Collinson: Enabling Clients to Deliver Smarter and Improved Customer Experiences

In an interview with Insights Success, the Joint CEO of Collinson, David Evans, shares important insights showcasing the valuable contribution of the organization and its journey in delivering loyalty solutions and travel experiences, insurance and assistance globally.

Below are highlights from the interview conducted between David Evans and Insights Success:

Give us a brief overview of your company and its vision towards maintaining its lead in the market:

We are a global leader in customer benefits and loyalty and have spent the last 30 years enabling many of the world’s best-known brands to acquire, engage and retain the most profitable, but also most demanding customers. We have done this by offering a diverse set of travel, insurance and assistance products that differentiate our clients’ value propositions, and loyalty solutions to help them win deeper, more valuable customer relationships.

Our passion for putting our clients’ needs first, has helped us to grow our customer base over the years and we are now the chosen partner for the world’s leading payment networks, over 600 banks, 90 airlines, 20 hotel groups and top retail companies globally, generating over $1billion of revenue. Some of our clients include Air France KLM, American Express, Cathay Pacific, Chase, Hackett, Hilton, MasterCard, Radisson Hotel Group, RSA, Sephora, UnionPay, Vhi and Visa.

Whilst we operate across a number of sectors, geographies and different revenue models, we are driven by a simple philosophy: to deliver smarter customer experiences that say ’a brand knows me, cares about me and will go that extra mile’. We will maintain our lead by continuing to invest in our people and recruit talent that enables us to develop relevant, interesting products and services for our clients and their customers.

Our continued success also comes from harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit that has been at our heart since we were founded and learning from running successful brands in our own right. These include Priority Pass™, recognized today by consumers worldwide as the original, independent airport experiences program, as well as our loyalty business, which grew from the anticipation that companies would need to balance their focus on acquiring new customers, and understanding who they are so that they could better deliver against their needs.

How do you diversify your organization’s customer-centric approach in order to benefit your clientele?

We know that in today’s competitive business environment consumers expect to be treated as individuals and rewarded for their loyalty. As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations increase, the customer experience is and will continue to be, the key brand differentiator.

What gives Collinson the edge is our rich heritage, unique experience and cross-sector expertise gained over three decades working across the travel, commercial banking, retail, insurance and assistance sectors. Through directly servicing over 50 million of our own end customers – as well as the millions of our clients’ consumers – we have unique insight into the digitally-engaged mass affluent traveler and mid to high net worth consumer, conducting ongoing research with our clients and end consumers to understand their ever-changing needs, attitudes and behaviors.

We ensure that customer data sits at the heart of our approach as this provides the opportunity to deliver more meaningful, personalized interactions at every stage of the customer journey. Understanding factors like who the customer is, what their preferences are, and how their behavior can be influenced, are key to a customer-centric approach.

Everything that we do is about enabling our clients to deliver smarter and improved experiences to their customers, which differentiates them from their competitors and helps them win and keep their customers. We do this to help them deepen engagement with their customers through loyalty and reward solutions, to enriching their travel journey through the airport, or from insuring and protecting their interests when travelling, and providing medical and security assistance in their times of need.

Describe the lessons that have shaped the journey of your company.

Customer needs continually change – to stay relevant you need to really understand them in order to fulfill their needs.

Spot the opportunities – the idea for Priority Pass came about after my father was frequently traveling and unable to access the exclusive airline lounges that premium-class ticket holders could.

Embrace diversity as it’s the key to working globally – nobody thinks exactly the same, so working with a variety of people with differing ideas, perspectives and experiences drives creativity and performance. This is true for our clients and staff which are diverse and inspiring.

Put consumer insight at the heart – by understanding what motivates consumers, we can encourage long-term relationships based not on convenience or habit, but on emotional connection and with experiences that are too good to miss.

Retain entrepreneurial agility and thinking – despite our fast growth, we’ve been mindful to hang on to the agility and flexibility that comes with being a private company.

Technology powers so much of our best customer experiences – it’s not enough to understand customers’ wants, you need to deliver a consistent omni-channel experience across touch points in a way that works for customers. In 2019, this means smooth, seamless digital-first delivery.

