Marianne Rumantir sits with Liviani Putri to share about her journey as an avid traveller and aviation geek which led her to establish a loyalty consulting and technology firm
“The reason why I love to travel is because I’m very curious and adventurous. That’s one of my biggest traits,” Marianne Rumantir opens the conversation as we sat comfortably on a couch after a long photoshoot. “Besides, I am always eager to try new things; it is a way to escape a bit from my daily routines. It fulfils my need to take a break and I get to spend time with the people I love, either with friends, family or even new people.”
At the moment Marianne is kept busy as the CEO and co-founder of Member.id, a loyalty consulting and technology firm that helps brands and businesses create long-term loyalty solutions. To that end, Member.id uses four main approaches, namely Design, Build, Operate and Trade. The company has recently merged with a project known as Travel Secrets and has now become TS Media.
Running a venture that focuses on loyalty solutions for businesses was not a coincidence for Marianne. It was based on her long experience of using the loyalty points she earned when she was running a concierge business back then when she lived in Los Angeles. “Most of us understand that our culture loves to impose on friends and family every time someone they know is travelling overseas. People will always ask: ‘Can you bring me something?’ Every time I come home, people would ask me to bring certain things. Then I thought, why not make it a business? And that was when NitipStore was born,” she explains. “It started at home because I was in the middle of having my second child and I had to be able to do something that was quite flexible and could be done from home. Most of the purchases was done online and it actually led me to another hobby, which is collecting points. Because by shopping for all those people, I managed to collected a lot of points within a year.” Later, she discovered that those points are actually a currency in itself. “Especially in the United States it is very powerful because you can purchase many things with it,” Marianne points out.
In fact, she discovered that points are like golden tickets, such as when she wanted to take her family on a holiday but didn’t had the budget for it and instead used her points. “I started researching online and, luckily, there are a lot of travel bloggers and I guess what you would call travel hackers based in the U.S. and Europe. They’re sharing their experiences as well as their tips and tricks.” Realising that she has collected so many points after years of purchasing from abroad, Marianne became more active in seeking info. “I started reading all these blogs religiously every single day,” she laughs. “It’s all about consistency and persistency in wanting to travel without spending much. I booked my first redemption flight from L.A. to London and took business class seats for the entire family. We stayed in a five-star luxury hotel using points as well. From then on, I became addicted. And I guess, once you go into the luxury travel realm, it’s hard to go back. Especially when you know you’re paying a lot less than what most people do.”
It goes without saying that Marianne started getting a lot of questions from friends and family, both in Indonesia and Australia. So, she started sharing her experiences online. “They say that they couldn’t do what I did here, but I found out that it’s actually possible. People simply haven’t discovered the secrets of that kind of travelling. I decided then to move back to Indonesia and started Member.id. The first order of business for this venture is to help other businesses create good loyalty programs and, obviously, make sure that customers understand how they can use their loyalty points. That’s was how it started. The aim was basically to influence and change the loyalty landscape. Actually, the business itself has been running in Indonesia for quite a long time, especially with banks and hotels.” Then Marianne adds: “However, I think what we are lacking here is market education and lack of knowledge among consumers. Secondly, another challenge is introducing this new way of helping clients in terms of designing and introducing the concept of customer rewards or loyalty programs. We always offer long-term value and we make sure that the longer they spend with us, the better the reason to invest.”
“I booked my first redemption flight from L.A. to London and took business class seats for the entire family. We stayed in a five-star luxury hotel using points as well”
The next chapter in Marianne’s journey is the media company which, again, was no coincidence. “Travel Secrets began as a passion project that I worked at with my good friend Luna Maya. She was the one who came up with the idea to create a YouTube channel, since we love to travel together but never documented it. We started vlogging without thinking who’s going to watch it, but we stayed consistent in producing content. In the middle of the way, we thought there must be an angle to this channel. We wanted to share the secrets of travel and then it grew.” Later they realised the best way to educate people is by sharing inspiring stories, real life experiences. “I then realized that my business needs a media company to influence people’s behaviour and change their perspective, also habits.”
Of course, no conversation with Marianne Rumantir would be complete without a discussion of her travelling style. “I’m actually a light traveller,” she chuckles. “I think people would be surprised hearing that because actually, I don’t like to overpack. I bring what I need and don’t mind wearing the same thing over and over again because I’m used to travelling to different places with transits in different cities. The lighter the better. Secondly, I’m more into nature than big cities or shopping, except for New York. But if I am able to choose, I would not spend my money or budget on material things; I much prefer experiences. Sometimes, for certain destinations, I wouldn’t have a full itinerary of activities. I just don’t want to do anything and simply lie down by the pool or beach to rest and unwind.”
Our conversation then veered towards exactly what kind of experiences she looks for when traveling. With a big smile Marianne says: “I always called myself an aviation geek, someone who actually enjoys flying and appreciate different planes and cabins. I have to admit that I like to fly in premium cabins, just because I have discovered how to do so without paying full price. Because travelling is not about the destination but the journey. So, I have to make sure that I enjoy the journey from the moment I leave the house. I would try to make it the time I spend in the plane memorable as well.” She also mentions that she can be quite picky when it comes to flying: “I like big planes. I always do some research on the seats and cabin types as well. Because different premium cabins have different designs. I actually like to try new airlines, too. Later on, I would usually check the transit cities and, of course, read other people’s reviews about the service as well.”
It’s been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shook the travel and aviation industry, which is something an avid traveller like Marianne certainly felt. “It was shocking at the beginning because during the first months of last year, we were starting to get serious about Travel Secrets. We managed to go to Europe, to Turkey, in early March, which was when everything happened. In the middle of it all, when we couldn’t really go anywhere, our first discovery was about trekking in Sentul, Bogor. I think we were the first ones who shared that idea. This whole situation pushed us to be more creative. How can we travel and explore locally? I’m actually grateful because without this pandemic, we would probably still be exploring international destinations all the time. But with this, we ended up discovering new places within our country and we’re helping domestic tourism as well. I managed to visit Lombok, which I have never been to before. I went to a few places in Central Java for the first time and within the next few weeks I’m going to visit several new places in the eastern parts of Indonesia. I can’t wait to explore more.”
As we adapt to the new normal of doing things, including travelling, Marianne mentioned that it’s important to feel comfortable and confident. “This situation affects people differently and everybody has their own choices and preferences. I don’t recommend people to go if they are not sure about their own conditions. Please make sure that you are comfortable, healthy, and also know what to do without risking yourself and others. Always get tested before and after a trip, and discipline yourself in following health protocols. Then, I believe, you will have a safe and pleasant journey.”
CREATIVE DIRECTOR BRAD HOMES / PHOTOGRAPHER ZAKY AKBAR / STYLING PETER ZEWET MAKE UP RYAN OGILVY / HAIR RACHEL AYU / STYLING ASSISTANT LINTANG HUTAMI