Jess Shelcusky
Jess Shelcusky
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.

Game of Knowns

Have you ever wondered how the popular TV show Game of Thrones relates to the restaurant industry? The parallels may not be immediately apparent, but a fictional struggle for power among warring families isn’t too far off from the battle for market share and guest visits. In fact, what we know about the Game of Thrones characters can be applied to your pursuit of industry dominance. Warning: Spoilers for Seasons 1–7 lie ahead. […]

5 Trends in Customer Engagement That Restaurants Can’t Ignore

Restaurants across the industry are increasingly innovating and finding new ways to provide convenient and frictionless experiences.  Advances in guest engagement, from Wi-Fi marketing integrations to subscriptions, make it easier than ever for visitors to interact with your brand. They also enable you to determine which messages and promotions will resonate best in the future.

Guest engagement helps you get to know more of your customers and keep them active with your brand. Here are five of the top trends for delivering high impact to your top-line sales:

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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.  […]

How Should Your Restaurant Offer Delivery – In-House or Third Party?

Experts predict that the online food delivery market will reach $24 billion by 2023 and that it will make up 40% of total restaurant sales by 2020. As your guests increasingly demand the convenience of delivery, it is imperative to decide how to offer delivery in your restaurant. There are two options to choose from – you could partner with one of the leading third-party delivery services or tackle delivery on your own with an in-house fleet. Depending on the size and scale of your operations, either choice could be the right one to allow your brand to compete in a shifting industry.

There are several reasons why you would choose to use a leading aggregate delivery service like GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, or Postmates:

  • Exposure: For small brands, being listed alongside industry leaders makes their cuisine more visible to prospective delivery customers who have never heard of their restaurant before. For large brands, it also creates awareness about the availability of delivery service. Getting the food they crave without having to change out of their pajamas will thrill your guests and strengthen their relationship with your brand.
  • Convenience: Not only is it convenient for guests, but it’s also convenient for the restaurant operators using these third parties. Partnering with brands that are the best in their field lets you focus on what you do well without stretching your team too thin.
  • Expense: Launching an in-house fleet won’t come cheaply if you have many locations for which to provide vehicles and delivery drivers. Employees could be designated for a delivery role, but that can be a drain on resources during times when orders aren’t coming in.

On the other hand, there are also reasons to keep delivery in-house as part of overseeing the entire guest journey from start to finish:

  • Guest Experience: When guests order delivery and something goes wrong, 44% blame the restaurant – as compared to the 25% who blame the delivery company. Once it leaves your restaurant doors, the food also leaves your control. Making sure branded cars and uniformed employees deliver meals to customers is a priority for some brands that want to leave a positive impression.
  • Control of Data: Your customer ordering data is one of your most valuable assets. When using third-party delivery, you are prevented from making important connections between how guests behave when ordering delivery versus when visiting your brick-and-mortar locations because their data sits with the third parties and doesn’t link back to your loyalty programs.
  • Margins and Commission Fees: Profit margins in the industry are already slim, so giving a percentage of each order as commission to a delivery company might be unpopular among managers and franchisees. While there’s a larger upfront expense to finance an in-house fleet, keeping more of each purchase may prove advantageous in the long run.

What does the future hold for restaurant delivery? It’s clear that diners want to be able to enjoy their favorite cuisine at home in the most convenient manner possible. To learn more about these two delivery options, check out a webinar on this topic, “Delivery Wars: Third Party vs. In-House.”