MGM Grand's loyalty program gets social, integrating sharing and transactional incentivesNewsBy Nick Vivion | August 8, 2012Share This article was originally published on In a continued effort to increase engagement across channels, some hotel brands are reaching out and forming new partnerships to increase the value of a customer through the digital lifecycle.We've written about hoteliers looking to drive loyalty and ROI via social media, as well as frequent fliers interested in earning points via check-ins and other actions on social media sites.The latest advance on the loyalty front comes from MGM Resorts' Mlife loyalty program. MGM has partnered with Visa and Topguest to enhance the program's value to increasingly social and mobile users.Members will now be able to add Visa cards to their Mlife accounts, enrolling them into Mobile Offers tied to their cards. For example, if a member purchases a hotel stay with an enrolled card, targeted special offers will be pushed to their mobile phones - say a special discounted ticket to a show, with an advance purchase option.If a member completes a transaction nearby to one of the MGM properties, they may be targeted with relevant deals nearby. This not only provides value to the guest as they navigate their vacation experience, but also allows MGM to pull guests back into the resort's orbit should they stray too far off the MGM path.Not that MGM's orbit doesn't already encompass most of Vegas, as MGM's announcement subtly suggests: "While shopping in Las Vegas with their enrolled Visa card, members may receive offers relevant to their interests. Ticket purchases for Bellagio’s exquisite “O” by Cirque du Soleil may trigger an offer for a pre-theatre dinner at the resort’s renowned restaurant Le Cirque; a retail purchase at ARIA could result in an unbeatable deal on designer jeans at ARIA Men’s, or rejuvenating at the spa may prompt an offer to use that new-found energy at a nightclub."Share this quote As far as social sharing incentives, MGM has partnered with industry pioneer Topguest to offer loyalty rewards to members for sharing across social media via online and mobile.The sheer scale of MGM makes this a noteworthy partnership, as member guests can now receive points via the Mlife mobile app for all kinds of activities across the dozen-plus MGM resorts and casinos.The app allows members to find events, get directions, keep tabs on slot jackpots, connect to concierges and to check in across networks to get points.Members who link their social media accounts will receive 500 M life Tier Credits when they virtually check in with Facebook Places or Foursquare, post a location-tagged tweet to Twitter, or share an Instagram photo from participating MGM venues.Members can earn 500 Tier Credits per resort per day. In Las Vegas, they can earn up to 6,000 credits by visiting all 12 properties in a day, with a maximum of 7,500 Tier Credits per quarter and 30,000 per year.Bill Hornbuckle, Chief Marketing Officer for MGM Resorts International, talks more about the strategic value of these partnerships: “Through these strategic marketing relationships, we’ve enabled M life to identify and reward engaged members, whether they are at one of our resorts or interacting with us on their mobile phones and social networks,” . “These new relationships enhance members’ travel experiences, recognize their loyalty and reward them for it.”Share this quote Amidst all of these developments with travel industry loyalty schemes - such as the growing third-party industry that helps users track their various loyalty balances - how can loyalty programs maintain their value to members?The commodification of loyalty points seems to suggest a tectonic shift in the way that such programs are viewed by both companies and their most loyal customers. Rather than being straightforward programs that reward their most ardent and frequent customers, they have become lifestyle marketing engines to encourage support across all tiers.What does it mean for the true big spenders that often account for a significant portion of travel revenues if anyone can become a high-flying VIP by earning points for actions beyond a straightforward purchase? Only time will tell, but it's definitely something brands should consider as they craft their loyalty programs to appeal to a wider swath of customers.