GEMS Education emerged triumphant at the prestigious ‘Loyalty Magazine Awards 2019’ for its GEMS Rewards loyalty programme, and was named the ‘Regional Loyalty Champion of the Year’ for Middle East and Africa.
Elmarie Venter, Chief Enrolment, Marketing, Communications and Corporate Relations at GEMS Education and Sugam Bhasin, Vice President – Marketing at GEMS Education were the company representatives at the Loyalty Magazine Awards 2019, held amid the auspicious surroundings of the Pavilion in the Tower of London, UK. They didn’t leave empty handed, either, collecting the award for Regional Loyalty Champion of the Year.
We spoke to Sugam to find out more about the programme and what set it apart from the competition at the gala event in London.
Can you describe GEMS Rewards in a nutshell?
GEMS Rewards is our way of giving back to our community – our parents, our staff, and our students. The vision that led to the creation of GEMS Rewards was to make quality education more accessible and everything we do as part of the programme drives toward that vision.
What are the different components of the programme?
Firstly, we have a co-branded credit card which allows our parents to save up to 4.25 per cent of their annual tuition fees while also converting their payments into 12 zero interest monthly installments. We also have the parent ambassador programme. Through this programme parents have an incentive to recommend a GEMS school that they know and love to friends and family and from each successful enrolment they receive 4 per cent of the enrolled child’s first year tuition fee in GEMS points. (GEMS points are the currency of the programme and a key metric in how our parents save.) Parents can earn GEMS points through usage of various aspects of the programme but we are also working towards a scenario where they have the ability to convert points from other rewards programmes into GEMS points.
The GEMS Rewards app is another key feature. The app has over 800 offers across categories such as F&B, fitness, retail and leisure and travel. We have over 400 offers which are exclusive to GEMS Rewards members, not available on any other platform. These offers range from the classic buy one get one free, a percentage discount off the total bill, as well as merchants who offer GEMS Points on purchases.
Finally, on a monthly basis our members receive exclusive limited period offers via email which could range from invitations to events and sales in the city, through to cash or credit into their accounts at various e-commerce sites and destinations such as noon.com and Tajawal.
What are some of the key milestones reached since 2017?
The programme was launched back in October 2017 with the GEMS Rewards mobile app, and we then started incorporating various other features like the Ambassador Programme, co-branded credit card and exclusive offers to create an ideal ecosystem to support the programme’s vision. In the two years of its existence the programme has had a number of noteworthy achievements, most notable is the fact that our members saved over AED 35 million across various aspects of the programme. Over the past year, the programme has really come to life and evolved. As a point of comparison, in the last year the app allowed our members to save about AED 4 million and this year we will likely close the financial year on savings of more than AED 8 million.
In terms of some other key parameters the number of people using the programme has risen significantly. We have close to half our members now using the programme with the number of repeat users also rising significantly. We consider 66 per cent of our members to be regularly active on the programme and that is a key measure of success. Going back to the original vision of why the programme was created, if this is a mechanic to help our families save, then utilisation is a good measure of savings.
What set GEMS Rewards apart from the competition?
GEMS Rewards is the only programme regionally, if not globally, in the education industry to offer a rewards and loyalty programme for its parents. We are uniquely capable of delivering such a programme because of our size and scale. It also comes down to the vision of putting our students front and centre of everything we do and focusing on creating a value proposition for them which augments the already excellent education that we provide for them.
The programme is about giving people more reasons to choose GEMS and reducing the barriers to making the selection of the school that might be perfect for your child. I think these points were recognised by the judges.
How did it feel to collect the award?
It certainly felt like a validation or acknowledgement of some of the work that has gone into building the programme. I would also say it was humbling to be nominated in a group of very prominent peers, not only in our category but across the categories in general.
What does this award mean for GEMS?
This award is validation of the programme’s vision and purpose; its reason for being. It is a really nice acknowledgement of where the programme has come in the short time it has been in existence. The programme needs to continue to evolve and deliver to the expectations of our parents and staff. So we are certainly not resting on our laurels, there is a lot more to come from GEMS Rewards. There are a million ways we can improve the programme and we are going to go after every one of those million ways.
So what is next for GEMS Rewards?
The GEMS Rewards points ecosystem is going to be a key area of development. We want to acquire more partners to give our members the ability to convert points from a variety of different programmes into GEMS points which they can then use to pay school fees. We want to continue to evolve our offers. Every three months we curate our offers based on members’ behaviours, this will assist in personalising and making the programme more relevant, which is going to be key to its future success.
Some of the exciting things possibly coming up in year three include a
much more robust and enhanced travel offer along with technology which will make segmentation and personalisation more seamless.
What advice would you give our new teachers who will be first time users of GEMS Rewards?
GEMS Rewards effectively puts your ability to save in your pocket. That journey starts by you downloading, activating and exploring the app. With over 800 offers it can perhaps seem a bit overwhelming and I advise you to start by thinking of some of your favourite brands and searching for them in the app. Once you get used to using the app you can then sort and filter options, and even search offers based on distance from your current location.
How to activate the GEMS Rewards App
Step 1: New employees will receive an email with details on how to download and activate the GEMS Rewards app.
Step 2: Download the GEMS Rewards app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Step 3: Click on register and complete the process. Fill out the fields required and make sure you use the correct user name/ e-mail combination as per the invitation e-mail. For employees your user name is your employee number.
Step 4: Enter your birthday, country of residence and gender.
Step 5: Click confirm and you are ready to go!