Collinson: Driving Deeper Devotion with Enriched Travel Experiences

In today’s digital world, customers are expecting more convenience and personalized experiences in terms of any of the services provided to them. Taking this into consideration, Collinson stepped into the market with a mission to deliver to the world smarter customer experiences. In an interview with Insights Success, Christopher Evans, the Joint CEO of Collinson shares his valuable insights on how the company is engaging deeper with its customers, enriching their travel experiences, protecting their interests, and assisting them in times of need.

Below are highlights from the interview:

Give a brief overview of the company, its uniqueness and its vision. 

Collinson is a global leader in customer benefits and loyalty. Over the past 30 years, we have used our expertise to help many of the world’s best-known brands to acquire, engage, and retain the most profitable and demanding customers. We deliver exceptional travel, insurance and assistance products that differentiate value propositions, and loyalty solutions that win deeper, more valuable customer relationships.

Innovation has always been at our core. Our continued success comes from harnessing our entrepreneurial spirit and learning from running successful brands in our own right. These include Priority Pass™, recognized worldwide as the original, independent airport experiences program. In addition, our loyalty business grew from anticipating that companies would need to balance their focus on acquiring new customers with understanding who they are, in order to deliver their needs.

Through directly servicing over 50 million of our own end-customers, as well as the millions of our clients’ consumers, we have gained a unique insight into digitally-engaged mass affluent travelers and mid- to high-net worth consumers. We conduct ongoing research with both our clients and end consumers to understand their ever-changing needs, attitudes, and behaviors to help us to craft smarter customer experiences.

We are now the chosen partner for leading payment networks, over 600 banks, 90 airlines, 20 hotel groups, and top retailers globally, generating over $1billion of revenue. Our clients include American Express, Hilton, Air France KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, MasterCard, Radisson Hotel Group, RSA, Saudia, UnionPay, Vhi and Visa.

Kindly describe how the solutions offered by Collinson are enriching travel experiences? 

Almost 30 years ago, our founder watched premium-class passengers enjoying the exclusivity and tranquility of airport lounges, as he endured the chaos of the departure hall. His answer was to create Priority Pass – a program that transforms the airport experience from an endurance test into a moment of indulgence, regardless of airline ticket. Decades on, Priority Pass remains the market-leading airport experiences program. Over the years we’ve discovered how enriching these experiences are, as they have been used by hundreds of premium brands to attract and retain high value, regular traveling customers.

We have continued to innovate Priority Pass to enrich travel experiences, beyond the lounges, to include access to dining and spa discounts and other experiences in airports. In September last year, we announced our investment in Grab – an airport e-commerce platform providing mobile order-ahead capabilities at airports across the UK and US. It enables travelers to skip the line, while for airport food and beverage and retail providers it increases their potential customer base.

With airline punctuality being unreliable at times, and increasingly busy airports, we saw an opportunity to develop SmartDelay™, our flight delay assistance product, to help ease the pain of flight delays and remove the need for lengthy travel claims from our clients’ customers by offering an instantly redeemable benefit.

We also help leading airline, travel, hospitality and banking brands better engage their members and increase revenue and profitably through our white-labeled points earning and redemption solutions. These give frequent flyers and guests greater opportunities to earn and redeem loyalty currency outside of a brand’s core offering, ultimately driving deeper engagement and more profitable relationships.

With the emerging trends in the travel and tourism industry, how is Collinson driving itself to create an impact on its customers? 

It’s a fascinating and challenging time for the industry. While travel is more popular than ever, it’s also more competitive. In fact, attracting and retaining customers has never been harder for travel businesses.

The way people research and book travel has changed completely. Consumers check out destinations on the fly, crowd source recommendations on social media, then book on their smartphones. The cheapest flights, coolest experiences and best accommodation are often one click away on a single platform.

Brands from all verticals are jostling for customer attention as they expand into complementary and more experience-based offerings. It’s never been more important for brands to react to this new experience economy and grow revenues through deeper engagement with passengers and members.

Our expertise, experience, and delivery enable us to excel at co-creating innovative products and services with clients that enrich customer travel experiences globally. We will continuously strive to improve the airport and travel experience for our clients and their premium customers, creating exclusive rewards and benefits that are best delivered by Collinson because of our scale, global relationships, and partnerships, as well as our innovative approach.

How does the organization protect the interests of its customers and how it assists them in times of need? 

Collinson helps to protect the interests of our clients’ customers, and our own, and assist in times of need. Our travel insurance solutions blend our unique experience across sectors to deliver smarter products that respond to the individual needs of every customer.

We have experience in the travel insurance industry across a wide range of demographics including general mass market, over 50s’, students and impaired risk. Our expertise covers sales, product design, underwriting, medical screening, claims, and assistance services.

