restaurant loyalty programs

How to Boost Restaurant Loyalty Programs with Digital Loyalty Cards



On a mission to help all businesses profit from passes.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
restaurant loyalty programs

Image source: Unsplash

Boosting customer retention and loyalty is crucial for restaurants, but common challenges like low retention rates, inconsistent visits, and managing online reputation hinder progress. 

Digital loyalty cards offer a practical solution by revolutionizing customer engagement and suggesting a modern and convenient approach to incentivize repeat business and foster stronger customer connections. 

Implementing digital loyalty cards and making them available to customers on their Apple and Google Wallets has never been easier with PassKit. It extends your mobile reach and helps you stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds. 

PassKit’s powerful features overcome the limitations of traditional loyalty programs and empower restaurant owners with user-friendly tools to design, launch, and manage customer incentive programs seamlessly. 

From customer retention and engagement to data tracking and analysis, PassKit enhances the effectiveness of restaurant loyalty programs. 

Start a 45-day free trial to explore its comprehensive features. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the benefits of restaurant loyalty programs, the challenges owners face, the concept of digital loyalty cards and provide step-by-step guidance on getting started with PassKit. 

Do restaurant loyalty programs work?

restaurant loyalty program benefits

Image source: Dev.Pro

Restaurant owners increasingly turn to customer loyalty programs as a strategic tool to build lasting customer relationships. These programs offer a multitude of benefits that go beyond mere discounts or freebies. 

Let’s explore the key advantages of implementing a restaurant loyalty program.

Increased customer retention and frequency of visits

A customer loyalty program creates a feeling of exclusivity for participants. 

They will choose your restaurant as their go-to dining option when they feel valued and rewarded for their loyalty, even when other options are available.

By offering exclusive rewards based on visit frequency or loyalty points accumulation, restaurants incentivize customers to return more frequently to earn additional benefits. 

It leads to a higher customer lifetime value as loyal customers continue to generate revenue over an extended period.

Improved customer experience and engagement

You can make your loyalty members feel special and appreciated by offering a personalized rewards program, exclusive offers, and tailored recommendations. 

This personalized touch fosters a stronger emotional connection, increasing customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Increased customer spending

Restaurant loyalty programs can have a significant impact on customer spending habits. Customers are more likely to spend more during each visit when incentivized to earn rewards or unlock exclusive benefits. 

In fact, research suggests that loyalty program members spend an average of 5-20% more than non-members.

Improved data tracking and customer insights

By examining loyalty program data, you may make well-informed choices about menu offerings, promotional activities, and general business plans. Knowing your clients on a granular level enables you to deliver customized services and relevant offers, boosting your loyalty program KPIs.

Reduced marketing costs

Increasing customer retention and spending reduces the need for expensive marketing campaigns for customer acquisition. Furthermore, loyal patrons refer friends and family to your business, acting as brand ambassadors and driving organic growth.

Important customer loyalty program statistics to consider

restaurant loyalty programs statistics

Image source: NextRestaurants

Let’s share some exciting stats to help you better understand the impact of customer loyalty programs.

  1. Around 57% of restaurants offer rewards and loyalty programs, and 41% of consumers say loyalty programs encourage them to buy from restaurants. (Insider Intelligence)
  2. Almost half of restaurant loyalty members (47%) use their memberships several times a month, and nearly a third (32%) do so several times. (Delloite)
  3. Customers who actively engage with brands and their loyalty programs make 90% more frequent purchases and spend 60% more in each transaction. (Neil Patel)
  4. Over two-thirds of customers worldwide report being more loyal to brands that offer rewards programs. (ExplodingTopics)
  5. Members of loyalty programs generate 12-18% more revenue than non-members. (Queue-it)
  6. 72% of US adults belong to at least one loyalty program. (SmallBizGenius)
  7. 84% of loyalty program members have made a redemption from the program. (Forbes)

The benefits of customer engagement through loyalty programs are undeniable, and the financial impact is substantial. 

