Incentive travel has grown exponentially over the last decade as companies strive to offer their consumers added value on purchases.
The aspiration of lying on sunny beaches, jetting of to far off climes or relaxing on an exotic cruise is now employed by marketing men to push even the most mundane of consumer goods.
CruiseMiles, the leading reward and incentive programme in the industry, is rapidly achieving one of its major goals.
Richard Lester, president CruiseMiles, stated that goal is to “make it so that the annual average online purchases of a typical household can result in the accrual of enough Cruise Miles (reward points) that they can book a cruise for free”.
CruiseMiles started as CruiseVoucher in 2007 and Lester envisaged a voucher incentive scheme that unlike numerous similar schemes had ‘No Tricks’ and ‘No Hidden costs’ thus Cruisevoucher was born.
Vouchers could be exchanged for a cruise for two with all taxes and port charges included, no booking fees and a great choice of cruises from big brands like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Celebrity.
In 2008 Cruisevoucher expanded, appointing international and regional offices operated by agents, so by 2009 Cruisevoucher had corporate and private members mostly in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
In Early 2010 Lester launched cruiseformiles.com, a similar system that changed from voucher to a reward points (“Miles”) system.
By early January 2011 Richard successfully acquired the rewards sites cruisemiles.com and cruise4miles.com from seamiles and United Airlines.
A full software rewrite then saw all of these sites merged and launched into what is now Cruisemiles.com.
Since then membership numbers have grown rapidly as consumers discover this unique incentive and rewards program.
What is on offer?
The concept is simple enough.
Consumers earn rewards from online purchases made through the retailers’ links shown on the CruiseMiles website.
Members log in to CruiseMiles and then go to the CruiseMiles Rewards site to make their online purchases.
Each time they do they are rewarded with Miles in their account.
Each retailer’s link shows how many Miles can be earned for each unit of currency expended (for example, ten miles for each dollar spent).
CruiseMiles Members have the option to purchase or bid for top-up packages of miles directly from CruiseMiles site.
CruiseMiles typically offers a sign up bonus for new members, sometimes as high as 50,000 Miles.
Given that CruiseMiles offers cruises for as low as 20,000 Miles during weekend 20,000 giveaways and that standard offer start at little more, a new member might be able to grab one of these amazing deals immediately and get a free cruise just by becoming a CruiseMiles member.
This unusual incentive and rewards program is attracting more and more offline as well as online retailers.
Current big names that miles can be earned at include Amazon, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Priceline and Hotels.com.
A whole new Earn Rewards module is set to launch by the end of 2012 which will lead to hundreds of new partnerships and thus opportunities to earn Miles.
Lester also notes that soon CruiseMiles members will be able to apply for a CrusieMiles credit card that will allow them to earn Miles with their credit card purchases, on or offline.
While CruiseMiles does not make all cruises of all cruise lines available to their members, there is still a tremendous number of diverse cruises offered all over the world.
CruiesMiles makes these cruises available both in their Offers area (fixed price in Miles) and in their Auction area (bids in Miles).
This provides members with even more opportunities to get exactly the cruise they want.
CruiseMiles continues along the original cruisevoucher philosophy that all of the cruises they offer are for two people and always include all port and governmental fees.
This inclusive approach to their cruise offerings seems to result in a very dedicated membership, many of whom book several cruises each year.
In 2012 Cruisemiles now has over 80,000 members and August saw the successful acquisition of cruisemiles.co.uk after fighting off some big name UK operators wanting to get a piece of what has become the cruisemiles phenomenon.
Also the CruiseSmiles brand was launched and trademarked meaning people can legally only get a cruise Smile with Cruisemiles.com!
Among the thousands of cruises taken in 2012, Cruisemiles also launched the hugely successful cruisemiles parties.
These partial ship charters see hundreds of cruisemiles members coming together and enjoying open bar parties and complimentary premium restaurants as well as a great cruise and the chance to meet and dine with the group’s president, chief executive and agents.
According to Lester, the future of cruisemiles sees as no bounds.
Jewellers in Caribbean Islands have come onboard when the cruise ship has docked meaning that buying that special piece of jewellery could lead from a free cruise to partnerships with worldwide restaurant names.
Discussions are already taking place with fuel companies worldwide to make free cruising available to everyone by virtue of filling the family car with fuel.
CruiseMiles is presently nominated as the World’s Leading Travel Rewards Programme at the World Travel Awards.
Click here to vote.