When myself (Dave) and Dan set up Save East Coast Rewards in January I never expected things to turn out quite the way they did. Back in January we feared that cutting the loyalty scheme from day one (something even National Express didn't do) was going to be the start of a massive decline of a generally popular service. Fortunately these fears have been unfounded and the service has pretty much remained the same as before to begin with and the signs so far are showing the changes they have made are going in the right direction (the new first class menus look good, the first refurbished train is coming soon and I'm a big fan of Hop on Board).
We ended up building a decent working relationship with the VTEC team which includes meetings with the marketing director (who's also responsible for loyalty schemes - although he was not responsible for scrapping rewards, that was the fault of the bid team) every 2-3 months and at least one of us tries to attend the key Airtime events. It was at one of these Airtime events where I first met their MD, David Horne, as well as some of their social media team and other key managers. It was nice to receive acknowledgement on Twitter:
— David Horne (@DavidHorne) July 16, 2015
A few days later and it was Newcastle Pride, an event that showed VTEC at their best. They didn't have much time to prepare for it but they certainly did the city proud.
— Save EC Rewards (@SaveECRewards) August 29, 2015
It was also the first time I met Richard (press officer Richard Salkeld that is) and ^NB from the social media team.
— Save EC Rewards (@SaveECRewards) July 19, 2015
I had promised the social media team cakes if they came top of the Commute London rankings either 5 days in a row or were rated highest overall for a month. Although when they had achieved this I was a bit short on imagination and just ended up at tesco.com (still at least Clubcard points can be transferred to Flying Club miles).
— Virgin Trains EC (@Virgin_TrainsEC) July 31, 2015
After that it was all quiet on the cake front for a while but I did get invited to a wine tasting event where they were deciding on the new wines in first class for the winter and Virgin Red was launched which meant even more wine. At the VTEC managers conference Nectar decided to send them a cake
— Becky Hall (@littlebeckyhall) October 13, 2015
It just happened that Virgin Red happened to be running an offer for discounts on cakes, so it was time to seize the opportunity and send a No to Nectar cake.
— Virgin Trains EC (@Virgin_TrainsEC) November 4, 2015
So Virgin Red decided to return the favour and send me a 'Yes to Virgin Red' cake
— Save EC Rewards (@SaveECRewards) November 6, 2015