OctopusTravel is the first company to sign up for an online “member get member” (MGM) package developed by travel industry marketing specialist Tarsh Consulting.
The package, called ShareTheWordMarketing, allows travel operators to create online programmes offering consumers commission on bookings made by people they introduce – and also people those people introduce.
Octopus’ version, the OctopusTravelCLUB, gives members two per cent commission on anything bought through the website by anyone up to five links away from them in the chain. So if a member introduces five others, and everyone further down the chain does likewise, after five links there will be a total of 3,905 people potentially generating commission for the first introducer.
There are obvious similarities with the design of pyramid selling schemes and with old-style direct sales companies that operate through a chain of agents – Christmas hamper companies, for instance. With ShareTheWordMarketing, however, consumers pay nothing to participate and do not have to sell anything themselves. Tarsh Consulting founder David Tarsh says: “Making it free to join is crucial – otherwise, it would be illegal.”
Tarsh adds that one key element of the scheme is the fact that commission is paid directly to a Visa or Mastercard account. “No one had ever asked the credit card companies if they could do this before. We had to persuade them that this could be a new revenue stream.”
MGM schemes are common in the travel industry, but Tarsh claims that ShareTheWordMarketing is unique in allowing marketers accurately to track word-of-mouth recommendations and encouraging their customers to actively promote a company’s services through a targeted reward scheme. Members are able to log on and check how much commission they have earned.