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Kent State University to study benefits of bank travel programs

KENT, Ohio — Kent State University (KSU) has been commissioned to begin a first ever research program to assist banks and financial institutions in the evaluation of benefits received as a result of the operation of loyalty programs and travel clubs.

The independent research will be conducted by the Tannery, a wholly owned research arm of KSU that accepts a limited number of projects each year.

“We are honored to be selected by the Tannery as one of a handful of research projects accepted,” said Charlie Presley of BankTravel.

The project began in February with interviews of bank club directors to establish content and focus. KSU kicked off initial research at BankTravel 2012 in Memphis, Tenn., where they networked with 200 bank club directors as the point of initial research in order to establish personal one-on-one relationships.

The initial goals of the research will be to establish tangible benchmarks of the economic, marketing and social impacts that the operation of loyalty and travel programs have on banks.

These findings could include client retention, return on investment, lateral economic impact, depositor increases and community goodwill. KSU expects the direction that its research will take to be directly effected by this series of interviews and suggestions by bank club directors at BankTravel.

The research project was brought to Kent State University by BankTravel, an organization made up of independent banks that operate loyalty programs. BankTravel established a need for the research by providing KSU with data outlining the issues banks deal with in establishing and maintaining loyalty/travel clubs. The program was also made possible by funding provided by Norwegian Cruise Line.

“It is our belief that loyalty clubs create value for banks that include increased deposits, new clients, retained CDs and word-of-mouth marketing that travelers spread throughout the community,” said Presley. “Bank travel clubs are believed to be a key indicator of the boomer age segment move into the group travel market.

“Although interest in such research is there, the means to objectively collect it has been evasive.”

The purpose of the KSU research will be to deliver solid unbiased results that existing banks can use to place a known value on their loyalty clubs and for banks interested in organizing a loyalty/travel club to justify the effort.

The research is viewed as essential in the continued development of the group travel market as the boomer generation enters the field and the trend toward group travel is broaden to accept this influx.

The KSU white paper is targeted for completion by mid-summer. BankTravel will make complete results available free of charge to all interested banks, financial institutions and the travel industry.

Loyalty programs are a hot topic within the travel industry because of the frequent inclusion of travel as a membership benefit and the resulting volume of tours operated by banks and their travel clubs.

For further information or questions contact contact Presley at 800-628-0993 or cpresley@grouptravelfamily.com.

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