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Hey Hospitality, Here’s How to Spend Your Virtual Currency

By Brad Cohen | Posted on May 01, 2014

Hey Hospitality, Here’s How to Spend Your Virtual Currency

What would you do if you had infinite dollars? Buy a time machine? Me too!!! So, this isn’t normally a question most of us get to contemplate, but there is one group of marketers for whom this isn’t such a crazy conceit – hospitality industry marketers. And here’s the easy secret to how hospitality can augment customer profiles with rich social data.

The hospitality industry is deep into loyalty programs. Anyone who travels is probably running programs for multiple hotel chains, and these points systems are a form of virtual currency used to incentivize brand loyalty and reward their most important customers. This virtual currency also represents huge opportunities for hospitality marketers to incentivize other types of engagement with their customers.

If you’re a hospitality industry marketer, congratulations! You hospitality folk know a lot about your customers, but you’re still missing some of the rich psychographic and behavioral data that can easily be collected from social profiles. Incentivizing existing customers to merge their social identities from Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram, and more into their loyalty accounts gives you access to the data and content from those social profiles and appends it to what you already know. Instagram might allow for user generated content, G+ may give access to YouTube activity to trigger potential destination cities based on videos watched, or Facebook might give you the cities that friends and relatives live in (and where the customer may desire to travel).

I’ve worked with dozens of brands across many different verticals, and the most common marketing pain point I encounter is a lack of assets that are valuable enough to users to incentivize behavior or participation in campaigns. So whenever I’m talking to someone in hospitality I nearly start to salivate at the opportunity you have.

Here’s what we’re looking at for hospitality:

  • You’ve got customers invested in your loyalty program, and you’d like to know more about these customers so that you can market to them better.
  • You’ve got a virtual currency that you can basically give away.
  • You need a “merge account” flow to help the customer easily link their existing account to their social profiles.

And the formula for getting there is simple: offer rewards points for merging accounts, and offer more points for each additional account that is merged. You’re that close to getting a 360° view of your customers across all of their social profiles and appending tons of valuable and accurate data to your existing records.

According to a recent report, basic demographic, contact, and social profile data would cost about $11.80 per customer to purchase and append. A little bit of virtual currency costs essentially nothing. This is a no brainer, and a cost effective way to bolster your customer data and create opportunities for future targeting, personalization, and campaign activities.

Should we run the math on it?

Scenario 1 – Paying for Customer Data

  • 100,000 user records with partial data
  • Cost to append data = $5.90 per user (assume ½ the 11.80 mentioned above based on partial data already in the record)
  • Total cost for data = $590,000
  • Let’s add in a 70% data failure rate for inaccurate data and you could be stuck with 70,000 users still without a full record or with inaccurate data (Bloomberg)
  • Then let’s assume that another 25% of this data changes or is out of data within a year of the purchase

Scenario 2 – Janrain Social Account Merging for Virtual Currency

  • 100,000 user records with partial data stored under your Janrain license
  • Total cost for data = $0.00
  • Data failure rate is more like 10% instead of 70% (Bloomberg)
  • Data is refreshed with user logins ensuring it stays up-to-date over time

Increasing open rates and click-through rates might not be able to justify spending nearly $600,000 on data append, but if that data can be captured without a per-user cost using a platform like Janrain, it starts to make a lot more sense. If you’re wondering what these numbers would look like for your situation specifically, get in touch and we’ll be happy to consult with you.

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About the author

Brad Cohen

Director of Communications

Brad is Director of Marketing Communications at Janrain. Brad has experience across the digital landscape, including SEO, content strategy, content creation, development and creative direction, and installation projects for brands like Google, Nike, Intel, Nestle, Adobe, Verizon, AT&T, Oracle, and more. Brad enjoys driving discourse around marketing strategy, technology, and infrastructure.

View all posts by Brad Cohen