However, there are a few major hurdles to face on the road to success. Let’s go over the most significant ones.

Challenges with implementing restaurant loyalty programs

restaurant loyalty programs challenges

Image source: SuperOffice

Let’s set clear expectations for establishing a restaurant loyalty program and explain the issues you may face during the process.

Technology requirements and costs

Creating a loyalty program that works well requires having the proper technology in place. 

It may involve custom app building, connecting customer data management systems, and ensuring consistent user experience across various devices. 

However, small restaurant owners with limited funds may struggle to meet these technological demands due to high costs.

Difficulty in tracking customer data

Although loyalty programs can provide a lot of useful customer data, analyzing and managing that data can be overwhelming. 

Accurately tracking customers’ behavior, spending habits, and preferences requires reliable data management systems and advanced analytics tools.

Extracting valuable insights from data can be challenging without these systems, ultimately hindering the program’s effectiveness.

Competition and saturation in the market

The restaurant industry has many loyalty programs, making it difficult for businesses to distinguish themselves. 

Instead of standard discounts or point systems, creating personalized rewards to match your customers’ requirements may be a better idea.

For example, you could offer exclusive access to limited-edition menu items, personalized chef experiences, or even customized dining packages.

You can also train your staff to provide exceptional customer service beyond basic expectations. Encourage them to engage in genuine conversations with existing customers, offer insider information about the restaurant or the menu, and make customers feel part of an exclusive community. 

Creating a memorable brand identity will assist you in building customer loyalty.

User adoption and engagement

Some customers may be unsure about the benefits of loyalty programs or hesitant to sign up for yet another program. 

To encourage participation, it’s crucial to clearly and consistently communicate the advantages and value of your program. 

You can also implement loyalty customer cards to enhance customer engagement by offering a simple and convenient experience. We’ll cover this topic soon.

Limited resources

Setting up and managing a loyalty program can be overwhelming for a small restaurant owner with limited resources. It may involve hiring extra staff, investing in technology, and maintaining it regularly. 

But with careful planning, innovative ideas, and affordable digital solutions like PassKit, any restaurant can successfully establish and operate a rewards program for small business.

Our earlier discussion suggested using digital loyalty cards to boost customer engagement in your restaurant’s loyalty program. 

Now, we’ll explore this topic further and provide insights on how you can leverage this digital transformation benefit.

What are digital loyalty cards?

restaurant loyalty cards

Digital loyalty cards are a modern upgrade from paper and plastic cards and static emails, offering convenience and improved functionality. 

Since customers can store loyalty program cards on smartphones in Apple Wallet or Google Wallet, they can scan them during restaurant visits. 

Unlike physical cards or emails, digital cards can dynamically update, displaying real-time points, daily specials or tier upgrades. 

iOS users can even receive lock screen reminders near your restaurant, providing easy access to their cards and increasing foot traffic. 

Loyalty reward cards enhance operational efficiency, eliminating fraud risks and reducing costs for printing and distribution. 

They also help refine customer lifecycle marketing and drive repeat visits, making them a valuable asset for any restaurant.

Getting started with digital loyalty cards using PassKit

PassKit customer loyalty platform

PassKit is a powerful platform that simplifies the creation, distribution and management of loyalty cards, digital membership cards, e-gift cards and mobile wallet passes for Apple and Google Wallet. 

It provides tools and features to design, promote, and track these cards and wallet passes, making implementing the points reward system easier. 

Here’s how to use PassKit to create digital loyalty cards and boost your restaurant loyalty program.

Designing the loyalty card 

restaurant loyalty card

With PassKit, you can easily create your loyalty card design.

You can tailor the card’s look to reflect your brand’s identity. It includes the colors, logos, images, and text.

You can include essential details on the card, such as the customer’s name, loyalty level, point balance, and other relevant information.

Adding tiers and loyalty rules 

With PassKit, you can easily create different designs for loyalty program tiers and seamlessly upgrade customers as they earn more points. 

The digital loyalty card in their wallet app updates instantly, eliminating the need to wait for a new card through the mail or search for an email you sent.

