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Extra point: Are customer loyalty programs really worth it?

The retail marketplace in all forms and fashion is a tough, competitive field, regardless if you're talking about battling hotels, airlines vying for business or even the plethora of retailers that offer similar products and services but realize that they're vying for business against one another, and there's only so much consumer money available.
Buyers make tough choices and inevitably are drawn to the best deals and even better pricing. For some, pricing isn't the only driving force behind the purchases and products you're drawn to, which is why customer loyalty programs, preferred member cards and earning bonus points (or miles in the airline world), rank as incredibly important to prospective customers.
These programs make spending money a little easier knowing that dollars that leave you will be returned in some form or fashion, be it points to put toward a hotel room, discount coupons, percentage off deals or the opportunity to travel without paying full price.
The truth is loyalty programs hardly are created equal, and some fall woefully short in giving customers exactly what they want or, quite frankly, deserve for the amount of money they spend specifically with one particular company.
A few loyalty programs pair together with another service, which makes it easier to shop at one store, knowing you're getting something in return that is practical. Grocery stores tend to offer gas perks for spending certain amounts of money, while some give a percentage back to spend in the store. The latter isn't quite as enticing given the percentage amount isn't anything worth noting (usually a few percentage points at best).

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Naturally, consumers want a loyalty programs that is remarkably clear cut and to the point. Ambiguity as it relates to loyalty perks is quite frustrating, especially when those so called benefits are shrouded in uncertainty or limitations. Of course, companies always have a loophole or fine print of sorts when it comes to deals and freebies but some clearly are worse than others. Giving someone hotel points to use should simply mean they get to cash in and get a free room, without having to choose from weekends, days or times of the year that are convenient for the person giving the rewards, rather than getting them.
The loyalty programs that just plain work are the ones that reward customers for buying or visiting and just flat out allow customers to rack of points and use them as they see fit.
No strings attached, no catches just actual rewards for customers that have helped grow and sustain your business backed by their continued support.
Anything aside from that seems like more work for customers. Granted, businesses can't install loyalty programs or perks that end of costing them money. Consumers aren't stupid; we get it. Businesses want to make money, but that mentality shouldn't come at the expense of promising customers benefits for loyalty when actually all they're getting is rhetoric and advertising that sounds promising but quickly bottoms out.

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