Let's take a look at 10 of the most successful marketplace loyalty program ideas, and analyze what makes them so powerful. We’ll take a look at businesses in various industries, from travel and hotels to car rentals and restaurants, that have one thing in common — a thoughtfully designed marketplace-based loyalty program. We’ll also go over what's new in the marketplace industry and how it's growing because it is. Then you'll learn about the loyalty program features, incentives, reward points schemes, and you'll gain new customers around your brand just like them.
How is marketing in the online marketplace industry changing?
There's no better place to reserve a hotel room, rent a car, book a seat at a restaurant, or buy a bus ticket than online booking websites. They're gaining more and more customers because they're user-friendly and can be accessed freely regardless of device, time, and place.
The marketplace sector is growing in sales
To confirm this, let us cite some data. In 2021, about 653 million reservations were made using Booking.com, one of the most popular travel-scheduling platforms. The travel industry is worth about $1.6 trillion worldwide and accounts for one-tenth of the global GDP. Next up, the car rental market is expected to generate $107,144 million by 2027, while the food service industry is projected to reach $898 billion in sales by 2022. This is just a small sample of how vast, diverse, and customer-rich the booking marketplace industry is. Better yet, all companies in this sector can maximize sales and drive even more revenue by creating their very own marketplace loyalty program.
Marketplace businesses invest in loyalty programs
Indeed, there's a growing interest in marketplace loyalty programs, but they tend to be complex and challenging to execute — they have to be built in a dedicated, industry-dependent manner. As a result, businesses often outsource the creation of loyalty programs from scratch, which takes time, effort, and — most importantly — money.
At Open Loyalty, we believe that loyalty solutions can, and should, be affordable and convenient, while businesses shouldn’t be limited by a lack of in-house expertise or resources when setting out to launch a winning loyalty program.
As such, we’ve designed and created a simple, modern solution based on a headless API. Capable of delivering a wide range of campaigns and mechanisms, it has a proven track record of helping businesses big and small manage and scale their loyalty engines at will and gain an edge over the competition.
With that in mind, let's go through 10 noteworthy marketplace loyalty programs in operation and see how you can achieve the same results but with less time and effort.
The top 10 examples of the best marketplace loyalty programs
Equipped with basic knowledge and marketplace data, we can now move on to examples of the best loyalty systems from the marketplace industry. Below, you can find a list of the top 10 marketplace loyalty programs. All of them are from different marketplace sectors, so you can get inspired and realize that any business can have such a loyalty system and work on growing a loyal customers base.
Booking.com needs no introduction. Still, it's an online travel agency and booking platform that was created specifically for reserving accommodation and other travel products. As one of the world's largest travel marketplaces, Booking.com is available in 43 languages and offers more than 28 million reported accommodation listings.
The company has a loyalty program called Genius, where users can create an account to get lifetime access to discounts at facilities around the world. Simply put, people are rewarded for the booking process and for fulfilling their travel goals.
"Our Genius travel rewards are easy to get, easy to find, and easy to keep. While many have already unlocked the benefits of our loyalty program, we want Genius Weeks to be an opportunity for everyone to tap into the simplicity that is Genius," said Arjan Dijk, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Booking.com to Travel Daily Media.
"Whether just getting started or already familiar with the many great rewards available, no matter where you want to travel, with enticing discounts and perks available at hundreds of thousands of properties worldwide, you’ll always feel like you’re making a smart decision with every trip you book," added Arjan Dijk.
At first, Booking.com started with two levels in their loyalty program, but seeing that the Genius reward system was attracting users and getting them to convert in larger numbers, they introduced Genius Level 3 in March 2022.
At Level 1 Genius, users can get a 10% discount on travel destinations. The only requirement is that they need to sign up for the app. Easy one!
At the next level, Genius Level 2, users can get 10-15% off, free breakfast (on select stays), and a free room upgrade (on select stays), but they have to complete five stays within two years.
The last one is for those who really enjoy spending time on the move. At Genius Level 3, users receive a 10-20% discount, free breakfast (on select stays), complimentary room upgrades (on select stays), and priority support on all bookings. However, they must complete 15 stays over two years to be eligible for these benefits.
Uber is an American mobility service provider that operates in approximately 72 countries and 10,500 cities. They offer door-to-door ride services, as well as other forms of transportation, including public transport, bicycles, and the ever-popular scooters. The company also has the top-rated online food ordering and delivery platform connecting consumers with restaurants, grocery stores, and other food sellers.
In 2018, Uber launched a loyalty program that focuses solely on its multiple services: Ride-hailing (Uber) and food delivery (Uber Eats). Users can join the program by entering the Uber Rewards category in their mobile app and accepting the terms and conditions.
