Passport vs Ticket

Most of loyalty programs have the same essence: “Let’s give something to someone”. In order to execute this, you need to communicate the reward and issue it. When communication and issuance are happening in different channels, there is a need to recognise this “someone” and validate that he or she deserve that “something”.

Imagine you want to grant free stylist session to your most loyal buyers. You are sending the email. People are coming to the store and approaching the staff:
– Hey, I’m here for my free shopping with a stylist.
– Cool! Sorry, shopping will not be free. — Lucky you, your store assistant has some sense of humour. — But the stylist, yes, for sure! Give me a moment.

There are two general approaches to validate that the person in front of you deserve the gift: a passport and a ticket.

  • Passport identifies the person. Most common example is a loyalty card. There should be set of specific rules (“do this and get that”) or a record in your database that connects member’s ID with a list of granted rewards.
  • Ticket identifies the service. It could come in a form of unique promo code or even a physical hand out. Once accessed, ticket will be destroyed or marked as redeemed. This is also a natural way to protect it from being misused or shared around.

In a way, passports and tickets are created as self-operating systems. Your national ID with your photo confirms your identity, as well as owning a cinema ticket confirms your right to watch a movie. You don’t need connected infrastructure to validate this. The level of security (amount of efforts to steal, copy or emulate) should be inline with the associated value.

If you have 3 events planned, you need 3 tickets. If you are going to a shopping mall, you will need to take all your 300 loyalty cards. Mobile phones are not helping there, cause carrying 300 loyalty apps is the same heavy. Brands are trying to solve this by connecting their programs to unified identifiers: mobile number (with or without SMS verification), transportation cards or even Face ID.

In brands’ world, each ticket is usually connected to specific passport. This allows to track members, rewards and relations between them. So, do we even need tickets? Can’t you just use the passport approach everywhere, and let the software do all necessary background checks? Imagine you want to give a discount in your online store. On one hand, you could distribute unpersonalised promo codes, on the other hand, ask people to log in to identify them to receive the same reward. What is better?

  • Passport is good for repeating actions, while ticket is the best for one time needs. It will be stupid to access a gym with a separate code every time, and it’s also stupid to use your national ID each time you want to go to a theater.
  • Passport is usually connected to declared brand’s obligations, while ticket feel much more exclusive. Hey, this is my membership card, so give me my 5% cash back right now, you idiot! Wow, this R62XZN24N7 promo code looks really unique! What a reward, thank you! I will never forget it.
  • Passport considered to be personal, so sometime ticket feels more secure. Somewhere in China you can pay for a subway via face recognition, but wouldn’t you prefer to use a generic travel card instead? Also, tickets could be distributed across non-members which makes them the best for welcome gifts.

I think the proper membership program should be based on passport connected to a universal identifier and use it as much as possible to simplify most of consumers interactions. Also, it should be balanced with the right amount of tickets that perceived like an extra reward and make people feel special.

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