Not every loyalty initiative will succeed; in fact, for many brands, new programs and strategies are never perfect in an initial launch. Learning from challenges is a key element of building a successful program. After rolling out a new loyalty program, Margaritaville had the opportunity to enjoy parts of the program’s success, but also test, learn from, and improve the program in various ways.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Claudia Infante, Senior Vice President of Revenue Strategy for Margaritaville, about her upcoming session at the 2023 Loyalty Expo, which will focus on how Margaritaville learned from challenges and successes from launching its new loyalty program, Margaritaville Perks.
For those who may not know Margaritaville, would you tell us about what Margaritaville does and the diverse portfolio it has?
Infante: Margaritaville is a lifestyle brand that encompasses everything from apparel, shoes, flip flops, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, all the way to homes. We have free-standing restaurants, we have about 30 resorts with different types of lodging categories. We also have living communities for adults who are 55 and better. We have a cruise ship that will soon have other potential sisters and brothers out there in the seas. We also have a full line of services, including franchise services for international and domestic resorts, hotels, and RV camps. We are also in the data and loyalty space. It’s a lifestyle that is a full cycle for our consumers. My role at Margaritaville is to grow that cycle and make sure we are capturing the consumer where they are and driving this brand to be an everyday brand for our consumers.
Can you tell us more about your role within Margaritaville?
Infante: I oversee revenue strategy for the brand, basically everything geared toward strategy with the properties whether it’s the hotels, casinos, or business units. It’s all about gathering data and bringing all the intelligence we need to make sure the experiences we’re offering are consistent across all our products and our partners are getting value from that data. Our hotel partners, our cruise partners, and our restaurant partners can tap into that knowledge of data we are gathering and then they can create strategies and marketing strategies that benefit their bottom line.
Can you give us a brief overview of what you plan to present at the 2023 Loyalty Expo?
Infante: We launched a loyalty program a couple years ago in beta and last year in full. This year, we want to talk about what was successful in this program, but we also want to open the Kimono and say not everything was flowers and chocolates, not everything was perfectly laid out. This year’s session is about the lessons we learned as we failed in some items, and not only failed, but failed with a little bit of grace and tried to figure out how to bring that back to the consumers in a way they feel rewarded even if their experiences may not have been perfect. We talked a little about family reunions, the drunk uncle, what happens when things are not necessarily perfect, and how to come back from them.
At the same time that we are growing, learning, and bringing new products to market, we want to be good partners and members of Loyalty360. We do want to share our learnings and make ourselves available to your partners and other brands, so they don’t have to learn the lessons the hard way like we had to learn them.
Who do you think would benefit the most from your session at the 2023 Loyalty Expo?
I’m also up for a good time, so if you’re up for a good time, come to the session. We’ll figure out a way to make it fun and entertaining. Margaritaville is all about escaping the ordinary. The more we can include everyone in the sessions, the better we can do.
Obviously, if you have a loyalty program already in place and you have consumer brands or products, restaurants, or hospitality services, that’s our niche. But the session is about learning, which is always good when you’re dealing with loyalty. Loyalty, thank goodness, is a standard terminology across different industries. The learnings may not necessarily reflect your specific situation, but you will ultimately be able to take something away and learn from our experience.
What are a few key takeaways attendees should expect from the session?
Infante: I will talk about metrics and how important they are. Not only on the digital side of things, the conversion side, and where people are buying or creating loyalty as they go, but the metrics of when those loyalty touchpoints are not perfect. We will go toward that experience of delivering that loyalty program and recognition to that consumer and how those metrics are helping us understand where those failure points are.
I will talk about the recovery side of loyalty. What happens when you have a loyalty member whose experience may not have been perfect, and now you’re trying to not only compensate for that experience but making sure they are still a loyalty member right after and you can continue engaging with them.
Then, in general, how to bring your teams together so that everyone understands what the mission of the loyalty program is and how to deliver it to the different touchpoints. That was one of our learnings. Communication breaks down sometimes, especially with staffing being such a challenge in the lodging and general service industry. The more you water down the training because you’re in a hurry and training people so fast, the more opportunities there are for the experience to not be optimal.