H/t Daniel Pink who linked to a story about a “Disloyalty Card” being used by independent coffee shops in Singapore. If you go to one of 8 coffee shops and pick up a card, go to any of the other 7 to get stamps and then come back to the original, you get a free cup of coffee.
I know some arts organizations who have tried these sort of programs to encourage patronizing other organizations with mixed results. What appealed to me about this approach was the rebellious, counter culture feel of it. I had this image of a program that encouraged people to be disloyal to movie theatres and Netflix.
What probably works for the coffee houses is that they can create a bit of an edgy or cool vibe with their stores. If arts organizations are going to try this, they either need to have the same vibe or link it to a series of shows that have that sort of feel. No one is going to feel like they are walking the path less traveled if they find themselves in a staid, completely conventional experience.
My impulse would be to avoid using it during something like a First Friday event where it might look more like a bingo game where people breezed through to get their cards stamped. That doesn’t seem particularly productive. An opportunity to do it across the course of a few months to a year could encourage people to make a more deliberate progress- see a show one weekend, walk through a gallery the next month, go to a dance concert and take visiting friends to the contemporary art museum.
It doesn’t appear that the Singapore disloyalty program requires you to visit all 8 of the coffee shops, just frequent more than one. Even disloyalty programs need to be convenient so it doesn’t make sense to force people to wander all over the place just to get a free cup of coffee. The same would likely apply to a similar program with the arts. Even if all the participating venues were in close proximity, it wouldn’t really be effective to force people to frequent places that didn’t appeal to them.
Structuring the program to encourage people to try a few new things is good. There should be a variety of disciplines represented, but they should get credit for going back to the places they liked rather than only rewarding them for hitting every place once.
Heck, it probably shouldn’t be confined solely to places that were built with the intention of housing art. Get the coffee shop or bar that hangs work by local artists involved. Even better–approach the bars and coffee shops with some opera or classical music performances like the Yellow Lounge program in Germany I wrote about a few years ago or Opera on Tap. Getting these sort of performances into the mix would make for an interesting disloyalty program.
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