Thousands of independent and franchise restaurants offer loyalty programs, and they’re working. According to the National Restaurant Association, 56 percent of family restaurants and 69 percent of fine dining establishments detected increases in loyalty-program participation. The research also revealed that 57 percent of adult consumers are more likely to visit restaurants that offer reward programs. Loyalty programs are here to stay.
However, as consumers increasingly use mobile devices to make dining decisions, share restaurant recommendations, post Instagram photos of their food, loyalty programs need to upgrade digitally to keep up with their increasingly tech savvy customers. The solution? Modern digital loyalty programs. They drive customers to share socially, connect on special occasions, earn personalized rewards, and receive benefits without needing to save punch cards or remember to get them punched.
Restaurant loyalty programs provide the ideal platform to run multiple marketing strategies since not all customers are the same. Some consumers shop to save money, some respond to the chance at big prizes. Today, the millennial generation likes (and expects) to interact personally with restaurants and share their experiences online. The best in class restaurants offer modern digital loyalty programs to not only incentivize their customers to come back, but also to provide customers a venue to connect with the business however they like.
These types of loyalty programs are a win-win: great for the customers, and great for the business. If you structure your loyalty program effectively, like have multiple tiers or rewards and encourage customers with various attitudes.
4 key reasons to choose a restaurant loyalty program
1. To drive same day sales
Every business has sales slumps, and filling the slow periods in restaurants is especially crucial for staying profitable. Restaurant loyalty programs and mobile communications provide an unparalleled benefit for restaurant management—filling seats during slack times. Mobile marketing allows managers to promote daily specials through rewards programs, offer discounts for early diners, promote signature drink specials if legally allowed, and encourage breakfast or lunch guests to return for dinner service.
Research shows that 91 percent of adults keep their cellphones close 24/7 and that most people look at their text messages. Restaurants can remind customers of specials and events, offer discounts on slow-moving items at the restaurant, encourage dessert and takeout sales, and achieve other restaurant objectives through well-designed restaurant loyalty programs.
2. To celebrate birthdays
Recognizing customers’ birthdays impresses people and builds loyalty for all businesses, and restaurants gain additional benefits from birthdays. People spend more money on birthdays, and encouraging people to celebrate at a given restaurant increases business, encourages larger dining parties, creates goodwill and boosts repeat business. The National Restaurant Association states that 70 percent of people visit restaurants to celebrate birthdays. Loyalty programs inform management and staff when customers have birthdays, and a little recognition for the birthday guy or gal generates powerful PR and goodwill.
3. To encourage repeat visits
Repeat customers are easier to persuade with marketing materials than strangers. They spend 33 percent more new customers and refer their favorite restaurants to friends and families at a 107-percent rate. Advertising costs about six times as much to attract new customers as it does to keep established guests returning regular
4. To consolidate social media and in-house promotions
Rewards programs integrate well with social media promotions, and restaurants can promote their foods, culinary philosophy and customer-targeting strategy in coordinated campaigns across multiple platforms and media outlets. Drive more customers to websites or brick-and-mortar locations by promoting loyalty rewards, creating fun games, encouraging customers to share reviews, and inviting new guests to join the programs.
POS integrations include most popular forums such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Great guest experiences happen when customers have an “aha” moment, and reaching a layered loyalty milestone, sharing a family celebration, or receiving useful information about a restaurant event could certainly qualify as an “aha” experience. Connect with guests across multiple forums to share sympathy for causes, build loyalty and provide personal recognition.