专利汇可以提供SYSTEM FOR MANAGING LOYALTY PROGRAM PARTNERS专利检索，专利查询，专利分析的服务。并且Some embodiments include a computer-implemented method for disseminating a business lead to a partner of a loyalty program. In some embodiments, the method includes completing a sales transaction with a customer over a telecommunications network, where the customer is a member of the loyalty program. The method can also include depositing, via an electronic transmission, a first quantity of loyalty currency in an electronic account associated with the customer, wherein the deposit is given to the customer for completion of the sales transaction, wherein the loyalty currency is issued by the loyalty program. The method can also include transmitting an electronic notification to the partner, wherein the notification includes information about services purchased via the sales transaction and contact information associated with the customer.，下面是SYSTEM FOR MANAGING LOYALTY PROGRAM PARTNERS专利的具体信息内容。
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever. Copyright 2011, Mileage Plus Holdings, LLC.
Embodiments of the inventive subject matter relate generally to the field of data processing, and more particularly to the field of processing business transaction information.
Many airlines have loyalty programs. Such loyalty programs typically award loyalty program members with frequent-flier miles (also referred to as “miles”, “points”, etc.) when members purchase airline tickets, and other goods and services. Members can redeem the frequent-flier miles for additional airline tickets, rental cars, hotel stays, and more. Thus, frequent-flier miles are like “credits” for use in purchasing airline tickets, and other goods and services. Typically, frequent-flier miles are only redeemable at one airline (i.e., the airline that awarded the miles). As members accrue and redeem miles with a particular airline, the members typically develop loyalty to that airline. As a result, airline loyalty programs are constantly looking for new and creative ways to award and redeem frequent-flier miles.
The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the Figures of the accompanying drawings in which:
Loyalty programs may award loyalty currency when customers purchase airline tickets, make purchases on credit cards associated with the loyalty program, purchase rental cars though loyalty program promotions, purchase hotel stays through loyalty program promotions, etc. Customers may redeem the accrued miles for travel items and/or merchandise. Typically, there is a limited universe of suppliers that a loyalty program will allow for redemption of travel items. This universe usually includes the loyalty program's supplier (e.g., an airline) and any partner suppliers. Some customers may find the loyalty program's redemption options to be limiting or otherwise not attuned to their specific desired itinerary.
After customers redeem loyalty currency for airline tickets, the airline issues reservations and the loyalty program typically ceases to service the customers for other pre-travel needs, other than minor changes to reservation (e.g., departure times and/or dates, etc.). Hence, for additional travel services, customers typically find travel goods and services on their own, outside the loyalty system. Some customers would appreciate targeted travel offers that enable them to redeem or accrue miles, and to book necessary travel services. To fill such a need, some embodiments of the inventive subject matter facilitate targeted travel offers, and loyalty mile redemption and accrual opportunities. More specifically, in some embodiments, after a customer books an airline ticket, the airline's loyalty system notifies a service partner about the customer's travel booking. In turn, the service partner contacts the customer with service offers that coincide with the customer's travel itinerary, and that include redemption/accrual opportunities. For example, a rental car company may contact the customer, offering a rental car for certain travel days. The offer may also award miles for every dollar spent with the rental car company. Alternatively, the loyalty program may send the offer on behalf of the rental car company. In any case, embodiments of the inventive subject matter facilitate transactions between a loyalty program's customers and the loyalty program's business partners.
As noted above, embodiments of the inventive subject matter facilitate transactions between a loyalty program, its customers, and its business partners.
Transactions between the airline loyalty program 104 and customers 102 involve an exchange of money, airline tickets, and miles. As shown, the customer 102 pays money 108 to the airline loyalty program 104 in exchange for an airline ticket 112. For each purchase, the airline loyalty program 104 may award miles 110 to the customer 102. In other transactions, the customer 102 can redeem the miles for various goods and services, such as airline tickets, rental car services, hotel services, merchandise, etc. Conceptually, money (108), miles (110), and airline tickets (112) flow between the customer 102 and the airline loyalty program 104. Although not shown, the airline loyalty program 104 may provide an electronic interface (e.g., a website) (not shown) through which the customer 102 can purchase airline tickets and conduct other transactions. The airline loyalty program 104 may also maintain electronic accounts for each customer, where the accounts keep track of miles that have accrued, airline tickets that have been purchased, money spent, and other information associated with such transactions. Furthermore, the airline loyalty program 104 may be capable of receiving monies (108) from credit card companies and other electronic payment facilities.
Because the airline loyalty program 104 books travel itineraries for numerous customers, travel service providers can target specific customers that may need particular goods and services. As a result, embodiments of the inventive subject matter provide targeted leads to a loyalty program's business partners, and targeted goods/services to the loyalty program's customers.
