If It’s Not Working, Don’t Keep Doing It

Parenthetically to yesterday’s post, there was another, less effective marketing technique used by the Anchor Inn’s bar manager.  He would give “Anchor Bucks” to the top finishers of the NTN trivia games.  Anchor Bucks were coupons that were worth a dollar each and could be spent in the Anchor Inn’s lounge, restaurant and sushi bar.  I think the prizes were 4 bucks for first place and 2 for second.

The trouble was, I am pretty good at trivia, and I was in the bar for its prime hours (8:00 – 10:00) every single weeknight.  The only other person who stood a chance of winning was actually the bartender.  So the only two people who ever won any Anchor Bucks were me and the bartender who couldn’t accept them.

There’s nothing wrong with a loyalty program; as a matter of fact I think it’s a pretty good idea.  Anchor Bucks in particular were not spendable on the date they were issued, so they required the patron to return at another time to redeem them.  That’s clever, because people don’t usually go to bars alone, so even if they have enough Anchor Bucks to buy all their own drinks (highly improbable), they will be bringing their friends’ money in too.  It was also clever to tie the awarding of the bucks to an activity that tends to keep people in the bar (the trivia game).

But the loyalty benefits don’t work if nobody gets to use them.  The promise  of an Anchor Buck if you win the trivia round is nearly worthless – the actual possession  of a Buck by a customer is what gives it value as a loyalty driver.  And to make things worse, I would have been there every night with or without the incentive.  I lived in the hotel.  Once they saw that all Anchor Bucks were going to me, they should have ended or altered the program.

(BTW, I saved my bucks until I had about 500 and treated my boss and myself to a fine meal and night at the bar.  That night, over half of the hotel’s total hospitality take was worthless paper…)


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