Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program is sortof a “Little Engine that Could” in the loyalty marketplace. They certainly don’t need to have a program – most of their customers are not folks who have a choice in their train travel needs – but it is nice of them to offer it and it certainly helps them compete in the NE Corridor area from Washington, DC to Boston, the area where they are the closest to profitable. I actually was involved in a focus group many years ago to help them define and improve the program (some of the benefits discussed even made it into production!) so I have a special place in my heart for AGR.
It also happens to be a program with some very useful rewards to be had. Earning points is pretty straightforward and the redemption rates on train travel are pretty decent, other than the Acela trips. And they do run their fair share of promotions throughout the year, but the one I received notice of today was particularly intriguing. They are about to sign up their 2,000,000th member into the AGR program. And to celebrate they are giving away 2,000,000 points. Rather than a contest or a lottery or some other means, they are just giving them to all their members who ride a train next week. Every AGR member who rides a train on Thursday, August 20th will simply split the 2,000,000 points equally. Obviously that is a bad deal if everyone rides the train that day – one measly bonus point – but I think that the odds are significantly against such a likelihood. Amtrak only sees about 28MM riders annually – about 80,000 daily – and there is no way they are all members of AGR.
I don’t know just how many points each AGR member riding next week will earn on this promo, but I am strongly considering finding a cheap train out of NY Penn for a quick ride in the morning, just to find out. Registration is required in advance of the ride.
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