This section describes an example operating environment and provides structural aspects of some embodiments. After describing some example system components, this section will describe more details about how the system components operate.
In some embodiments, a loyalty program operates one or more computers that conduct transactions and interact with other entities via a telecommunications network.
In operation, the loyalty program server 202 can process transactions for goods and services, and transactions that redeem and award loyalty currency (e.g., frequent flyer miles, miles, points, etc.). Additionally, the loyalty program server 202 can process transactions with the business partner servers 204. Such transactions can include offers to become a business partner of the loyalty program (see discussion of
The business partner servers 204 can process transactions for the sale of goods and services. In some instances, the business partner servers 204 provide electronic interfaces (e.g., web pages) that facilitate transactions with customers via the customer devices 210. When customers purchase travel goods and/or services, the business partner servers 204 can collect payment via the payment processor 206 and/or the payment source 208.
Loyalty programs typically choose business partners that bring a competitive advantage and/or revenue to the loyalty programs. Some embodiments of the invention assist loyalty programs in selecting and administering business partnerships. More specifically, some embodiments provide a mechanism for processing partnership offers from prospective business partners.
During stage 2, the loyalty program server 306 accepts one or more of the offers. In some embodiments, after the loyalty program server 306 receives a given number of offers from similar service providers (e.g., service providers offering the similar goods and services in similar locations), the loyalty program server 306 accepts one or more of the offers. In some embodiments, administrators can configure the loyalty program server 306 to accept offers based on certain criteria. For example, a loyalty program may want to have an exclusive partner for a particular service type and/or location. To achieve an exclusive partnership, the loyalty program server 306 would accept only one partner for a given service type and/or location. However, if the loyalty program does not desire exclusivity, the loyalty program server 306 can accept more than one offer for a given service type and location.
During stage 3, after accepting offers, the loyalty program server 306 inserts partner information to a partner database.
Referring back to
In some embodiments, if an offer is not sufficient, the server 306 can make a counteroffer or provide a hint about what offer is acceptable.
Although some embodiments can process partnership offers as described above, such processing is not required by other embodiments of the inventive subject matter. For example, some embodiments may rely on other means for establishing partnerships and entering partnership information into a partnership database. Thus, so long as loyalty program servers can access partnership information, they can perform other operations described herein (e.g., the operations of
This discussion continues with a description of how some embodiments facilitate transactions between loyalty program customers and partners of the loyalty program. In some embodiments, after a customer purchases services (e.g., airline tickets) from a service provider associated with the loyalty program (e.g., an airline), the loyalty program forwards product offers (e.g., via e-mail) to the customers. However, according to other embodiments, the loyalty program notifies its partners to send offers to customers.
During stage 2, the loyalty program server 502 selects one or more partners using information gleaned from the transaction at stage 1. For example, if the customer will be flying to Chicago on December 24th, the loyalty program server 502 searches the partner database for partners operating in Chicago on the given date. In some instances, the server 502 can use the customer's past history to aid in selecting prospective partners. For example, if the customer typically rents an automobile through the loyalty program, the server will select a partner who offers rental car services. In some instances, the server will not use past history, but will select partners that offer services typically needed by loyalty customers.
During stage 3, the loyalty program server 502 notifies the customer about product/service offerings available from its business partners. In some embodiments, the partner database tracks up-to-date product offerings, which are forwarded to loyalty customers (after the customers make purchases via the loyalty program). In some embodiments, the loyalty program server 502 forwards product offerings to the customer via e-mail. In other instances, the server 502 provides the product offerings when the customer accesses a loyalty program website.
During stage 4, the customer purchases products about which the customer received notice. For example, after receiving an e-mail about a special price for a rental car, the customer activates a link (e.g., uniform resource locator) in the e-mail (via the customer computer 504), and electronically books the rental car (e.g., via the partner provider server 506). As part of this transaction, the partner provider awards the customer loyalty currency. In some embodiments, the partner provider server 506 instructs a loyalty program server (not shown in
Some embodiments operate differently than the embodiment shown in
During stage 3, the loyalty program server 602 notifies one or more partner provider servers about a business lead. In
During stage 4, the loyalty program partners send product offerings to loyalty program customers. As shown, the partner provider servers 604 and 606 transmit e-mail notifications to the customer, where the e-mails indicate product offerings and associated loyalty currency awards. In other embodiments, partners can use any suitable means to notify customers about product offerings.