You have complete control over your program’s logic, whether it’s based on dollars spent or the number of visits. 

PassKit allows you to customize how customers earn points and the rewards they can redeem, making it simple to adjust your program as needed. 

Set milestones for earning rewards, such as reaching specific points or completing a certain number of visits, to enhance customer engagement.

Distribution to customers 

restaurant loyalty program promotion

With PassKit, you can distribute your digital loyalty cards through any channel

You can utilize PassKit’s email distribution service in your subscription or integrate it with other applications such as your email platform, SMS, social media, or website. 

When customers receive the link to their digital membership card, they can tap on it and save it to their Apple or Google Wallet. 

PassKit ensures they receive the correct pass, regardless of their device. You can focus on providing a great experience to your loyal customers while PassKit handles the technology.

Customer engagement and interaction 

restaurant loyalty program push notification

Once customers have their digital loyalty cards on their mobile devices, they can collect points and redeem rewards. 

PassKit allows you to send push notifications or targeted messages to engage with your customers and provide updates on their loyalty status, promotional rewards, online ordering or special offers in your restaurant. 

It encourages active participation in the loyalty program.

Analytics and performance tracking

restaurant loyalty program analytics

PassKit provides analytics and tracking features that allow you to monitor the performance of your digital loyalty program. 

You can gather data on customer interactions, redemption rates, and overall program effectiveness. 

It helps you make informed decisions, refine your loyalty program, and personalize your marketing efforts.

Integration with existing systems 

PassKit integrations

Image source: Unsplash

PassKit offers integration capabilities with other systems and software, such as point-of-sale (POS) systems, email management tools, marketing automation software, and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. 

It allows you to synchronize data, track customer transactions, and seamlessly manage your loyalty program alongside other business operations.

As you can see, PassKit assists you in developing loyalty programs that are customized and captivating. Our digital loyalty cards can help you attract new customers, boost their satisfaction for each dollar spent and improve the likelihood of repeat business.

Start a 45-day free trial now to see PassKit in action.

Choosing incentives for restaurant loyalty programs

restaurant loyalty programs incentives

Image source: Unsplash

Establishing a successful loyalty program for restaurants requires careful consideration of the incentives you want to offer. Here are some tips to help you make smart choices.

Popular types of incentives to boost your program 

Here are some incentives you can implement in your restaurant loyalty program.

  1. Points-based rewards: Customers earn points for each purchase, which they can exchange for discounts, free items, or deluxe experiences.
  2. Tiered rewards: Customers can unlock additional benefits as they climb the loyalty ladder. It can include perks like priority seating or access to exclusive events.
  3. Birthday rewards: Offer special bonuses or discounts to customers on their birthdays, making them feel appreciated.
  4. Referral rewards: Encourage customers to refer their friends and family to your restaurant by offering rewards or discounts for successful referrals.
  5. Exclusive access: Provide complete access to limited-time menu items, chef’s specials, or members-only events.
  6. Surprise rewards: Surprise and delight your customers by occasionally offering unexpected or personalized surprises based on their preferences.

Remember to use PassKit to bring all your customer loyalty program ideas to life.

Start a 45-day free trial now.

How to align incentives with business goals

It is crucial to align your incentives with your business goals to ensure the success of your loyalty program. Consider these helpful tips.

  • Define your objectives: Before creating your loyalty program, consider your goals. Do you want to improve customer retention, increase average spending, attract new customers, or enhance brand loyalty? Clearly defining your objectives will help guide the creation of your program.
  • Understand your target audience: Conduct market research and understand your customers’ preferences, spending habits, and motivations. It will help you tailor incentives that are most appealing to them.
  • Analyze your data: Continuously monitor and analyze data from your loyalty program to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. It helps you adjust your incentives more precisely and base your decisions on data.
  • Offer choice and flexibility: Provide a variety of incentives to cater to different customer requirements. Some customers prefer discounts, while others value exclusive experiences or personalized rewards.
  • Test and iterate: Be bold, experiment with different ideas, and measure their effectiveness. Monitor customer response and adjust your incentives accordingly to optimize results.

