Super perks for VIP customers

Super perks for VIP customers
Maybank Singapore flew four cardmembers and their guests, including Madam Shirley Seow (back row, second from right) and her son Daryl (first row, far right), to Manchester in Britain, where they watched Manchester United play Wigan live at Old Trafford.

It has been more than a year, but Madam Shirley Seow and her son Daryl Chua still talk about a trip they took together in September 2012.

They were flown by Maybank Singapore to Manchester in Britain, to watch Manchester United play Wigan in Old Trafford, home of the Manchester United football club.

At that match, mother and son, now 11, were hosted by United football legend Pat Crerand, a former midfielder.

During the five-day trip, they also had the rare chance to sit in on the football team's training session. The bank covered the cost of the flights and accommodation, which came up to about $10,000 for two.

"My son and I are big fans of the club, so we were extremely happy about the trip," says Madam Seow, 44, deputy general manager of Pioneer Electronics Asiacentre. "We felt so privileged. I always remind my son that few people have such an opportunity."

As one of the top spenders of the Maybank Manchester United Platinum Visa Card, she was picked for the exclusive trip, along with three other cardmembers and their guests.

Credit card companies, luxury-brand retailers and high-end alcohol brands have been pulling out the stops to pamper their top-spending customers with experiences that money sometimes cannot buy.

Such treats can range from private dining events with Michelin-starred chefs to private shopping sessions with a celebrity stylist to being flown to Los Angeles to watch the Grammy Awards.

Making customers feel special is not new, but retail experts say merchants have been upping their offerings in recent years.

Dr Seshan Ramaswami, associate professor of marketing education at the Singapore Management University, says "the competition for offering superior membership benefits has now become even more frantic".

He adds: "The super rich class of consumers are global in their outlook and thirsty for ever more exotic experiences."

Dr Lynda Wee, an adjunct associate professor specialising in retail management at Nanyang Technological University, agrees and says merchants have been offering "experiential" treats, especially in the last 10 years or so.

She says: "In the past, if you buy something, you may get a free gift, such as an umbrella.

"Now, when you buy something, you get invited to a private show or a spa or to an exclusive dining event. You experience it, you take pictures, you get to interact with people."

Maybank Singapore says it holds special events on a quarterly basis and these are part of their "endeavour to reward our valued premium cardmembers". There are various ways to ascertain a customer's spending power.

For instance, the DBS Insignia Visa Infinite card has a starting credit limit of $1 million, which means members, who qualify strictly by invitation, can charge at least $1 million to the card.

The UOB Reserve Card, which targets the top 1 per cent of affluent individuals in Singapore, is extended by invitation only to clients who have deposits and investments with the bank of at least $2 million, and also to some high-spending customers.

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