Advantex goes global

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country's borders....

Riding a hot streak on the stock market, Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International is planning to expand its online loyalty marketing business outside this country’s borders.

"We want to take advantage of the business model we have in Canada," says Randall Munger, chairman and CEO of Advantex. "Interest in online loyalty is growing internationally at a rapid rate and we want to make sure we are in on the ground floor. We don’t want to be getting into it 18 months from now, or it will be too late.

"You know what they say: If you snooze, you lose."

Advantex, shares of which have fluctuated between 15 cents and $4.90 on the Toronto Stock Exchange during the past year – peaking a couple of months ago – has been putting a management team in place to helm the expansion. Greg O’Hara, most recently senior vice-president of Sabre, one of the world’s largest travel reservation and ticketing systems, just joined the company to spearhead the initiative. O’Hara will be responsible for securing strategic partnerships with major airlines around the world.

Munger notes that global expansion makes sense because airlines around the world are trying to incorporate online shopping into their existing loyalty program structure. Last year, for instance, Advantex announced an Internet shopping portal called e-Vantex that will link CIBC Aerogold Visa cardholders to major electronic commerce retailers. It is scheduled to launch later this spring. Cardholders will be able to earn double Aeroplan Miles on all purchases at participating e-commerce retailers, by linking to them through the portal and paying with their CIBC Aerogold Visa card.

"We’ve already got the necessary competencies and technology infrastructure to export our online affinity business model worldwide," Munger says.

The beauty of the online affinity model, he says, is that it enables clients to blend transactional and Web-based data for both online and offline customers.

"It will allow us to close the loop between (them)," Munger says. "As people register for our online shopping services, we will also have the offline information from their credit card usage. This will allow us to do e-mail marketing as well."

Anticipated developments in wireless technology will further enhance that capacity, he adds.

"Everyone is aware of the opportunities the Internet and e-commerce provides target marketers," he says. "It’s a marketer’s dream. It makes ‘snail mail’ look like the Dark Ages."

Although Munger won’t tip his hand, he does suggest he’s got some imminent strategic partnerships up his sleeve. He says there have been discussions with more than half a dozen air carriers, most of the meetings set up by O’Hara.

"He’s responsible for the outsourcing deals and he’s very connected. He gets in front of the right people."

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