It is imperative to consider offering rewards to your customers that are realistic and achievable. Let us provide you with further insight on how to accomplish this.

Tips for setting achievable rewards

When setting rewards for your loyalty program, it’s important to balance offering value to your customers and maintaining profitability. 

Consider the following tips:

  1. Start with achievable milestones: Start with attainable rewards to encourage customer engagement and participation. As customers advance in the program, gradually raise the difficulty or value of the prizes.
  2. Consider the average customer spend: It’s essential to ensure the rewards you offer align with what your customers typically spend. Customers might get frustrated and lose interest in the program if the prizes are too hard to earn.
  3. Monitor industry trends: Stay informed and monitor your competitors’ offerings. Although standing out is crucial, it is equally important to make sure that your rewards appeal to your intended audience.

Let’s discuss some ideas to assist you in attracting more customers and improving the enrollment rate of your restaurant loyalty program.

Nine ideas for boosting sign-ups for restaurant loyalty program

restaurant loyalty program ideas

Image source: Unsplash

Here are some tips to help you promote your loyalty program effectively to maximize participation.

Offer an incentive for sign-up

It can be a free appetizer, a discount on their next visit, or bonus loyalty points upon registration. By providing immediate value, you increase the likelihood of sign-ups.

Offer early access

Reward loyalty program members with early access to new menu items, seasonal specials, or limited-time promotions. This exclusive benefit can create a sense of excitement and FOMO (fear of missing out) among customers, motivating them to join the program.

Train staff to promote the program

It would be helpful to educate your staff about the advantages of your loyalty program and provide them with the essential tools to promote it effectively. 

You can encourage them to mention the program to customers, explain its benefits, and assist with enrollment if required.

Partner with local businesses

Collaborate with local businesses, such as nearby hotels, theaters, or spas, to offer cross-promotional benefits. 

For example, loyalty program members can receive discounts or special offers at partner establishments, creating added value and attracting new customer interest.

Host a launch event

Organize a special launch event to introduce your loyalty program to your customers. Offer exclusive perks, live entertainment, or special discounts during the event. It generates buzz and creates a memorable experience that encourages customers to join.

Collaborate with influencers

Partner with local influencers or food bloggers with a significant following in your target market. 

Invite them to experience your restaurant and loyalty program, and ask them to share their positive experiences with their audience. 

It can significantly increase awareness and generate interest among their followers.

Create a sense of urgency

Use limited-time promotions or time-sensitive offers to create a sense of urgency for customers to join your loyalty program. Highlight the benefits they can enjoy by signing up promptly, such as exclusive rewards or early access to upcoming promotions.

Offer refer-a-friend rewards

Implement a refer-a-friend program within your loyalty program. Reward existing members when they refer friends or family to join. It incentivizes word-of-mouth promotion and encourages loyal customers to advocate for your brand.

Use gamification

Consider adding gamification elements to make your loyalty program more enjoyable and exciting. You can create challenges, quizzes, or interactive features that allow customers to earn extra rewards or unlock exclusive benefits. It can boost participation and generate enthusiasm for the program.

Best examples of customer loyalty programs

restaurant loyalty programs example

Image source: Starbucks

Starbucks loyalty program lets customers earn stars with every purchase. Customers can use these stars for free drinks, food, or merchandise. It also provides customized deals and incentives matching customer preferences and actions.

McDonald's McCafé Rewards

Image source: Youtube

McDonald’s McCafé Rewards focuses on its coffee offerings. Customers earn points for each McCafé purchase and can redeem those points for free drinks. They also provide personalized offers and special promotions for loyalty program members.

Pizza Hut loyalty program

Image source: Twitter

Pizza Hut’s loyalty program offers points for each dollar spent, which customers can exchange for free pizzas, sides, or desserts. They also provide exclusive deals and early access to new menu items for program members.

