Monthly Archives: July 2006

More About Gift Cards and Frequent Flyer Programs

Some interesting information fro Barter News (Tuesday Report, July 18, 2006,

“The National Restaurant Association says that restaurants are the top category of gift cards/certificates that consumers want to receive. And restaurants love them as well, because spending by gift card recipients is typically 20% to 50% higher than a restaurant’s average check.
Gift cards are also a great advertising vehicle because they’re so easy to carry. Restaurant owners who focus their time and effort on a custom card design (it should be consistent with other marketing materials) will find they’re an excellent way to get increased consumer attention.
As the marketplace expands for gift cards of every industry imaginable, we will continue to see a growing market for the exchanging (bartering) of gift cards. An example:”

[Gift credits, whether they manifest as printed certificates, magnetic data on stored value cards, or as credits on a central ledger, represent a kind of private currency that could potentially circulate among the general public and be used as alternative payment media. Canadian Tire Money is a vintage program that has, over a period of more than 50 years proven the point (see the article at
While gift credits are typically sold for cash, they could easily be floated by issuing companies as payment to suppliers and employees, thus making their creation independent of the money and banking system. Rebate programs like Canadian Tire Money could likewise be issued, converting them to true alternative currencies. – t.h.g.]

Frequent Flier Miles Now Revenue Generators, Not Loyalty Programs

According to Randy Petersen, Editor of Inside Flyer, frequent flier programs have changed their course. Promoting customer loyalty has taken a back seat as airlines have turned to generating revenue by selling miles to partners. And it’s doubtful the airlines will ever change from their present direction.
Why? Because the programs have turned into huge revenue producers on their own, becoming an annual $4-billion industry. Today, according to Petersen, there are 430 million members with 14.2 trillion miles in circulation. (An average of 33,035 per program member.)
Every single frequent flier program in North America is profitable, Peterson contends. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to airlines. There’s no doubt that without those programs, maybe two or three airlines wouldn’t be around today.””

[FF programs may be profitable but so are Ponzi schemes. Without a proper accounting of their basis of issuance and the resources available for their redemption, it’s impossible to tell whether they provide a sound “currency” or one that bound to depreciate and eventually become worthless. – t.h.g]

The BALLE Pre-conference on Complementary Currencies

Originally uploaded by tomazgreco.

Organizer, Chris Lindstrom and others at the Burlington conference.