Why I love @TheLevelUp.
March 7, 2012 Leave a comment
I was never that impressed by SCVNGR. I know that it was the darling of the startup scene (especially in Boston) for a while, but it just never really connected with me. I liked the idea of “creating a game layer on real life” but the game just wasn’t right for me. I didn’t want to make to chopstick wrapper origami or write napkin poetry for points. Maybe it’s because my friends weren’t playing or maybe I just don’t care.
And I also didn’t care when they released The Level Up.
When they first launched The Level Up, it was a local-mobile-social daily deal thing, I thought “Oh great, just what the world needs, another Groupon clone. But with weird game dynamics and crazy rules.” And then I didn’t hear anything about The Level Up for a while. It seems to me that they launched right as consumers and businesses started to question the value of all these daily deal sites, apps and emails.
But then, for some reason, I downloaded the app. And I found that it was nothing like what I had thought it was. It wasn’t about daily deals (apparently they pivoted without me noticing). It was about loyalty. It wasn’t about games (although Seth Priebatsch would argue that loyalty is a game – as he did in his famous TED presentation). It was about offers and deals that you earn through ordinary, albeit slightly directed/modified behavior.
You link your account to your credit card and the app is essentially just a QR code generator. That QR code is scanned at your favorite store, restaurant, or food truck and you can go about your way. No waiting for a receipt to print, nothing to sign, you don’t even have to take your wallet out of your pocket – or carry your wallet for that matter. Just hold your phone up to the cool phone-based scanner and you are good to go.
My love for The Level Up is three-fold:
- Technology – it’s new, cool, shiny, easy-to-use and phone-based. It cleanly addresses the issue of mobile payments without the need to add any new technology (NFC for example).
- Loyalty – I’m a huge fan of loyalty programs. I’m not quite George Clooney in Up in the Air, but I do belong to pretty much all the major hotel, rental car and airline loyalty programs and my primary credit card is an SPG Rewards Amex. I have a former manager of mine to thank for getting me into this craziness. While not every purchase choice I make is driven by loyalty, I’m more likely to go to a CVS than a Walgreens, stay at a Starwood over any other chain, fly Delta vs any other airline (although I am partial to JetBlue and Virgin America) and I eat at Boloco far more than any other quick-serve restaurant. And here’s where The Level Up gets REALLY cool. Purchasing via The Level Up lets me participate in both the vendor’s loyalty program (spend $150 at Blue Glass Cafe, get a $5 credit) AND my SPG program. Because the charge flows from The Level Up to my SPG Amex, I get points in both programs for each purchase. Win win.
- Food - While any business can use The Level Up, it seems like the earliest adopters are restaurants, QSRs, and food trucks. Anything that helps these businesses stay cutting edge, and get me in and out faster is always a plus in my book.
So if you haven’t tried it yet, download the app, sync it to your card and give it a shot. Or better yet, use this link to sign-up and we both get a $5 credit.
- The Potential of Turning Mobile Money Into Mobile Apps (readwriteweb.com)
- Loyalty Apps Get Real Results: Five to Watch (pcworld.com)
- T-Mobile Takes LevelUp Partnership Further With Merchant Terminals (mashable.com)