In this example, we’ll mainly focus on the ride-hailing aspect of Uber's service. Uber Rewards loyalty system consists of four tiers:
- Blue, 0 pts
- Gold, 500 pts
- Platinum, 2500 pts
- Diamond, 7500 pts
Users can earn 1 point on every eligible dollar they spend on rides, pool trips, and Uber Eats services.
They can receive 2 points for spending money on UberX, Uber XL, Uber Green, Uber WAV/Assist, Uber Comfort, Uber Select, Uber Pet, and Uber Connect trips.
And last but not least, users can count on 3 points for every dollar spent on Uber Black and Uber Black SUV trips.
What rewards can they get in exchange for points? Well, the benefits are wide-ranging and include ride flexibility options, rewards, priority support, priority airport pickup, and even access to top-rated drivers.
"A rewards program has to deliver benefits. We wanted to get it right," said Uber Rewards project director Nundu Janakiram to CNBC. Janakiram added that the company delayed launching the rewards program for so long because they needed a lot of time to research and invest in technology.
Uber stated that the Uber Rewards program required "significant investment." Janakiram said that "we look at the long term and feel that if we invest in customers, they’ll continue to invest in us and choose us." This just goes to show how mature this company's approach to creating a loyalty system is.
Trainline Complete Savings
Trainline is a one-stop shop for train and coach travel. They operate within 45 countries and collect daily information on routes, prices, and travel times from over 270 train operators. All this is done so that their passengers can buy tickets efficiently, saving time and money.
As a company in the travel industry, they've used the Complete Savings online membership program to give their passengers access to a range of discounts and cashback opportunities from reputable retailers and service providers once they make an online purchase on the Trainline website.
With the Complete Savings program in place, Trainline passengers can receive a monthly bonus, as well as up to 10% cash back at over 750 online stores. They can also enjoy a 20% discount on gift cards. As a result, program members can save up to several hundred pounds a year. And nothing is as rewarding as extra money in your wallet.
Orbitz is a travel aggregator website and marketplace that has been ensuring safe and convenient travel for over 20 years. Services provided by Orbitz include booking flights, cruises, hotel rooms, and car rentals. So, it's an excellent place for people researching and planning end-to-end travel and vacations.
They created their own loyalty system called Orbitz Rewards. It's free to join and allows all members to receive money towards their next stay if they book travel in advance.
Members of this rewards system can earn Orbucks, a specially created "currency," when booking flights, hotels, and packages. Then, they can spend Orbucks points on preferred hotels. Plus, as you can read on the Orbitz Rewards website, there are no blackout dates, which is highly beneficial to travelers.
Now let's move on to earning points. So, $1 Orbuck translates into $1 off a hotel stay — this loyalty scheme is so simple that any user can understand it. Most Orbucks expire after a year, but the company reminds its customers of the upcoming deadline through email. This allows them to go into the scheduling software real quick, book a hotel, and enjoy more deals.
If a customer chooses to stay longer, they can expect additional benefits depending on the tier they're at. There are three tiers:
- Silver, the default tier if the user joins a loyalty program
- Gold, if the user stays four nights a year
- Platinum, if the user stays 12 nights a year
"In focus groups with our members, we kept hearing that they wanted more flexibility in the benefits and rewards earned through our program," said Holly Gillespie, Senior Director of Customer Loyalty at Orbitz brand.
"With new Platinum benefits, we’re letting customers choose the rewards that are most valuable to them throughout their trip, whether that’s Wi-Fi on the flight home or a free checked bag. It’s the first test of many as we look to put more Orbucks in the hands of our members and engage with them in new ways," added Holly Gillespie.
Vue is one of the world's leading cinema operators. They operate in ten countries, in over 280 venues, and on over 2,400 screens. Vue's goal is to deliver the finest content combined with state-of-the-art technology in the best environment. The company is steadily developing its premium entertainment offerings on the big screen.
They've started encouraging their loyal visitors to become Vue Members — they can do so for free by filling out a form in 60 seconds.
Vue Members can get many benefits related to:
- Receiving ticket refunds. Members can self-refund tickets purchased online at any time and not lose money when something drops out.
- Getting rewards. Members can unlock rewards and receive freebies, tickets, and snacks.
- Accessing trailer drops. Members can get pre-release information about movies based on their preferences.
Vue Members are always one step ahead of other movie fans with this loyalty program.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is an American hotel company with a portfolio of 20 hotel brands, including Baymont, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, La Quinta, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, and Wyndham. As company officials point out, the company is a world leader when it comes to hotel franchising, with 9,280 locations, which makes them offer the greatest and broadest collection of hotel experiences globally.