Best practices for creating a restaurant loyalty program

When implementing a loyalty program for your restaurant, it’s essential to consider various factors contributing to its success. Let’s discuss some of them.

  1. Know your audience: It helps you tailor your loyalty program offerings to meet customer expectations and increase their happiness. It can lead to increased customer loyalty and retention, ultimately resulting in higher revenue for your restaurant.
  2. Keep it simple: Simplicity is critical when designing your loyalty program. Make it easy for customers to understand how to earn and redeem rewards. Avoid complex rules or confusing point systems that can discourage participation.
  3. Leverage mobile ordering and delivery: This convenience factor can significantly enhance customer experience and increase program engagement.
  4. Use surveys and feedback to improve: Collecting feedback from your customers is vital to enhance your loyalty program and offerings. You can achieve this by conducting surveys or using feedback forms to gauge their satisfaction levels and identify areas for improvement. 
  5. Create a seamless user experience: To ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience for members of loyalty programs, all touchpoints should be user-friendly. Enrolling should be a simple process, with the option of accessing it through mobile wallets. Additionally, the system should encourage members to redeem their rewards.

A well-crafted loyalty program enhances customer satisfaction and contributes to the long-term success and growth of your restaurant business.

Restaurant loyalty programs: the bottom line

Your business can reap many benefits by implementing a well-designed restaurant loyalty program. These include increased customer retention, improved customer experience, increased spending, and valuable insights into consumer behavior.

It’s essential to recognize the challenges of implementing and managing these programs. Technical requirements, tracking customer data, competition, user adoption, and limited resources can all be obstacles you must overcome.

Leveraging digital loyalty cards and platforms like PassKit can help you create a successful restaurant loyalty program.

With PassKit, you can create a restaurant loyalty program tailored to your specific requirements. You’ll have access to various tools and features to design and personalize it exactly how you want.

At PassKit, we understand the importance of creating a loyalty program that aligns perfectly with your restaurant’s brand and customer preferences. 

Our platform allows for seamless integration with other applications you currently use and offers a range of features, including creating appealing digital loyalty cards, simple enrolment and distribution, and connecting with your own loyalty rules and rewards.

PassKit extends your mobile reach to include Apple and Google Wallet. Customers can effortlessly add and control digital loyalty cards, improving their convenience and engagement.

With PassKit, you can tap into the widespread usage of mobile wallets, providing your customers with a seamless and familiar experience.

Using PassKit effectively does not require extensive technical knowledge or coding skills. The intuitive design and step-by-step guidance ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience throughout the entire process.

Start a 45-day free trial now.

FAQs about restaurant loyalty programs

What are restaurant loyalty programs?

Restaurant loyalty programs are marketing initiatives designed to reward and incentivize customers for their repeat business. These programs typically offer perks, discounts, or exclusive benefits to loyal customers who frequently visit or purchase at a restaurant.

How do I set up a restaurant loyalty program?

To set up a restaurant loyalty program, follow these steps:

  • Define your program objectives and goals
  • Choose the right platform or software to manage your loyalty program
  • Determine the types of rewards and incentives you want to offer
  • Design your program’s structure, including earning and redemption rules
  • Promote your program through various channels to attract customers
  • Monitor and analyze the program’s performance 

Sign up for PassKit now to facilitate this process.

How many restaurants have loyalty programs?

The prevalence of loyalty programs in the restaurant industry is significant. According to Insider Intelligence, the percentage of restaurants that offer rewards and loyalty programs ranges from 57% to nearly 60%.

These numbers demonstrate the widespread recognition of loyalty programs as practical customer retention tools in the competitive restaurant landscape.

Remember, a well-executed restaurant loyalty program can be a game-changer for your business. It can help you build a loyal customer base, increase revenue, and gain valuable insights into consumer behaviour. 

Embrace the digital era, extend your mobile reach to Apple and Google Wallet, and implement effective strategies to boost customer loyalty and drive the success of your restaurant. Sign up for PassKit today.

Join The Cause

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Related Posts