LoyalT: Bringing check-in rewards to sport

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We’re always looking for hot startups and so it was with great glee that we were introduced to LoyalT, which brings location-based reward programs to life for small businesses by offering users special deals based on checking in, similar to Foursquare and Scvngr. The first implementation of LoyalT’s technology is called SharksFrenzy for The Sharks Rugby Union in Durban, South Africa.

According to Justin Raleigh, New Media Director at LoyalT, the concept of SharksFrenzy was started in August 2010 with a need to develop a sports rewards programme that not only rewards fans for their support to a team, but also leverages the emotional power of the brand behind it. The end result is a white label product across multiple platforms that uses technology, location and rewards as its heart beat.

On the consumer side: SharksFrenzy allows the Sharks fans to “check in” at selected establishments and retailers and get instant rewards for doing so. Instead of a cold discount, members are rewarded with the product, which may be a free glass of wine or a complimentary starter.

To take the rewards offered to members even further, LoyalT has created a novel gamification approach: members can choose either an instant reward, or a Random Reward, with the latter using almost a “win-and-spin” approach. Every time users redeem a reward, they accumulate points into a match day draw. Once they check into the stadium on game day, these points turn into entries into high value prizes.

On the supplier side: LoyalT is currently developing an advertising engine called “proximity.it” which has the ability to target exact demographics of users across all apps and platforms, placing an unobtrusive advert and replacing the splash page while the app loads. Proxim.it can target specific genders, of certain ages, at a time of day and day of the week, and within a certain location from the advertiser. It can offer once-off specials or discounts, applicable for a short period of time to a predetermined audience, every time any of the apps are opened. LoyalT is also creating an API that will allow other developers to plug proxim.it in their apps.

SharksFrenzy currently has an iOS, Blackberry and Android app as well as a responsive website which caters for older devices and browsers. It currently has over 150 reward partners on board, based mostly in the greater Durban area and this list is growing weekly.

One of the issues facing app developers in South Africa (where the app works) is that there is a proliferation of devices that don’t work well with HTML5 yet. As SharksFrenzy is coded in HTML5, it means that only the really up to date tech-geeks can access the full functionality of the app.

Because the App is web based, the older Blackberries running OS5 and below are unable to run the Ajax script. Considering that is a fairly large chuck of the SA market, LoyalT created the responsive website 3 months after launching the Blackberry app.

Another known issue is that game day check in relies purely on the availability of service providers, on game day: Sharks fans are lucky to get signal anywhere inside the stadium. LoyalT aims to tackle this however, by encouraging early check-ins on the outer fields and they are in the stages of implementing a wireless LAN network within the stadium to accommodate the gameday check ins.

The company regularly features in the top 100 free lifestyle apps in the Apple App Store and SharksFrenzy was at number 20 late last week. To date, it has over 11 000 App downloads, growing at an average rate of 50 to 100 per day across all smartphone handsets. Its responsive website deals with every other phone in the market. This has in excess of 3 000 unique member hits per month, using the site, instead of the packaged apps.

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