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Tue 17 Jan 2017 02:16 PM

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GEMS Education to launch rewards plan to make tuition 'cost neutral'

School operator says it will partner with UAE lifestyle brands across food, retail, banking, wellness, and hospitality

GEMS Education to launch rewards plan to make tuition 'cost neutral'
GEMS has appointed Manav Fernandez as senior vice president, customer loyalty to lead the programme.

GEMS Education has announced it will launch a rewards programme for students, parents, and teachers in its network in the UAE.

The school operator will partner with lifestyle brands across food, retail, banking, wellness, and hospitality in the country to offer rewards and benefits that will offset the cost of school fees.

GEMS education managing director and board member Dino Varkey said: "Our goal is to give back through cash-savings and invaluable customised experiences to our parents, children and their families as an expression of our gratitude to them. We will do this by building and leveraging associations with companies that share our values and goals."

GEMS has appointed Manav Fernandez as senior vice president, customer loyalty to lead the programme. He said: "In an effort to strengthen and support our strong parent-teacher-student community, we are creating a Privilege and Rewards programme that reinforces our appreciation for the relationships we have, and demonstrates our commitment to constantly add value to the lives of everyone within the GEMS family."

While more details on the partnerships or the structure of the rewards programme weren't made available, Fernandez told Education Journal ME the rewards programme will be introduced at the beginning of the new school year in September 2017.

"It's a fairly unique proposition. There isn't another programme of its kind that we have been able to find. We're trying to put together the mechanics of how to address the complexities of the decision making process," he said.

Fernandez also addressed the challenges of planning a rewards or loyalty programme for a school operator.

"If you look at a typical loyalty programme – if you fly with Skywards, for example, the idea is to reduce the attrition and increase the frequency or lift. Frequency is how often you fly with us and lift is how many additional flights we can get out of you and that's what typically applies to most loyalty programmes.

"Now, none of those apply to an educational scenario. So it's much a rewards programme and we're trying to figure out what are the behaviours that we can work on in order to create the structure to make the programme work properly."

Commenting on the structure of the programme itself, Fernandez said: "I think it will be about targeting different lifestyle segments. The relevance of the programme and the relevance of the rewards will be based more on the type of lifestyle of the families. It's a very data-driven programme and we're going to use that data to create rewards that are relevant for each of the segments."

More information on the partnerships and the structure of the programme are expected to be revealed before the summer.

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