7 Innovative Ways to Reward Guests in a Modern Loyalty Program

Looking for ways to update your guest engagement strategy? Today’s loyalty programs don’t just offer discounts – they leverage machine learning to target guests with the offers and promotions most relevant to them while motivating behaviors that increase revenue. In order to be successful, loyalty programs need to enroll as many guests as possible, encourage them to become active members, and drive incremental purchases, so if your impression of a loyalty program is just a digitized version of the old-fashioned punch card, think again!

Here are seven ways to reward guests that can be built into your loyalty program to boost guest activity and ROI for your brand:

1. Experience-Based Rewards

Some loyalty programs reward their guests by providing memorable experiences. This works particularly well for fine-dining brands, which may offer access to exclusive events and allow points to be redeemed for private tasting menus. Some programs also give members a superior dine-in experience through priority seating and the ability to make reservations in advance. Receiving preferential treatment and exclusive experiences makes these guests feel not only valued but special.

2.  Tiered Birthday Rewards

The birthday reward is a staple of most loyalty programs, but it doesn’t need to be the same for all of your guests. California Pizza Kitchen’s CPK Rewards program offers different birthday rewards for guests depending on their level of engagement. Whereas guests in the lowest tier are rewarded with a free birthday dessert, those in the other three tiers receive a free birthday entrée. Guests in the diamond and elite tiers also receive free entrées on their half birthday and earn double points throughout their birthday month, giving these guests even more reasons to celebrate! Using this rewards structure for birthdays makes it possible for all members to benefit, but the rich rewards are reserved for your best guests.

3.  One-to-One Marketing

Loyalty programs should no longer employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Sending out the same offers and promotions to all of your guests is not going to drive the impact you need. As the penetration of your program grows and you gather data on more of your guests, you can use these insights to fine-tune your marketing strategy. Restaurants should target each guest with individualized offers and promotions, providing content that is relevant to them while giving you the best possible revenue drivers. 

4.  No Card Required

Physical cards shouldn’t be necessary for loyalty members to identify themselves. Some alternatives include providing a phone number or email address at the POS, using a mobile app to check in, or adding a pass to their preferred NFC payment app, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. These options enable guests to be recognized without having to carry another card in their wallets.   

5.  Bankable Points

While many loyalty programs still automatically reward guests with free menu items or dollars off after they reach a certain threshold, that isn’t the only structure available. A bankable points system allows guests to save their points and redeem them at different levels. With the URewards program from Uccello’s Ristorante, guests can redeem as few as 100 points for an order of pizza puffs or save until they reach 750 points and redeem them for 25 reward dollars. Starbucks has likewise chosen this format for its recently redesigned rewards program, which gives guests the flexibility to choose the rewards they want, big or small. Bankable points programs are a great option to engage a broad range of guests and promote loyalty in both the short and long term.

6.  Charitable Donations

For some guests, knowing that their points are going toward a good cause is its own reward. One restaurant that gives loyalty members the opportunity to pay it forward is Silver Diner. With its “Eat Well, Do Well” program, guests simultaneously earn rewards and help local schools, as a percentage of their purchases goes towards improving scholastic nutrition and fitness programs. Restaurants can also support local charitable efforts by running limited-time offers and allowing members to donate their points to worthy causes.

7.  Catering Loyalty

If your business lends itself to catering, you have likely implemented a catering option or are thinking about it. Gaining even one new catering client per week can be the equivalent of more than 20 individual customers. Pairing catering with loyalty is a great way to get to know this group of guests and inspire repeat purchases. But catering loyalty should be kept separate from your regular program because having the same rewards structure would result in a lot of free items and an unnecessary loss in revenue. A catering-specific loyalty program should be based on the recency, frequency, and average spend of your catering orders.

With so many reward options available, there’s no reason why your loyalty program shouldn’t stand out as something truly rewarding for your guests. Contact Paytronix today to get started on improving your program!

Jess Shelcusky

The Author
Jess Shelcusky is a marketing communications specialist at Paytronix focusing on the restaurant industry. With an MBA from Boston College and a passion for telling stories, she helps produce new content to help businesses take their marketing to the next level. When not blogging, managing the Paytronix Twitter account, or hosting webinars, she loves trivia and rewatching Game of Thrones.

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