Kimpton's loyalty program has a supplemental credit system, ‘karma credits’, that remains unknown to the guest; the arithmetic is invisible. Thus, customers don’t view the system as transactional. Instead, customers who build up such credits are termed ‘friends of the brand’, rather than the more arithmetically based ‘frequent flyers’. The system is designed explicitly around ‘delight and surprise’. Customers who earn hidden credits gain extra attention, which frontline employees can then tap into as part of any one-on-one interaction; rewards are cashed by hotel check-in personnel, for example, to make the experience better. Rather than explicitly or mathematically quid-pro-quo, the benefits are handed out ‘for free’. And, the cycle becomes virtuous, as the customer offers positive reviews or endorsements or social media shares, which may also drive more invisible points. The ‘Friends of the Brand’ programme replaces entitlement with surprise and delight. Get the full story at EyeForTravel