Partners hope loyalty program will fly

Two Canadian travel firms have banded together to launch a loyalty program for independent hotels and car rental companies that features the semi-defunct Canadian Airlines International as a core partner. On March 1, Vancouver-based Executive Inn Group, which operates 17 hotels...

Two Canadian travel firms have banded together to launch a loyalty program for independent hotels and car rental companies that features the semi-defunct Canadian Airlines International as a core partner.

On March 1, Vancouver-based Executive Inn Group, which operates 17 hotels in Western Canada and Washington, announced that it, together with VIP International, a Calgary-based firm that operates a worldwide travel reservation system representing more than 3,400 independent hotel and car rental properties, had formalized a marketing agreement with Canadian Airlines and its U.S. counterpart, American Airlines. The deal sets the foundation for a new loyalty program that the partners say will allow the independent hotels and car rental companies served by the VIP reservation system to compete against well-known multinational chains. But first, Executive Inn has to sell them on the idea.

‘All these VIP hotels and car rentals are independent, so they’re all in need of a loyalty program to compete with major chains like Avis or Hilton,’ says Salim Sayani, president of Executive Inn. ‘I think they’ll be very keen to utilize a loyalty program that’s fully automated, has reward partners and is all set up.’

The new loyalty program, called Executive Rewards Club, operates with an Interac-style swipe card that allows members to make purchases in a matter of seconds using accumulated points. Rewards earned at participating properties are redeemable for free car rentals or hotel stays, or can be converted to frequent flyer points under programs maintained by the two airlines.

Because it’s connected to a central databank, the Executive Rewards program also facilitates extensive data mining. Sayani says he expects to have at least half the VIP properties signed up within the next two or three years, creating a potential customer base that numbers in the millions.

Participants are provided with six monthly reports: Program summary, Top 100 customers, monetary value, recency, customer frequency, and demographics. Program summary detail and transaction summary reports are available on request.

Four weeks of beta testing at Executive Inn’s 17 hotels had about 150 customers signing up per day (about 4,500 altogether), and an online registration system is accelerating the pace.

‘This is typically our slower season,’ says Sayani. ‘Come summer we think we’ll be doing a few more than that.’

Despite the uncertain future of Canadian Airlines, Sayani says he isn’t concerned about the integrity of the program’s points. He says he has been assured by Canadian Airlines that Air Canada would honour the points. He admits, however, that he has no written commitment from Air Canada to that effect.

Sayani says Canadian Airlines was selected for the program because it uses Executive Inn’s hotels for its flight staff, and so was a natural choice. At the time the program was being developed, American Airlines owned 25% of Canadian, and the latter encouraged Executive Inns to negotiate a deal with its international partner.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.