion of the analyst, and detailed secondary research.

Legend

Vendor Functionality
Does the vendor have a strong breadth and depth of capabilities in the player host software space?

Vendor Footprint
How big is the vendor? What’s the viability of the vendor? Do they have a valid roadmap?

Vendor Quadrant with axes 'Vendor Functionality' and 'Vendor Footprint', both increasing from the bottom left to the top right. Vendor logos are mapped onto it.
Logo for Salesforce.
Vendor Name
Salesforce
Headquarters
CA, USA
Employees
10,001+
Presence
NYSE:CRM
Deployment approach
CRM

Loyalty Marketing Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Sits behind a massive Salesforce ecosystem (Marketing Cloud), offering the integration of solutions that could enable an optimized loyalty program focused on the guest, rather than sole loyalty mechanics.
  • The solution enables the engagement of members in other channels such as sales, service, and frontline operations (Member Experience Integration Value Chain Process)
  • Although it does not come “out-of-the-box”, a Salesforce loyalty solution can enable trends, initiatives, and strategic functionalities that can enable loyalty program optimization. Differentiating abilities include the enablement of bots, automation, workflow, personalization, and low-code.
  • Impressive partnership management by going beyond administration, and taking on a B2B approach, using the Benefits Management functionality to trigger benefits in the partner network to diversify benefits, promotions, and rewards, while also incentivizing partners to perform and drive bottom line.
  • Although not transparent in price, the software is admittedly pricier than a player host tool specifically because it’s connected to a wider CRM solution and does not come “out-of-the-box”.
  • Further, the cost coupled with the dedicated resourced required in-house to augment the platform may be a drawback for the organization.
  • Founded in 1999.
  • A recognizable brand with a global presence and a trustworthy track record.
  • Caesars Entertainment is a recognized client, having implemented the Marketing Cloud solution.
Logo for Microsoft.
Vendor Name

Microsoft

Headquarters

WA, USA

Employees

10,001+

Presence

NASDAQ:MSFT

Deployment approach

CRM

Dynamic 365 Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Sits behind a massive Microsoft ecosystem with a host of Microsoft integrations at the organization’s disposal.
  • Includes a variety of channel set-ups including on-property, online, and call center.
  • Offers a wide variety of vendor support methods: FAQs, product guides, update videos, user forums, troubleshooting, and email and phone support.
  • It is not considered a standalone product for a loyalty management system, with the need to implement the entire CRM product. Depending on the organization, the CRM may be deemed out-of-scope in terms of affordability and feature breadth.
  • Unlike Salesforce in terms of product context, Dynamic 365 does not offer features to optimize the loyalty program. There was no mention of Guest Segmentation, Personalization, Partnership Management, or Content Management components.
  • Founded in 1975.
  • A recognizable brand with a global presence and a trustworthy track record.
Logo for Cendyn.
Vendor Name

Cendyn

Headquarters

FL, USA

Employees

501-1,000

Presence

Private

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

eLoyalty Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Includes a content management system (Advanced Loyalty Functionality) to introduce self-reliance for the marketing team when it comes to the configuring and publishing of content, images, and offers.
  • Visibility into profile completion percentage to ensure loyalty members / end-users are completing profile details, limiting knowledge gaps.
  • Recently implemented components include:
    • Ability to award loyalty points on F & B revenue
    • New API field to enable Invite a Friend
    • New API fields available re: points
    • Cendyn & Sabre loyalty enrollment
    • New eGift option and add transactions in bulk
    • Reassign reservations and points
  • Limited product feature documentation; therefore, difficult to determine areas for improvement.
  • Requires eInsight for segmentation, and even then, the product does not offer dynamic segmentation that allows for true personalization.
  • Based on the reporting information available online (Member Arrivals with Preferences, Member Arrival, Loyalty Signups, Sign Up, Transaction, and Voucher), there is no dashboard visualizer.
  • Founded in 1996.
  • Specializes in hotel software products including Marketing, Reservations, Intelligence, Sales, and Revenue.
  • eLoyalty clients include Roomzzz Aparthotels, and Coco Collection.
  • Recognizable clients for other products include IHG, Marriott, Hyatt, Harrah’s, and Hard Rock.
Logo for House Advantage.
Vendor Name

House Advantage

Headquarters

NV, USA

Employees

51-200

Presence

Private

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

Halo Loyalty Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Includes a HALo Event Management solution, an uncommon but beneficial loyalty management feature, that allows local promotions and events teams to schedule events, and add customers to those events either through lists or criteria.
  • Includes mobile access to internal patron management functions.
  • Offers and promotes the Halo Loyalty professional services, which is extremely advantageous for organizations that struggle with marketing and technical loyalty strategy. Services include Strategy, Product Suite, and Integration.
  • Ability to consolidate data in real time from disparate transactional and management systems (CMS, PMS, and POS).
  • Limited product feature documentation and therefore, difficult to determine areas for improvement.
  • Players are segmented solely based on gaming activity or basic loyalty program information: Tier, ADW, and Coin-In.
  • Only mentions “Spend X, Get Y” promotions.
  • Founded in 2004.
  • MGM is a recognizable client, having implemented the Halo Loyalty solution and utilized the vendor to consolidate their ecosystem.
Logo for Oracle.
Vendor Name

