11 Holiday Rewards Program Ideas to Help You Make the Most of the Peak Season

Holiday rewards programs will play an important role in 2020 and 2021. Here are the best practices for combining the holiday spirit and customer loyalty.

The cover image of Antavo's holiday rewards program article.

It might seem early to be thinking about implementing a holiday rewards program already, but whether you manage a brick-and-mortar or an online store, the holiday season is a great opportunity to connect with your customers and drive more revenue. This time of the year, in particular, customers expect to be treated with outstanding personalized experiences, as well as tantalizing rewards and offers. So unleash your creativity and think of memorable benefits and giveaways for your customer.

Launch a Rewards Program Before the Holidays

The end of the year is one of the best times to introduce or revamp your loyalty program. Research shows that customers spent more than $204 billion online during the 2021 holiday season — that’s an 8.6% increase over the same time period in 2020. That’s why you need to go into the holidays prepared — and now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to leverage the holiday fever.

Promoting a holiday rewards program is a great way to give your holiday marketing a little boost, encourage new registrations, as well as capture customer’s attention with exciting, limited-time rewards, services, and savings opportunities, which will help you increase holiday sales and collect customer data.

11 Holiday Rewards Program Ideas That Spread Joy

Rewarding customers during the holiday season is a delicate balancing act. Though generous discounts, coupons, and other financial incentives are expected, they won’t necessarily make customers stick around, because the competition can easily outbid you. As such, holiday rewards programs need other, more memorable and attention-grabbing benefits or features to entice the holiday crowd.

To help you come up with a unique, holiday-themed concept, we have gathered 11 best practices for creating a dashing holiday rewards program.

1. Free Shipping During the Holidays

Offering free shipping as a reward during the height of the holiday shopping period is a great way to motivate customers to enroll in your loyalty program. Customers usually get excited when they can save money during the most expensive months of the year. For most, free delivery during the holiday season is more valuable than any coupon. And, as mentioned, getting free shipping may encourage more customers to join the program and stick around for the rest of the year.

DSW created a holiday campaign offering free shipping to non-members.
DSW created a holiday campaign offering free shipping to non-members as well. The idea was to encourage customers who enjoy free shipping to join the program and have access to the benefit year-round.

2. An Unforgettable Experience for the Holiday Season

Today’s customers are more interested in memorable experiences than material ownership. Experiences are personal and unrepeatable. Invite your top-tier members for an exclusive Christmas dinner or organize a holiday fashion show for your VIP club. Partaking in such an outstanding experience generates brand love that can last for years, subsequently leading to a higher lifetime value among loyalty members.

Harvey Nichols’ experiential reward campaigns during the holiday season.
Harvey Nichols runs all sorts of experiential reward campaigns during the holiday season. One time they prepared an enchanting holiday getaway on the fifth floor of its Knightsbridge store.

3. Surprise Rewards Program Members With a Mystery Gift

Create an advent reward calendar for your loyalty program members. Adults will finally have something to be eager about, too. Reward calendars are a series of loyalty program benefits that are introduced each day. Each reward is only valid for one day. Not all benefits need to have monetary value, though: you can reward content, videos, and visuals as well. What makes this holiday rewards program campaign truly genuine is that it focuses on the

JD-Williams rewards program
In their holiday campaign, JD Williams created a rewards carousel where they shared a variety of product samples from partners, plus beauty tips and coupons during the 12 days of Christmas. This makes customers invested in the campaign, as they will return day after day to see what kind of surprises await them.

4. Sprinkle on Some Gamification

Nothing sparks interest easier than gamification. Gamified holiday loyalty campaigns are a must-have. They are great differentiators, and creating a game that’s tied to your brand image isn’t difficult, either. Winners share their experiences on social media, creating great word-of-mouth advertising, plus giving out loyalty points increases the odds of customers making a purchase before the holidays. You can also engage with your loyalty program members by creating a personality quiz to help them select the right gift for their loved ones.

LVR’s limited-time holiday campaign.
LuisaViaRoma managed to impress members of their LVR Privilege program with a limited-time holiday campaign, called the Magic Ball. Each week during the Christmas holidays, customers received two attempts to ask the Magic Ball for a reward. If they had Lady Luck on their side, a loyalty point bonus was added to their balance.

5. Bidding for Holiday Deals

The holidays aren’t just about presents. Most people celebrate the season by resting, relaxing, or celebrating with friends. Always reserve some holiday-themed products, events or services for your loyalty program. People love seasonal rewards and are willing to increase their spend to earn more points, which can later be used toward their dream rewards.