The company has introduced the Wyndham Rewards program along with handy Wyndham Rewards Earner® Cards. Customers can earn points for stays and then use them for online purchases. They can also earn points for food delivery and later redeem them for free stays. The Wyndham Rewards program gives its customers many opportunities to earn and redeem points at thousands of hotels, vacation club resorts, and holiday rentals worldwide.
"Wyndham Rewards prides itself on being the world's most generous rewards program, which means we're constantly looking for new ways to help our more than 90 million enrolled members engage with and receive value from the program," said Eliot Hamlisch, executive vice president, Loyalty & Revenue Optimization, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
Hamlisch added that "by teaming with Bakkt and further broadening the program's appeal, we're not only creating opportunities to pull in new members, we're giving existing members even more reasons to stay and earn points with our expansive portfolio of hotels."
In the Wyndham Rewards program, you can find four Member Levels:
- Blue. The default level that the member reaches upon enrollment.
- Gold. The member reaches this level after three nights.
- Platinum. The member reaches this level after nine nights.
- Diamond. The member reaches this level after 24 nights.
Let's take a closer look at three exciting benefits of the Wyndham Rewards program:
- Go free®. Customers can choose how they want to redeem their points with three tiers of free nights, 7,500, 15,000, or 30,000 points per bedroom, which are available at thousands of Wyndham Rewards properties worldwide.
- Go fast®. Customers can get a discounted night's stay for as little as 1,500, 3,000, or 6,000 points per bedroom. In addition, they can earn points for every dollar spent on a room.
- Go get 'em®. Customers can earn 10 points per dollar or 1,000 points for every qualified stay.
As mentioned earlier, points can be redeemed for free or discounted accommodations at more than 30,000 hotels and resorts. Customers can also use their earned points for shopping or vacation activities. It's all up to them!
Wyndham Rewards program members can also apply for the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Cards to earn up to 45,000 bonus points and unlock other options from the Earner Rewards and Earner Perks catalog. What’s more, Card owners can get up to 6x points at Wyndham hotels and on gas purchases. The Card opens up a lot of opportunities for people who are always on the go.
And this is how the Wyndham Rewards program looks in Open Loyalty Campaign Language:
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
Hertz is an American car rental company. They consider themselves the only truly global car rental company, having provided quality car rental services for over 90 years.
Customers can join the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program for free, receive 1 point for every dollar spent, and redeem them for car rental rewards. They can book any type of car rental for rewards, including one-way rentals and luxury vehicles from the Prestige and Green collections. On top of that, members of the loyalty program can look forward to other fantastic benefits, such as:
- Earning points toward free rental car days
- Choosing from a wide selection of cars
- Avoiding queues and getting paperwork done quicker
- Exchanging points for free rentals or upgrades
- Earning premium status for frequent rentals
- Adding another driver for free
- Transferring points to other travel programs
There are three loyalty tiers available in the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program: Gold, Five Star, President's Circle. All benefits for each loyalty tier are listed in the table below.
Hertz has created detailed Points Rewards Charts for Daily Rentals, Weekly Rentals, and One-Way Rentals. Benefits there are associated with free rentals for days or weeks of:
- Compact to premium cars.
- Specialty Vehicles. This is a line of luxury cars, mid-size SUVs, minivans or convertibles.
- Adrenaline Collection. This is a line of head-turning, heart-pumping, high-performance versions of muscle cars.
- Hertz Prestige Collection. This is a unique line of high-end, luxury vehicles.
The Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program allows car renters to get around town in the style they like and appreciate.
American Airlines is a major US-based airline and the world's largest airline when measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, and revenue per passenger-mile.
The company launched AAdvantage® loyalty program as a go-to strategy for delivering world-class customer experience. AAdvantage® members can earn miles by traveling on American, oneworld®, and other participating airlines. They can also use services provided by its 1,000 partners, from industries such as car rental, hotel stays, dining out, or ordering in, to earn miles. These miles can then be redeemed for:
- Flights to nearly 1,100 destinations worldwide
- Upgrades and a higher cabin of service
- Vacations packages, car awards/rentals, and hotel awards
- Other retail products
Additionally, customers of American Airlines are encouraged to use their AAdvantage® credit card to earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned on purchases made using the U.S. or internationally-issued AAdvantage® credit card. This makes it easy for loyalty program members to track their progress toward AAdvantage® status with Loyalty Points.
"The past few years have taught us that loyalty is not one-size-fits all — it comes in different forms," said Alison Taylor, American’s Chief Customer Officer. Taylor added that they "recognize the path to earning status is different for each individual, which is why we’re giving members more ways to earn Loyalty Points — whether by flying, shopping or using an AAdvantage credit card. We want to make it easier for our customers to achieve status wherever they may be in their travel journey."
