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by Deanna Ting | January 12, 2015
Today, Chicago-based Hinda Incentives announced that it will acquire the Universal Rewards Exchange (URE) from Engagement Technology LLC (ET), as well as sign a co-marketing agreement with ET's parent company, Engagement Enterprises LLC. The acquisition and agreement are intended to support incentive, recognition, loyalty and other engagement solution providers with a full suite of state-of-the-art solutions to offer clients of all sizes. The URE will become a division of Hinda and its current management team, including Vice Presidents of Sales Jim Kilmetis and Andrea Lightman, will lead the new Hinda division.

"The Universal Rewards Exchange has created a unique, transparent marketplace for the many incentive and other types of do-it-yourself solution providers who seek to have their own relationships with vendors, or who wish to utilize the catalog or front-end program management technology of their choice," Mike Donnelly, president of Hinda Incentives, said in a statement. "Our aim in this acquisition is to help make sure that this invaluable industry marketplace has the backing and resources to meet the growing demand for its services among solution providers and vendors. We look forward to working with all of the other wholesale suppliers in the URE marketplace to generate more volume for all and to improve efficiencies for the industry."

The acquisition and partnership were formed to help develop new front-end program management technologies and engagement methodologies that can be applied to incentive strategies, Hinda noted in a statement.

As part of the co-marketing agreement, Hinda will immediately add to its value chain network strategy the technology and marketing services of the URE's parent company, Engagement Enterprises. These include the Solata Engagement Express and Portal program management technologies and the Engagement Agency licensee program, both of which are designed specifically for marketing, HR, recognition, and other solution providers seeking to help clients achieve specific goals by integrating all of the traditional levers of engagement.

The URE, launched by Engagement Technology in 2010, is a virtual marketplace of rewards consisting of more than 70 vendors. It offers solution providers a choice between receiving real-time reward feeds for merchandise, gift card, travel, and digital rewards on a real-time basis. It was designed for solution providers seeking a do-it-yourself, highly transparent pricing model and direct connections with suppliers.

The URE will now be able to offer its customers Hinda's complete suite of full-service, customer service, award customization, pricing advantages, and personalization services as needed for maximum program engagement. In turn, Hinda's solution provider network will benefit from a new catalog platform for those who wish to manage award administration on their own, as well as a suite of front-end program management technologies to better measure the ROI of traditional incentive, recognition, and loyalty programs.

Jim Kilmetis, a co-founder of the URE, will join Hinda full time to head up sales, both for the URE and for Hinda's full-service solution and other offerings. 

"Few people in the industry better understand the needs of our solution provider partners than Jim; he is dedicated to helping the industry grow, and understands all of the ways rewards, technology and well-designed programs provided by the companies in our value chain network can become a critical part of the success of our partners and their clients," said Donnelly.

Donnelly added: "Carefully selected rewards delivered in a personal way offer a high level of long-term impact in terms of demonstrating an organization's commitment to performance and loyalty. But without an effective program addressing all of the key areas of engagement in a measurable way, no organization can maximize results."

Hinda will also serve as a sponsor of the Enterprise Engagement University and Rewards & Recognition Expo, being held April 14-16, in Denver. This expanded education and expo program is designed to address key ways for solution providers to expand their businesses and will offer an opportunity to introduce them to resources in Hinda's value chain network and beyond.

"It's clear that many CEOs now recognize the connection between engagement and performance, the question for them is how to make it happen," said Bruce Bolger, principal of Engagement Enterprises. "With the support of Hinda, the URE can maximize its value proposition and growth opportunities to support the solution providers at the front lines of bringing these solutions to corporate America and who are essential to helping companies profit from engagement. This agreement will enable Engagement Enterprises to focus on serving the emerging engagement field through its media, outreach and technology services, as well as the Enterprise Engagement Alliance's Enterprise Engagement textbook, online and face-to-face education, the People-Centric Awards and the Engaged Stock Index program."