As noted in the discussion of
At block 704, the loyalty program server determines a price for the loyalty currency. In some embodiments, the loyalty program server determines the loyalty currency price based on information about the partner. For example, if the partner offers a very high value proposition to loyalty program customers, the loyalty program server may set a relatively low price. In other instances, the loyalty program server can consider other factors (e.g., customer service rating, transaction volume, partnership duration, etc.) when setting a loyalty currency price. In yet other instances, the loyalty program and partner can agree on a price, as part of a partnership agreement (e.g., as part of an offer—see discussion of
At block 706, the loyalty program server sells the loyalty currency at the price. In some embodiments, the loyalty program server electronically receives money for the loyalty currency, and deposits the loyalty currency in an account for the partner. In some embodiments, the loyalty program server hosts the partner's loyalty currency account. In other embodiments, partners have facilities for managing their own loyalty currency accounts. From block 706, the flow ends.
The partner selection processor 804 can select partners that may have product offerings related to a particular customer purchase. For example, for an airline loyalty program, the partner selection processor 804 can select a hotel provider, rental car provider, and tour guide that coincides with a loyalty customer's travel itinerary. In some embodiments, the partner selection processor 804 can utilize the partner database 802.
The loyalty account processor 806 can credit and debit loyalty currency in accounts associated with loyalty program customers and partners. The loyalty account database 810 stores account information. In some embodiments, the loyalty account processor sets a price for loyalty currency (e.g., performs operations shown in
The computer system also includes a bus 903 (e.g., PCI, ISA, PCI-Express, HyperTransport®, InfiniBand®, NuBus, etc.), a network interface 905 (e.g., an ATM interface, an Ethernet interface, a Frame Relay interface, SONET interface, wireless interface, etc.), and a storage device(s) 909 (e.g., optical storage, magnetic storage, etc.). The system memory 907 embodies functionality to implement embodiments described above. The memory includes a partner database 910, partner selection processor 911, loyalty account processor 912, offer processor 913, and loyalty account database 914. Any one of these components may be partially (or entirely) implemented in hardware and/or on the processing unit 901. For example, the operations may be implemented with an application specific integrated circuit, in logic implemented in the processing unit 901, in a co-processor on a peripheral device or card, etc. Further, realizations may include fewer or additional components not illustrated in
As will be appreciated by one skilled in the art, aspects of the present inventive subject matter may be embodied as a system, method or computer program product. Accordingly, aspects of the present inventive subject matter may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.) or an embodiment combining software and hardware aspects that may all generally be referred to herein as a “circuit,” “module” or “system.” Furthermore, aspects of the present inventive subject matter may take the form of a computer program product embodied in one or more computer readable medium(s) having computer readable program code embodied thereon.
While the embodiments are described with reference to various implementations and exploitations, it will be understood that these embodiments are illustrative and that the scope of the inventive subject matter is not limited to them. In general, techniques described herein may be implemented with facilities consistent with any hardware system or hardware systems. Many variations, modifications, additions, and improvements are possible.
Plural instances may be provided for components, operations or structures described herein as a single instance. Finally, boundaries between various components, operations and data stores are somewhat arbitrary, and particular operations are illustrated in the context of specific illustrative configurations. Other allocations of functionality are envisioned and may fall within the scope of the inventive subject matter. In general, structures and functionality presented as separate components in the exemplary configurations may be implemented as a combined structure or component. Similarly, structures and functionality presented as a single component may be implemented as separate components. These and other variations, modifications, additions, and improvements may fall within the scope of the inventive subject matter.
As discussed herein, aspects of the present inventive subject matter are described with reference to flowcharts and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products according to embodiments of the inventive subject matter. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
In some embodiments, the operations described herein may be represented by instructions stored in a computer readable medium or a plurality of computer readable mediums. A computer readable medium includes a computer readable signal medium or a computer readable storage medium. A computer readable storage medium may be, for example, but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, or device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer readable storage medium would include the following: an electrical connection having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory), an optical fiber, a portable compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM), an optical storage device, a magnetic storage device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. In the context of this document, a computer readable storage medium may be any tangible medium that can contain, or store a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
A computer readable signal medium may include a propagated data signal with computer readable program code embodied therein, for example, in baseband or as part of a carrier wave. Such a propagated signal may take any of a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, electro-magnetic, optical, or any suitable combination thereof. A computer readable signal medium may be any computer readable medium that is not a computer readable storage medium and that can communicate, propagate, or transport a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
Program code embodied on a computer readable medium may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc., or any suitable combination of the foregoing.
Computer program code for carrying out operations for aspects of the present inventive subject matter may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object oriented programming language such as Java, Smalltalk, C++ or the like and conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language or similar programming languages. The program code may execute entirely on the user's computer, partly on the user's computer, as a stand-alone software package, partly on the user's computer and partly on a remote computer or entirely on the remote computer or server. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the user's computer through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider).
These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer readable medium that can direct a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instructions which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer, other programmable apparatus or other devices to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide processes for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
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