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You’ve heard of art curation and content curation. But what about reward curation?  And what is curation, anyway?


As a practice long-associated with the world of fine art, ‘curation’ has evolved (or devolved, depending on your point of view) to describe the assemblage of pretty much anything by pretty much anybody. Have a Pinterest board? Instagram feed? The latest content creation tool? Presto – you’re a curator! Umm, not quite.

Curate this

The very short history of the word ‘curator’, as told by Curator Tom Morton, goes something like this: In ancient Rome, curators were senior civil servants responsible for the city’s waterworks. By medieval times, the moniker evolved as ‘curatus’, a priest devoted to the care, or the ‘cura’, of souls. Skip to the late 20th century, ‘curator’ referred to a broad range of museum staff and freelance exhibition makers. And today, the term has been popularised wholesale to describe anybody from the celebrity programer of a pop festival to a fashion stylist touting a ‘capsule collection’. To illustrate the chasm between curation as caring (about the city’s sewage system, about the human soul) and contemporary curatorial practice, Morton concludes, “A curator, here, is essentially a paid selector of stuff for sale, whether it be concert tickets or cuff links.”

Used, abused and misunderstood

Of course, both the word and definition of ‘curate’ have been exploited beyond recognition both within and beyond the art world. But forget for a moment flippant marketing applications like curated cheese platters, fashion shows and restaurant guides, let’s focus on the essence of the word in its mid-20th Century sense with this explanation from Roya Sachs, as quoted by Alina Cohen in, Everyone’s a Curator. That’s Not (Always) a Bad Thing.

“Anyone can be an artist; anyone can be a curator. A curator is really a facilitator…. A curator is someone who connects people and ideas and creativity and finds a way to create a universal language between them.” 

And from the same article, art writer Osman Can Yerebakan comments, “It’s not law, it’s not science, it’s not medicine, [curating is about having] a certain way of being able to see things that’s different, or being able to see connections.”

A certain way of seeing connections

Reward curation is also about seeing things differently. It’s about connecting selected elements in ways that tell a unique story and create singular experiences for each recipient; experiences that fulfil your objectives to reward customer loyalty, recognise exceptional staff performance or build sales relationships. Always with sincerity and relevance. Getting that right takes expertise honed through experience, product knowledge, human understanding and care.

Curation creates value

Of course, you can source vouchers, gift cards, merchandise, even travel, from multiple suppliers. And maybe negotiate some good deals, as well. And then? What you’re missing here is a seasoned, curatorial eye to spot the nuances and possibilities for connections between brand, people and rewards. Someone to select the right combination of rewards, deliver on cue and make rewards magic that’s meaningful, memorable and meets objectives. That’s how rewards curation works – by creating a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Think of the value and return on investment. Let’s face it, we’re not all curators, so why would you do it yourself?

If it were easy everyone would do it  

Creating a meaningful, effective rewards experience takes diligent planning and careful curation. No, it’s not constitutional law or nuclear physics, but developing a context and finding the thread of connection between multiple reward options tailored for a particular group of people at a particular point in time – while pushing all the right motivational buttons – is no simple ask.

Select a partner who gets the essence of your brand and the nuances of your objectives. Then let them work their magic with a finely curated offering of rewards that bond, differentiate and honour the integrity of authentic curation.


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