Oracle

Headquarters

TX, USA

Employees

10,001+

Presence

NYSE:ORCL

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

CrowdTwist Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Focused on customer engagement strategy with a larger layer of engagement and incentivization. For example, writing a review, referring friends, adding streaks and bonus streaks, watch ads, scavenger hunts, etc.
  • Includes the ability to create gamified marketing efforts, as well as the ability to lock behaviors and create chains (“Do this, then you can do that”).
  • Extensive website abilities that allow end-users to maintain control of the design. For example, the solution offers the creation and customization of widgets, such as activity history, account overview, reward list, survey, upload receipt, invite friends, etc.
  • Can work as a standalone product but would rely on other Oracle systems (i.e. Eloqua, the marketing automation platform) for trigger marketing.
  • Relies on the manual intervention of CrowdTwist developers when it comes to the creation, configuration, and support of segmentation.
Logo for iReckonu.
Vendor Name

iReckonu

Headquarters

NH, NL

Employees

51-200

Presence

Private

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

iReckonu Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • The CORE Middleware integration solution with wrap-around application is well-suited for hotels that have little in-house technology talent.
  • iReckonu offers a fully connected modular ecosystem that simplifies the architecture:
    • CORE: Middleware Platform (System integration, API Portal, etc.)
    • IKnowU: Customer Data Platform (Guest segmentation, Guest profile management, etc.)
    • IGreetU: Virtual Front Desk (Mobile check-in and out, Digital key, etc.)
    • IInformU: Advanced Analytics
    • IAssistU: Member Experience Integration (Engagement app, two-way communication, etc.)
    • IRewardU: Loyalty Platform (Reward connector, retention indicator, etc.)
  • Limited product feature documentation and therefore, difficult to determine areas for improvement.
  • Loyalty system focuses solely on transactional loyalty with recognition pillars including Recency, Frequency, Monetary, and Duration (known as RFM+ scores).
  • Promoting loyalty schemes and rewarding based on RFM+ scores will not fully personalize the experience for guests.
  • Founded in 2015.
  • Recognizable clients include Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Citizen M.
  • Built a 200+ partner ecosystem with vendors like Salesforce, Infor, and Oracle.
Logo for AIMIA.
Vendor Name

AIMIA

Headquarters

ON, CA

Employees

501-1,000

Presence

TSE: AIM

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

Kognitiv Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • The vendor takes on a ‘collaborative commerce’ strategy where organizations can build a loyalty program based on peer-to-peer trading networks. This causes a shift from sales, and toward the capitalization of interactions among the organization, partnership, and guests.
  • The organization will maintain ownership of its own guest data for high data governance.
  • Access to zero-party data with partnerships to ensure that data that is shared, analyzed, and used is intentional.
  • Offers hotel technology solutions for integration to simplify architecture. Systems include Hotel Manager (Sales-related operations), Booking Engine (Distribution channel), Marketing Features (Booking engine promotions, offers, vouchers, etc.), Metasearch Management (Automate marketing budget management), etc.
  • Base segmentation strategy and grouping is predetermined rather than dynamic, offering group pages based solely on loyalty program operations (promotional, reward, location, etc.).
  • Must embed Kognitiv’s SmartJourney methodology to truly segment and personalize the experience. Although an innovative and unique approach, there is the need to choose (and purchase) one of three services: Commerce, Experience, or Fulfillment. This will limit dynamic depth because of associated cost.
  • In 2020, AIMIA Loyalty Solutions and Kognitiv merge form to ‘redefine’ the loyalty industry.
  • Together, they’ve developed a 200+ client portfolio in more than 50 markets globally.
  • Recognizable clients include InterContinental, Auckland Airlines, ALDO, HSBC, and PetSmart.
Logo for Cheetah Digital.
Vendor Name

Cheetah Digital

Headquarters

IL, USA

Employees

1,001-5,000

Presence

Private

Deployment approach

Off-the-Shelf

Cheetah Loyalty Product Highlights

Pricing information is not publicly available.
Strengths Areas for Improvement Vendor Strategy
  • Ability to manage both known members and unknown visitors in the Guest Profile Management feature.
  • Includes a differentiating list of loyalty marketing opportunities including Challenges, Surveys, Games, and Augmented Reality.
  • Offers triggered marketing with the ability to detect property beacons.
  • Enables omnichannel through ‘Placements’ feature where campaigns and offers can be pushed to various channels: Call Center, Email, Digital Wallet, Mobile Application, Web Browser, and Kiosk.
  • Includes a content management system (Advanced Loyalty Functionality) to introduce self-reliance for the marketing team when it comes to the configuring and publishing of content, images, and offers.
  • Limited product feature documentation and therefore, difficult to determine areas for improvement.
  • Although there is mention of triggered marketing, there is no clear mention of a personalization engine or explanation of how personalization would work in the solution.
  • Founded in 1998.
  • Developed a 3,000-brand portfolio in 13 countries.
  • Recognized clients include Choice Hotels, Marriott, and Hilton.
  • CCPA and GDPR certified.

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Research Contributors and Experts

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OpenLoyalty

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Oracle


Bibliography

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“Custom software vs. Off the shelf: the pros & cons” csg, n.d.

“Customer experience: Creating value through transforming customer journeys” McKinsey, 2016.

“Customer Loyalty Management Software 2022: Ultimate Guide” Cuspera, 2022.

Diebner, Rachel et al., “Prediction: The future of CX” McKinsey, 24 February 2021.

“Essential Guide to Modern Loyalty Programs” Cheetah Loyalty, 2022.

“Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022” Antavo, 2022. PDF.

“How to evaluate in-house loyalty programs” Upside, 2021.

“Introducing Loyalty Management: Nurture relationships and create lasting loyalty on the world’s #1 CRM” Salesforce, n.d. .

“Is it time to rethink loyalty programs? KPMG, 2016.

“Is Your Tech Stack Ready For The Modern Consumer?” Formation, 2022.

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Bibliography

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Bibliography

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