Avis drives customer loyalty with Foursquare and Facebook Places

Topguest to reward users' check-ins
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor

Topguest to reward users' check-ins

Car rental company Avis is stepping up its social media efforts by adding a loyalty scheme for customers who check in to Avis depots using the Facebook Places and Foursquare geolocation technology.

Avis has started to work with Topguest, which is a service that rewards users when they check in to locations of partner organisations using Facebook Places or Foursquare. Users create a Topguest account and link it to their Facebook Places and Foursquare accounts. When they check in at Avis locations they then receive a discount voucher code via the Topguest service.

"The benefit of using Topguest as a launch partner into this area is that we can use them to hit the two different systems - Facebook Places and Foursquare - rather than having to operate two separate geo check-in systems. So it helps me to simplify it [and] it takes away the some of the resource that I need to manage it," Avis UK marketing and communications manager Darren Peacock told silicon.com

Avis has been using various social networking technologies for a number of years, starting with the wetryharder.co.uk blog, launched more than four years ago.

The blog is used as a place for customers and Avis staff to discuss issues - both good and bad - that have come up when people have rented vehicles.

Peacock told silicon.com that the blog acts as the "hub" of social technology strategy for Avis with other areas, such as Twitter, Facebook and now Topguest, acting as "spokes".

The Avis Twitter feed has 2,000 followers<em>
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After creating a Twitter feed, Avis is expanding its social media presence to include Topguest location-based loyalty technology
(Screenshot: Avis)

The company added a Twitter feed 18 months ago which acts as a bulletin board and a way of publicising offers and blog posts. The Twitter feed now has about 2,000 followers.

"[The Twitter feed] was quite tactical, allowing us to get special offers out but at the same time it was also an entry into the blog so we were teasing people with latest topics and points of conversations to bring them into the blog," Peacock said.

Avis added a Facebook page in August this year, which currently has more than 400 fans. Called Living for the Weekend, the page is focused on boosting weekend car rentals. Among the features on the Facebook page are links to a five per cent discount for car rentals.

About six per cent of fans regularly interact on the site according to Peacock. "We wanted to create a forum that's going to allow our followers and fans to start sharing their own ideas and their own inspiration," he said.

Avis recently added Topguest to its social media strategy, with the aim of boosting customer loyalty through a six-month exclusive deal.

The company already had an iPhone booking app but the ability of Topguest to show the extent to which existing customers are using social media mobile sites was key, according to Peacock.

With Topguest, Avis is also aiming to reach out to a new audience by attracting customers who use mobile check-in tools but currently use other rental companies.

The other big attraction for Avis was the ability to reward customers for loyalty: "It's allowing us to recognise loyalty for that customer who's checked in to our location while driving incremental bookings in the future."

Avis customers using Topguest currently receive a 10 per cent discount on their next vehicle rental but Peacock said the reward scheme will be expanded to more sophisticated offers early next year.

"I want to move away from doing discounts because I think discounts don't necessarily build loyalty with a customer, they just make a customer think of price point. So what I'd ideally want to do is to be able to move it into different levels of reward," he said.

Other potential incentives include discounts on additional items - such as sat-nav units - car upgrades on the day of rental or free additional drivers.

If all goes well, Peacock said Avis will be able to create special offers tailored to particular rental locations: "If this does really take off after a six month period we could go to some of our larger stations and ask them if they want to upload special offers based on how their business is performing."

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