Our customer service ethos, “Delivering Service Differently,” recognizes that every customer is different and each interaction matters. We provide our partners and their customers with a personalized service and tailored support while always keeping the customer at the forefront.

Collinson also provides a global traveler assistance service, supporting customers at home, on the road, or abroad through claims handling and management services. Our 24-hour specialist teams operate robust independent networks and we pride ourselves on delivering superior assistance through our experienced case handlers. We recently joined forces with Drum Cussac to launch a 24/7/365 integrated travel risk management solution that enhances the wellbeing of employees traveling abroad and helps organizations fulfill their duty of care and beyond.

Our assistance business offers a responsive and intuitive claims and assistance service when customers need us the most. We’re committed to creating the best possible customer experience at every touch-point and work with our partners to tailor the most appropriate solution for their business model and customer base. In the travel insurance context, it’s important that the necessary ‘human channels’ are in place for customers to quickly talk to an expert. The key is finding a balance between the human and digital interaction at the correct time – it’s so important that we get this right, given the impact it can have on a customer who is in the middle of a travel emergency, for example.

What are the strategies of Collinson to engage deeply with customers? Tell us more about your Loyalty solutions. 

Today’s choice-rich consumers expect more for their loyalty than ever. Working with leading brands around the world, we craft experiences that enable them to acquire, engage, and retain the most demanding customers.

When delivered correctly, loyalty can be a powerful way to positively influence customers, and a brand’s bottom line. But this is getting harder to achieve.

Our loyalty experts differentiate each client’s proposition using our unique combination of strategy, award-winning solutions, and services. Over the last few years, we’ve built an even more seamless approach – mapping out precisely what the customer wants and expects and introducing products and services that help our clients deliver on those objectives. We have a customer-first focus – using insights to understand the customer, then designing and delivering motivating and compelling experiences.

Our innovative loyalty solutions are tailored to allow global travel, financial services, and retail brands to address their opportunity gaps and drive customer devotion, both in-store and online. Our powerful loyalty platforms give brands the ability to track, recognize, reward, and communicate with their members to deliver a truly personalized, seamless experience. Our points earning and redemption solutions also drive deeper engagement by providing members with greater choice and personalized shopping experiences when earning and burning their loyalty currency.

How according to you could the potential evolution of travel and tourism affect the industry, and how does Collinson envision sustaining its competency? 

In today’s ‘experience economy’ people choose to spend their time and money on enjoyable experiences that enrich their lives. Consumers are looking more for meaning in what they do: possessions are proving less rewarding than the memories and learnings they gain from the things they do.

Our latest global research shows that travel is consumers’ go-to option when choosing how to spend their time and money – good news for airlines, airports, travel providers, and suppliers.

We believe customer experience is the ultimate battleground between competing brands. To add value and differentiate themselves, companies need to find new ways to embed benefits throughout a customer experience that are thoughtful, relevant, and that create the potential for a more emotional connection. Brands that offer products and services that drive better experiences will reap the rewards of customer loyalty, and a greater share of wallet. By continuously innovating, we’ll ensure our clients benefit from exceptional travel, insurance and assistance products, and loyalty solutions.

Give a detailed description of the featured personnel’s influence over the company. 

As joint CEO of Collinson alongside my brother David, it’s my responsibility to create the company’s vision and to lead our global teams as we strive to achieve it. I work in close partnership with our many offices across four regions, delivering our strategy and commercial goals.

My role is also to foster a culture of innovation, so that bright ideas shine through. This spirit of innovation allows us to deliver a better service for our diverse profile of global clients and their end-customers.

At Collinson, I challenge myself and others to keep a relentless focus on smarter client solutions and end-customer experiences. My colleagues are the company’s greatest asset – they have a wealth of expertise in various sectors, and I credit them with our success over the years. I aim to inspire our business leaders to be open to different ways of working; our market is dynamic, and everyone in Collinson has a role to play, not just David and I.

Where does Collinson see itself in the long run and what are its future goals? 

Collinson has continuously innovated for over 30 years and seen phenomenal progress through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisition and reinvestment. As a privately-owned business we have the stability and ability to make long-term decisions.

We will continue to develop existing and new strategic partnerships to enhance our offering, leveraging long-term partnerships with third parties, including card issuers, retail banks, processers, and technology companies. We have a clear roadmap for developing our travel experiences platform, as well as our loyalty solutions that combine proprietary technology and expertise. And we will continually seek to work with best in-class partners and consider potential acquisitions to achieve our vision of providing consumers with a smarter experience that enhances their lives.

We’ll continue to grow our own expertise with new products, services and solutions, cross-selling into new and existing clients while expanding into new geographies and increasing our global presence.

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