In national forest around the country a fantastic, growing movement has been happening. Vacationing families and individuals actually leave the confines of luxury resorts to transverse rugged terrain to participate in reforestation efforts.
Joining teams of environmentalist, they dig, pick ax and get filthy dirty to plant trees and build trails. The thing that is amazing about this is, even with all the hard work, they love doing it. A brief time spent experiencing nature first-hand, while improving the ecosystem, has made a world of difference. This is a new definition of loyalty vacation programs. Before marketing re-defined the term to associate loyalty as being faithful to a brand or frequency program, the deeper meaning of loyalty is to be faithful to an ideal. Consider that the commitment to building a better world may be an ideal worth our effort.
The Evolution of Ethical Loyalty
Combining the concept of being committed to an ideal, with the marketing loyalty definition of commitment to purchase, is actually being done by some forward thinking organizations. PRODUCT RED is a brand that has been licensed to partner companies such as Apple, Starbucks, Hallmark and others to raise awareness and funds to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. By purchasing a red iPod from Apple, I was involved in raising $150 million dollars for this cause. In a small way, by participating in this form of ethical consumerism, I helped to build a better world.
What’s In It for Us
Loyalty programs give corporations permission to track our purchases and preferences. Usually around the holidays we are beseeched with request to donate miles and points to worthy causes. This is a great step in the right direction, yet it is not part of our loyalty program culture. The reality is that we have grown to expect something in return for our loyalty. The old “what’s in it for me” narrative is part our loyalty program conditioning. As the world progresses, we have the ability to incorporate ethical consumerism into the travel experience. Loyalty vacation programs can combine the desire to visit exotic and interesting places, with the opportunity to give back to humanity. Imagine a world where a family is focused on earning points towards a vacation in a national forest, while looking forward to donating family time to aid in reforestation.
Points for a Greater Purpose
Volunteer tourism has existed for decades, and there is a fine line between corporations creating programs that support the local environment or culture, and disrupting it all for profit. Loyalty programs have become a profit center for corporations. If done right point-earning members and loyalty program management can devise worthwhile loyalty vacation programs that transforms our devotion to earning points for personal gain, to include a commitment to achieve a greater purpose.
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