The holidays are a time for thinking about others, but let’s not kid ourselves. For your customers, their increased spending means increased stress. This strain means a well timed holiday reward could really forge some good will as well as provide a little for those who are giving a lot.

This doesn’t just mean physical rewards. This means being thoughtful. The best rewards program have high engagement and appeal to the spirit of the holiday season. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones out there which fit this criteria.


Starbucks Holiday Cups

starbucks give good

During the rest of the year, Starbucks reward program offers a gamified experience which appeals to today’s tech savvy customer. However, in 2017, their #givegood campaign took the already anticipated idea of holiday cups and give it a makeover with an egalitarian bent.

The new holiday cups brought out show a special holiday design which encourages creativity and generosity making it the best rewards program out there. Continuing the tradition, this is the 20th anniversary of the holiday cup and this year they are pulling out all the stops. The cups themselves have holding hands to show their generous holiday spirit.

More than just a good looking and ‘inspirational’ cup, the whole of December Starbucks street teams are out there giving out rewards to local communities. Within these communities, $1 million worth of store cards which are automatically at gold level status. It goes to show a little holiday cheer goes a long way.


Marriott Rewards for Winter Wonderland Breaks

In terms of customer loyalty, especially in the hyper competitive world of hospitality, the Marriott is one of the big players. Not only does it have the amount of locations a global hotel franchise needs to make it worthwhile for a customer loyalty program, but it has a comprehensive system designed to suit all who stay in them.

Their customer loyalty program is based on a mixture of points based and tiered based systems. While, for a less organized customer loyalty program, this would seem like trouble, it is actually easy to navigate thanks to a comprehensive detailing of what you can expect to receive for your custom.

There are two modes of rewards. The first is the number of nights stay you spend at one of their hotels. This is collected on your account and tallied for the tiers you want to advance upwards. These are Rewards Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite and (you may have already guessed it) Platinum Elite.

Your level of loyalty sets out the specific rewards you are able to reap. On the lowest level these include lowest rates when booking directly and complementary internet access. For the highest level, you get everything from late checkout and complimentary breakfast to bonus points and the always sought after complimentary upgrade. 

Points are also awarded for the additional items to spend with the company such as beauty treatments, meals and any of the specifics one location might offer over another. These points are collected and go towards giving you a lifetime membership (for the really seasoned traveller).

In terms of holiday reward programs, this means you can use these points and tier based loyalty system to get a ski resort holiday to guarantee a white Christmas (if you’re in to that sort of thing). You can stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Colorado, the same in California or even the Sochi in the heart of the Gorky Gorod ski resort in Russia.


Nordstrom Holiday Party

While Skiing might be the perfect break for some, it’s not for everybody. Some people much prefer kicking back and keeping it sociable closer to home. There’s nothing quite like a party to get the holiday spirits up.

This is why luxury department store Nordstrom has you well catered for. Their use of points is ideally suited for those who want to get all their holiday purchases in the one place. Throughout the year, those who engaged in the Nordstrom customer loyalty program get $20 to use in store for every 2000 points they earn on their card.

Like the Marriott, there is also a tiered system which goes from Level 1 to Level 4. On the run up to the holidays, those on Level 1 get to choose any day in December where every dollar spent in store will give them 10 points reward. All you have to do is schedule the day on their website.

For Level 2 and above, this offer doesn’t need a sign up because it occurs on every day from 24th November to 25th December. This means so many points, you’ll be able to buy next years holiday gifts before this year is even over.

This isn’t all, though. For Level 2 and above, there is an invite only private holiday shopping party which is run on different days at the end of November and start of December. Members get to shop without any hindrance as well as enjoy the platters of free appetizers and Champagne.

Michaels Holiday Make Your Joy

Michaels, the ‘arts, crafts and more’ chain had a special customer loyalty rewards program which has yet to come back again, but we have included as a good example of what should be done over the holidays.

We think this probably hasn’t come back yet because it is quite an advanced idea which maybe wasn’t as feasible when it was launched in 2012. However, now this incredibly thoughtful reward and loyalty program is likely to fair much better thanks to the right use of software and promotion.

The program was known as Make Your Joy. It used a special online holiday planner which were customers registered for the program and then logged onto the calendar. Michaels then put on special events leading up to the holiday season where customers could win prizes, make good on special offers and even engage with the rest of the community.

This is such a good example of a bespoke holiday reward program because it appealed to the right audience. In the case of Michaels, this was creative people. Users could share small pieces of inspiration through the loyalty program as well as collaborate on special holiday projects. All of this plus the special ‘stress busting’ prizes which included $1,000 gift cards and a trip for two to Mexico. It is the kind of forward thinking holiday loyalty program we are likely to see much more of in the future.

Johnny Reyes
PM & UX/UI Specialist
Product management

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