The deal allows Expedia to offer some form of loyalty program without having to create its own infrastructure. Expedia is the first online travel company to reward U.S. consumers for eligible travel purchases made with any credit or debit card. At the same time, the 10 million members of Citigroup's ThankYou Network get an additional outlet for point redemption.
The partnership is the first time Citigroup has expanded its loyalty program to allow point accumulation outside the company. Expedia.com is powering the redemption of travel rewards on the ThankYou Network's Web site.
At least one loyalty program expert applauded the alliance.
"This is a great partnership and it's probably the first of many more as Citi attempts to expand the scope of the ThankYou Network and strengthen the value proposition for consumers," said Rick Ferguson, editorial director for Alliance Data System's COLLOQUY, which tracks loyalty marketing programs.
"Expedia will enjoy an acquisition benefit by becoming a player in ThankYou while leveraging the strength of the program to build loyalty to their own brand," he added. "Citi gets a great travel partner and ThankYou Network members will enjoy additional ways to earn rewards. It's a win for Citi, Expedia and their customers."
Citigroup recently broke new advertising for the ThankYou Network featuring a traveling middle-aged European and his younger sidekick.