Travel Reward Alternatives: Points-Based Shopping Experiences

by | May 4, 2022 | Blog

In a recent article, we talked about 3 Alternatives to Travel Rewards. We spoke on the importance of maintaining a level of engagement and experience with your audience, offering up some brief descriptions of what those alternatives to a travel reward might look like.

But how do they play out when you get down to brass tacks? We’ve written a bit about virtual gamification like Spin to Win. And we’ve also addressed some non-traditional engagement strategies that could help alongside a branded rain-check box. The points-based shopping experience, however, is something that’s also worth a deeper dive.

Your New Digital Reward Experience

First, the really engaging part. While maintaining your trip’s brand or adapting the brand to the new environment, make sure to really market the new portal for points-based shopping to your audience. The choice is yours on when to set it live and for how long.

Redeeming should also be easy and simple. One way to do this is by dispensing the same amount of points to every individual you plan to invite to the portal. These points can be used to purchase the prizes they want. That way, you can maintain the sense of experience with a specialized event. You provide them with something tangible that they can feel proud of and still holds comparable value for those who deserve the recognition.

The Logistics

As I mentioned in our past article on travel reward alternatives, the points-based shopping experience consists of an online portal used to reward your audiences in a way that doesn’t compromise health and accessibility. This portal can be set up with an incentive vendor or with a catalogue vendor that has some substantial capabilities. Depending on your audience and its size, you’ll want to include a fair amount of merchandise for them to redeem for.

You’ll also want onboarding and portal access to be as seamless as possible. Make sure that you’re not creating a barrier to entry for rewards. Theoretically, they’ve already earned the prize, but making it easy for them to redeem is paramount.

Now for the finances…

If you were able to postpone your trip, I’d actually recommend maintaining that course, as cancelling can come with an assortment of fees from your third-party vendor, hotels, airlines, etc.

Instead, use some out-of-the-box methods of engagement to keep an avenue of communication open with your trip-earners. When appropriate, use these same methods to start building excitement for the new trip dates.

One way to increase excitement for alternative experiences is surprise-and-delight boxes. These boxes, mailed to each person you want to invite to the shopping experience, can include some teaser items of what’s in the catalogue.

For instance, if you were supposed to go to Italy this year, maybe your catalogue has some Italian-themed items to offer: high-end olive oil, wine, cheeses, etc. Include some of these items along with an invitation to the platform to redeem for more.

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On the other hand, if you’ve had to cancel your trip and been able to recoup your deposits without a financial penalty, you will likely want to invest a similar amount into the shopping experience as the per-head cost of the travel reward, or as close to it as possible. Remember that these trip-earners did a lot to earn their trip, and they except their reward to be a reflection of these efforts.

While you may not be able to match that exact value with this shopping experience, it’s more about the perceived value and the recognition that you can give them. Think of it as a “thank you” in uncertain times for reaching their program goal or objective.

Same goes for the surprise and delight boxes here, which could act as the first step to getting these folks to their shopping experience.


Points-based shopping experiences are just one of several ways you can adapt your reward offering while looking for an alternative to a travel reward. Take a look at some of our other articles for more ideas:

3 Alternatives to Travel Rewards

3 Non-Traditional Ways to Keep Your Participants Engaged

3 Reasons Gamification Incentives Are Here to Stay

Look Beyond Sales to Maintain Engagement with Your Program

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

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