In Marriott’s Bonvoy program, customers earn points for staying at hotels.
In Marriott’s Bonvoy program, customers earn points for staying in Mariott hotels. They can use their points to bid on live events, auction-house style. Naturally, the list of available packages in the loyalty program reflects the season, with various “Moments” offering events for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

6. Reward Non-Transactional Customer Activities

By rewarding a greater range of non-purchase activities in your loyalty program, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and foster more positive feelings towards your brand. For example, in the athletic supplies or sports apparel industries, you can reward customers for participating in athletic competitions. For example, you might host a holiday running event. These unique experiences can come in handy, especially during peak seasons, when most brands are bombarding people with the same, familiar discounts.

Bergzeit’s loyalty program.
Fit into your customers’ everyday lives by rewarding them for the things they already love to do, like Bergzeit’s loyalty program does. This is also a great way to obtain more data on your customers and more ways to send personalized messages to them.

7. Don’t Forget Lifestyle Incentives

Spread happiness and cheer this holiday season through an act of kindness. If there is any special cause that you wish to promote, include it in your holiday rewards program and bolster your positive brand image. For instance, allow customers to donate their loyalty points to a charitable cause. The holiday season is also an emotional time for your customers, so it’s a great opportunity to connect with them on an emotional level and demonstrate social responsibility.

The Body Shop’s loyalty program.
The best part of The Body Shop‘s lifestyle loyalty program is that members can use their points to treat themselves to their favorite products or donate to a charity of their choosing.

8. Aim for Exclusivity With Early Access

Early access is simple yet effective. Giving high-tier members or your most loyal customers the opportunity to purchase products before anyone else costs nothing. Yet it is a genuinely satisfying perk for members, especially in the holiday rush. Your rewards program members will appreciate not having to stand in long lines or worry about missing out on desired products. Having early access is also seen by many as a status symbol. Those who want this privilege will increase their spend to get the benefit for themselves. There’s a minimal cost implication for your brand, but customers attach a huge perceived value to such gestures.

Offering customers VIP holiday early access shopping.
Make your customers’ lives easier by making it easier to get their holiday shopping done before the rush. Meanwhile, create a fantastic feeling of exclusivity as customers know they’ll be the first to learn about your holiday offers.

9. Channel the Spirit of the Season With a Loyalty App

Encourage members to download your application by rewarding them with bonus points or a small discount. Once they have the app installed, give members a preview of your upcoming holiday deals through your app. Offer mobile-only deals that are not available on your website and customized incentives through push notifications. This strategy will increase traffic to your mobile app and boost user engagement.

 Keep your customers informed about upcoming holiday deals using push notifications.
Push notifications are a great way to inform your clients about new offers and deals and drive traffic to your store, website and app. Choose a platform that will help you segment and customize the push notifications sent to your customers.

10. Add a Magical Touch to Your Communication

Personalization plays a vital role in differentiating your brand. Add some holiday flair to the design of your content, such as headlines and greetings, to be more seasonal. Create unique holiday emails for your members, making sincerity a starting point. You will not only provide customers with generous holiday offers but also share the good spirit and positive vibes.

Kate Spade holiday greetings email
Kate Spade wishes its customers happy holidays and provides stressed-out subscribers a variety of options to buy last-minute presents.

11. Refurbishing the In-Store Experience

Invite your rewards program members to an in-store holiday raffle, free refreshments, or a DIY gift-making workshop. Create a special corner for members’ kids to have some fun in while parents shop stress-free. These initiatives can help you increase store footfall and might as well ensure repeat purchase. It will also make your shoppers feel special and appreciated for being loyal customers.

TJ Maxx’s rewards program.
TJ Maxx offered free gift wrap to customers to significantly increase enrollment into its loyalty program. This type of reward helps make customers’ lives easier during the holiday rush.

Put a Smile on Customers’ Faces

The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for brands and retailers alike, so make sure you’re well prepared. Catching people’s attention during an intensive holiday period is a challenging task. You should push your creativity to the limit and come up with emotional, relevant ideas to endear your savvy customers.

Also, because implementing a loyalty program can take quite some time, you should plan ahead and prepare something new and unique solely for the holiday season. A holiday rewards program brings outstanding discounts and gifts to customers and, at the same time, rewards your efforts with significant revenue and increased brand love.

If you already have a holiday plan in mind, don’t hesitate to book a demo or send us an RFP, because we have some amazing solutions to show you.

A banner recommending to download Antavo’s ‘The Ultimate Guide to Loyalty Program Rewards’ ebook.
Headshot of Barbara Kekes-Szabo Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo

Barbara Kekes-Szabo

Barbara is a Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP. She is also a writing expert with several years of experience in marketing and also in the information technology industry. In her free time she likes traveling the world, reading crime stories, and doing crossword puzzles.

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