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International Card Services’ Head of Marketing on partnering with Booking.com

maarten limmen
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Hi Maarten – let’s start with a quick introduction

My name is Maarten Limmen, I’m the Head of Marketing at International Card Services – or ICS – based in the Netherlands. 

We’re responsible for the acquisition, stimulation and retention of credit card users within the Netherlands. 

What do you think is the most important channel to attract new customers today?

Well, obviously, there’s the internet – it’s very important to use digital channels to find new customers. 

But in our case, it's also very important to use partnerships to find new customers, too. That means leveraging the customer bases of big brands, like Booking.com, to steer their customers towards our products as well.

How would you describe your partnership with Booking.com?

Our partnership with Booking.com is very valuable. Credit cards tend to be an important way to pay while travelling, so that means that by working with Booking.com we can offer our customers some added value on top of our own value proposition.

In addition to helping us attract new customers, it encourages them to use our product more and can even boost loyalty. 

What developments are you most looking forward to in the future? 

For us it’s definitely the Connected Trip. 

Being able to offer more of the travel journey to our customers via a single platform, and making it easier for them to book their whole trip – the accommodation, the flights and so on – will help to enhance our product. 

What do you think helps drive customer loyalty today?

I think it's very important to stay true to yourself as a company so that people know you're reliable and trustworthy. 

In our case, we’re in payments, so it’s vital that we do what we say we will. I think if you do that, and if you’re there for people if they ever have any issues, then they will stay loyal.

Sustainability is a huge topic at the moment, so how are you approaching sustainability? 

We're spending a lot of time looking at how we can become a more sustainable partner, and a more sustainable company.

That also means looking at our partners – assessing whether they fit with our sustainability goals, and what role we need to play to move towards a greener, more environmentally-friendly world.

And finally, what advice would you give to new demand partners?

I would say start slowly but keep iterating and trying new things. Don't expect that just because you’re partnering with Booking.com that some sort of magic will happen and everything works by itself. You need to invest in it – but if you do, that investment will be returned. 

That’s what we've seen in the past few years – every time we invested in our partnership, the results grew.

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Key takeaways

  • Effective partnerships can be a powerful source of new customers
  • By adding value on top of an existing value proposition, partnerships can boost customer loyalty
  • Offering customers even more – such as via the Connected Trip – should only enhance this value add
  • If you’re just starting, start slow but keep investing

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