Miami Beach visitor discount card triples holders
By Ivan A. Rodriguez
A card program designed to bring traffic to Miami Beach businesses by offering deals and discounts to residents and tourists has added thousands of new users to its list and is developing a smart phone application to track their spending behavior.
The Miami Beach INcard program, launched in June 2009 by the Miami Beach Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tourism, has tripled its distributions from 100,000 during its first year to 350,000 this year.
"The INcard has grown exponentially. We have more members and more cardholders than ever," said Aaron Perry, immediate past chairman of the board and spearhead of the INcard on the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Currently, 300 chamber members offer discounts through the program, Mr. Perry said.
The program is developing a smartphone application that uses a Quick Response code (QR), similar to a UPC code, for consumers to get the discounts without the need to carry the card and at the same time deliver to the owner or the manager metrics about the customer, how many items have been scanned and how many people are coming into their business.
"We can get their email address, location and zip codes to know where in the world they're from," said Jerry Libbin, CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.
With this data available, Mr. Libbin says, businesses will know how many people are shopping from out of town, which might be relevant to a merchant selling a product.
"It might be more important to know demographically where people are coming from, to know if they are tourists or residents," said Mr. Libbin.
The QR code can be placed in businesses' windows, menus or tables for consumers to read with their smart phones using an application that can be downloaded free.
The idea began as an initiative developed by the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Task Force, and the commerce implemented the INcard as a business stimulus program for the surrounding area.
"The INcard evolved from our mayor's taskforce. She reached out for us and asked what we could do to create economic stimulus," said Mr. Perry.
The program is a partnership with the City of Miami Beach, Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which allows an opportunity to promote the program on a local and national level.
"We were going through some challenging times at that point. Now the economy has turned around and we need to look and stay fresh," said Mr. Perry.
Chamber members can provide promotions or discounts and change them throughout the year with the program as well as have it visible online.
Residents and tourists register for cards online or receive them at the Miami Beach Visitor Center, the Miami Beach Convention Center or the Port of Miami to take advantage of the promotions.
Sabrina Bedeux-Linden, owner of Chez Badeaux Salon, said her business took off right after she began using the INcard, and she has gotten a positive response from her clients ever since.
"Miami Beach InCard users represented 75% of my overall business in the first year," said Mrs. Bedeux-Linden, who is a member of the chamber.
Most of her clients are residents of Miami Beach, she said, but she's hoping to give this same advantage to clients at another salon she has at the Sagamore Hotel, called Muse Beauty, who are mostly tourists.
"As a business, knowing as much information about what our clients are doing helps us out a lot," said Mrs. Bedeux-Linden.
The chamber and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau are to fund INcard initiatives.
The INcard will celebrate its third anniversary from 6-8 p.m. June 27 at the convention center, where vendors will be giving discounts and deals. The free event is open to the public.
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