Chase Sapphire Preferred Serves Up 'Taste America'

Chase's Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature card is back as presenting sponsor of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast,” a national epicurean tour from Sept. 12 through Oct. 25. 

The tour hits ten cities over five weekends with a four-course dinner by a Taste America All-Star and a local celebrity chef. The program, for which Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature cardmembers get perks like special access to chefs and behind-the-scenes action, recipes, and preferred seating, makes sense for the company, whose rewards focus on travel and dining. At the kickoff event last week in New York, featuring chef Daniel Boulud, Jeff Bedard, the business director of Chase Sapphire Preferred, spoke with Marketing Daily.  

Q: Are loyalty programs, generally, a marketing focus for Chase Sapphire Preferred? 

A: I'd say it is not a goal of marketing; it is something that should be expected in a relationship. Loyalty is something you have to earn, and you do that by providing [cardmembers] with value and products and services that not only are to be expected, but that go above and beyond that.

Q: But do customers choose cards by loyalty programs and partnerships like this?

A: I’d separate loyalty from rewards. Loyalty comes through that long-term relationship brought to life by both service and experiences like this. We have designed our own program, Ultimate Rewards, where members can exchange points that they earn on their card for these great experiences. So, for example, with Chase Sapphire Preferred, we offer travel at a 20% discount off of the points that you would be required to redeem. So, for example, a $500 flight would typically require 50,000 points. You are able to redeem for that flight with 40,000 points. 

Q: Who are you benchmarking when you develop these programs?

A: We designed it to provide a great value, and we are looking at competitive product offerings to make sure we are among the best of them. 

Q: Do you think people still choose banks on the brick-and-mortar aspect of it? Like location? Or have mobile and rewards changed all that?

A: That really hasn't changed. People still choose banks based on location. But while that was the sole meaning of convenience years ago, today convenience means all of the mobile-optimized tools and service you need to do banking efficiently. In New York, yes, there is a Chase branch on nearly every corner, which is obviously convenient. But in other markets, like Philadelphia where I live, there are no branches, but we still have that convenience and customer service focus: when you have Sapphire Preferred and call customer service, you immediately get through to an advisor, there's no recording or waiting. And that advisor is trained to take care of pretty much anything.

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