There are some nice perks to being a regular shopper on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms.
The company last month rewarded some of its most loyal customers with a five-day trip to South Korea for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Forty so-called Super Members and their plus-ones enjoyed a vacation to the Games, and top-tier seats to four tournament events per person, all free of charge.
The Super Members, who are users with customer scores of 1,000 or higher, qualified for selection for the Games tour by collecting at least 68,888 in shopping points. The numbers 1, 6, 8 are seen as auspicious numbers in traditional Chinese culture, because when read out loud sounds like “prosperity all the way.”
WATCH: Alibaba brings its top shoppers to PyeongChang 2018.
“This trip to Korea has been unforgettable for me. [If it weren’t for the loyalty program], it would have been difficult to come to the Games,” said Zheng Pingping, who is both a Super Member and a merchant on Taobao, China’s leading online marketplace.
“I brought my son along with me. He is young, and this is a chance for him—and for me—to experience something people usually aren’t able to experience,” she said.
For the first three days of the trip, the group stayed at the seaside St. Johns Hotel, near the Olympic Park in Gangneung City, before flying to Seoul for a final day of sightseeing. The highlight of the trip was free tickets to watch competitions including figure skating, curling, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating. In between, they visited cultural heritage sites and sampled local delicacies such as Korean barbeque and Ginseng chicken soup.
“We want to provide an exclusive experience to our members, offering our most important users unique rewards that set them apart from the crowd, be it physical rewards or the chance to take part in inspiring offline activities,” said Wu Ting, membership operations expert and project lead for the Olympic Games trip.
“Alibaba becoming a TOP sponsor of the Olympic Games was a great opportunity to offer them a wonderful experience,” she said.
Last August, Alibaba merged its Tmall and Taobao loyalty platforms into a single membership club based not only on transaction volume but also the level of customer engagement across the company’s platforms, such as sharing reviews and interacting with other members. The new membership system helps Alibaba to better identify and market to its most-prolific shoppers, the company said.
“Taobao covers every aspect of my life,” said Alex Duan, who has been shopping on Taobao and Tmall for about nine years. “Every once in a while, I still go to [physical] supermarkets to buy food and drinks, the little things. But I don’t go that often.”
Compared to other loyalty programs, Alibaba’s membership club “gives members a more premium, exceptional feeling,” said Super Member Echo Cao. “I check in every once in a while for any new benefits. That’s how I came across the opportunity for this trip to the Winter Games.”
“I think the service that members enjoy is terrific,” she said. “Like the organizers for this trip, they are very thoughtful. [The experience] has been really good.”