OpenTable is an online restaurant-reservation service company that handles the end-to-end process between restaurants and diners since 1998. They help restaurants offer their cuisine, and diners find and book the perfect seat at the establishment of their choice. OpenTable has vast experience in the restaurant industry and serves over 1 billion guests each year.
Wanting to fulfill their mission of connecting people with the restaurants they love, the company created the OpenTable loyalty program. Members of this loyalty program can earn points for dining out, which can happen quite often throughout the year, right?
First, members need to create an account to make reservations. Afterwards, they can start earning points once they've booked a seat at a restaurant. In the final step, they can redeem their points for rewards, such as a Dining Reward, and rewards from third-party sellers, such as KAYAK hotel savings, a Magazine subscription, or an Amazon gift card.
"As we look for ways to enhance our OpenTable Rewards program, we want to ensure we're giving diners what they want, and getting into the best restaurants at prime dining times topped the list," said Joseph Essas, Chief Technology Officer, OpenTable. "We're excited to reward frequent diners with the ability to book highly sought after reservations with less lead time."
Now, let's discuss in more detail how diners can earn points. If they make a standard reservation, they can get 100 points. But they can also "hit the jackpot" and receive 1,000 points, as restaurants can offer Bonus Points at their discretion. More about that in a moment.
Next, when loyalty program members earn 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 points, they can redeem them for $15, $37, and $75 discounts on take-out orders and reservations made through the iOS app. Other options for redeeming points include restaurant and travel discounts, as well as the previously mentioned benefits such as magazine subscriptions and gift cards.
The marketplace loyalty program also gives restaurants and catering businesses an edge because they can use Bonus Points at any time. With Bonus Points, they can attract high-value diners to OpenTable and encourage them to visit the restaurant by offering up to 10 times the normal Dining Rewards points.
The element of surprise and rewards-motivated dining is the perfect solution — it motivates repeat bookings because there's a possibility to multiply points. Also, such an incentive helps undecided guests take the next step and make a reservation at the restaurant.
Greyhound Road Rewards
Greyhound Lines, Inc. is the largest intercity bus service provider in North America, operating 123 routes, 230 full-service stations, and 1,700 coach buses. The company serves 2400 destinations and provides travel for nearly 16 million passengers annually in the United States and Canada.
Since Greyhound is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, they decided to strengthen their relationships with customers by creating a special rewards system — Road Rewards.
"This program allows us to reward loyalty, encouraging our most frequent riders to continue to choose Greyhound while also attracting new customers," said Patty Herbeck, Greyhound's director of marketing. "Now we're ensuring that every customer has a chance to earn rewards."
Members of this marketplace loyalty system can earn points for each trip. Just one round trip is worth 2 points (or 6 points if the customer uses the Flexible fare). Customers are free to decide when to redeem points. By collecting points, travelers can reach subsequent point levels and then unlock rewards and discounts. The number of points earned depends on the type of fare, so customers can get:
- 1 point for each one-way trip for Economy fares
- 2 points for each one-way trip for Economy Extra fares
- 3 points for each one-way trip for Flexible fares
Then, if the traveler collects:
- 6 points, they can get 15% off the ticket, a companion pass for a friend, or 10% off food at a Greyhound Station.
- 10 points, they can get 20% off the ticket or a companion pass for a friend.
- 16 points, they can get a free ticket anywhere.
There's a catch, though: Travelers can collect Road Rewards points for 12 months, and after that period, their value resets to zero. But we all use buses as a means of transportation, so there's little chance that points will be wasted.
What do successful marketplace loyalty programs have in common?
These are just ten examples of the best marketplace loyalty programs, but you can see some patterns here. Let's go through them, shall we?
Promote the business's offerings
First and foremost, marketplace loyalty programs are designed to promote the full brand offering and present it to the audience in a compelling way. Customers can literally experience the entire product/service range through the loyalty program. They can get personalized offers before their eyes, and this encourages them to buy in exchange for points and rewards.
Use cutting-edge technologies and features
Besides, the discussed marketplace loyalty programs use modern technologies, such as dedicated mobile apps and physical/digital cards, to make point collection easy and convenient. The goal is to make the rewards system and loyalty programs as accessible as possible to the customer.
Provide tiered incentives and rewards
The final point is that the presented marketplace loyalty programs provide a diverse and tiered range of benefits. Loyalty program managers make every effort to ensure that their programs are attractive and valuable. They focus on making the purchasing process seamless and select those loyalty program benefits that extend the customer journey or improve the customer experience.
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To get some loyalty program inspiration, check out the Top 100 Loyalty Programs report, or peek into the future of the loyalty industry with our Loyalty Trends 2022 research.