Be a partner to your clients – we have some amazing long-standing relationships with our clients, which are as much about anticipating their needs and what they are looking to achieve.

Challenge yourself to keep listening, adapting and evolving – we’re continually looking to develop to ensure that we continue to meet the ever changing needs and expectations of tomorrow.

Loyalty must be a fundamental part of business strategy – it’s much more than just a points program, it’s the ability to understand and engage customers in a meaningful way.

How does your company contribute towards making the business better across the industry, and what are your personal inputs for the same?

Having previously been a collection of companies operating under a holding company structure, we recently took the exciting step of bringing the group of companies together as a single entity, Collinson. We did this to make it easier for our clients to access the full range of services and solutions we offer across our four divisions: loyalty, travel experiences, insurance and assistance.

This joined up approach leverages the best of our people, products, platforms and global relationships, making it much easier for clients to access the breadth of our experience to help solve their business challenges. This also benefits our technology partners and clients, as we all work towards the common goal of enhancing the customer experience.

Give a detailed explanation regarding your role, influence and your future visions towards the organization?

As Joint CEO of Collinson alongside my brother, I’m responsible for leading the regional execution of the company’s global strategy. This entails driving regional performance in line with local requirements, while remaining true to our entrepreneurial spirit and global vision.

I am also responsible for supporting the team across our people and culture function to ensure we support the needs of an ever mobile and diverse workforce.

Given the increasingly complex and competitive business landscape and disruptions by new business models and evolving technology, you have to make sure that you are a creative and solutions-led thinker, able to juggle multiple disciplines. At the same time, it is important to remain thoughtful and respectful for those helping you build and grow the company, because without the help of our talented staff, the business wouldn’t be what it is today.

Does Collinson envision any kind of mergers, acquisitions or expansion with regards to both personnel as well as business?

Collinson has innovated for over 30 years and seen phenomenal progress through a combination of strong organic growth, as well as strategic acquisition and reinvestment. Being privately owned gives us the stability and ability to make long-term decisions.

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 queue, while for airport food and beverage and retail providers it increases the potential customer base. This provides significant opportunity across our business and solutions, as well for our clients and the experience they can provide to their customers.

We also continue to develop existing and new strategic partnerships to further enhance what we offer to clients, 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 which combine proprietary technology and expertise and we continually utilize best in-class partners and consider potential acquisitions to achieve our vision of providing consumers with a smarter experience that enhances their lives.

We will continue to grow our own expertise with the development of products, services and solutions, cross-selling into new and existing clients and expanding into new geographies and increasing our global presence.

Considering the rising number of customer-driven strategies, how does Collinson focus on sustaining its competency? 

We pride ourselves on being a customer benefits and loyalty company like no other – global, privately-owned and family-run. Our company’s roots and understanding of the mass affluent traveler and mid to high net worth consumers allows us to adopt a strategic approach combining our years of customer motivation and loyalty expertise with proprietary tools to develop a custom-made customer engagement proposition for our clients.

We value our long-standing relationships. On the client side, we’re proud to have partnered with a number for over ten years, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Hilton, Cathay Pacific and Vhi. Furthermore, we look to leverage the global breadth of partnerships that Collinson has, both within airports and through our loyalty division.

We take a customer-first approach that’s underpinned by robust, data-driven commercial models. We understand the importance of data analytics and modeling to improve customer understanding and offer more tailored and personalized experiences, through our proven loyalty and customer benefit solutions.

We are extremely proud to have won many awards over the years. Most recently, we ranked tenth in Britain’s top-250 private mid-market growth companies in the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250. Furthermore, our Chairman and Founder, Colin Evans, was also named Loyalty Magazine’s Loyalty Personality of the Year award in 2017.

About the Company 

What gives Collinson the edge in serving consumers is its rich heritage, unique experience and cross-sector expertise gained over three decades working across the travel, commercial banking, retail, insurance and assistance sectors. Through directly servicing over 50 million of its own end customers as well as the millions of its clients’ consumers, Collinson has unique insight into digitally-engaged mass affluent travelers and mid to high net worth consumers, conducting on-going research with clients and end consumers, to understand their ever-changing needs, attitudes and behaviors.

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