60 Seconds with James Goudreau and Peter Ackerson, ClickRewards executives

60 Seconds with James Goudreau and Peter Ackerson, ClickRewards executives

InsideFlyer
When was the official launch of the new Click Rewards?
Goudreau
We did a soft launch on May 15, 2002; the promotion stuff started the second week of June.

IF
Bring us up to date on the new ClickRewards.
Goudreau
It’s for people who do frequent online purchasing and people who own businesses and who want to get value from frequent flyer programs. They can really leverage what we have on our site to give themselves a boost. If you’re going to shop at OfficeMax, for example, you’re going to get frequent-flyer miles when you purchase with your American Airlines credit card. But OfficeMax is not going to give you additional miles on top of that. Our site is a springboard to get additional rewards.

IF
How many merchants have you been able to rebuild? Where are you in your merchant count, and how does that look over the next year?
Ackerson
We have about 140 merchants, adding an average of five a week. What we’re trying to build is categories; for example, where small businesses could go and get their insurance covered. I think it’s true to say there is no other site that offers better value for your frequent-flyer miles. 500 ClickMiles for 500 air miles I think is the best value out there.

IF
In terms of the promotions, is your membership growing well for you? Will there be bonuses for new members? Where are you at in terms of growing?
Goudreau
There are two sides to this business. We want the best deals and values for our current members. We have gone to all the merchants and negotiated higher returns over the holiday season. On the other side of the coin, it’s about acquiring new members. Previously, the merchant used to buy miles in a bucket, and then hand them out to people and they would become members. We are launching over the next two months a series of different programs aimed at people who have databases like InsideFlyer, who have a lot of members who want to share in the ability to build a large pool of consumers whose numbers speak volumes. So we have turned on our affiliate program now, where if new members join through another site or location, can in actuality, actually earn and refer a friend and you will earn points ontheir activity as well. Any site can earn revenue by referring members as well.

IF
So far you’ve just got American and US Airways as mileage partners. Is there any timetable for a third airline?
Goudreau
Dependent on our technology. It should be the third week of January.

IF
What about hotel programs?
Goudreau
Yes, the movement back to the travel specifics will include hotel partners.

IF
Is your model the original Click Rewards, or are you going someplace different?
Ackerson
We have a different motto now. Instead of being driven by the merchant coming to us, we’re driven by what the members want. So if somebody comes to us and says, “We’re going to offer you a great deal on resoling shoes,” we don’t have to jump to that. We can try to be more responsive to what the members want, and turn it all around. We did have a challenge with the re-launch. I guess the way it was shut down left some bad tastes in some people’s mouths. Horror stories about people who were asking, “Should I cash in my points?” and were told no. That was wrong, but we did not own the business then.

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