Food For Thought: Why festive incentives aren’t just for Christmas

Our Sales and Partnership Manager, Paul Berryman brings us another 'Food for Thought' blog. This month he looks at the importance of operators taking advantage of loyalty apps to really maximise customer knowledge and improve the customer proposition particularly at popular seasonal times.

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With the busy festive season nearly upon us, restauranteurs up and down the country are busy preparing and taking bookings for the onslaught of the Christmas rush.

Focused on staffing and other operational prep, making time to run promotions, launch new or existing Mobile Loyalty Apps, is probably not a priority or even a consideration for many owners and managers. Yet, this is the perfect time to unleash valuable promotions with the aim of the game to increase Mobile Loyalty App adoption amongst your Christmas guests to help drive next year’s revenue – and beyond.

Afterall, if you are like most restauranteurs, you are going to have more diners in just a few weeks than at any other time of the year. So why wouldn’t you want to cash in on the potential gold rush to keep those all-important customers coming back for more?

Here’s why you can’t afford to miss the opportunity

According to a YouGov survey last year, 77% of the British public are signed up to a loyalty programme. But when we look at the types of loyalty program people are members of, restaurants are the poor relation with only a 25% uptake.

Brits are clearly in favour of willingly joining loyalty clubs, especially when part of a beneficial and rewarding Mobile App, but our restaurants do not seem to be taking competitive advantage of the Mobile Loyalty App despite the plummeting costs of this tech and simple integration into many existing EPoS platforms, including pointOne.

As an industry we just don’t seem to be doing enough to quench the consumers hunger for good mobile loyalty programmes. Afterall, who wouldn’t want personalised loyalty initiatives loaded with value, convenience, dietary/allergen filters and so much more.

This is exactly what today’s affordable and highly functional Mobile Apps provide. They are no longer the preserve of the Big Brands and platforms such as YoYo and Como enable smaller chains and independents to all play on a level playing field.

The low uptake could be due to two reasons:

1)     Restaurants have not invested in the Mobile Loyalty App tech

2)     Those restaurants that have invested, have failed to effectively utilise the abundant features in the technology to apply engaging and rewarding customer experiences.

All-in-all there’s a big opportunity to launch or re-launch your Mobile Loyalty App and the busy Christmas period is the ideal time to do so.

All I want for Christmas is you new users

Thinking how you can promote your App and ultimately fuel your App growth over the Christmas and New Year’s period is a must do. Mobile App downloads skyrocket every December, seeing incremental increases year on year.

Christmas is all about the giving, so giving customers what they want in a personalised fashion is an absolute must.  Mobile Apps for our sector are now pretty amazing, with an incredible number of in-depth features that easily enable you to launch a range of great personalised offers and convenient features exclusive to your Mobile App community.

Don’t forget, Christmas is just one day but twenty-four days in which you can fuel your festive Mobile App marketing programme, all promoted instore and online. For example, why not create an advent calendar with a different deal every day pushed through personal notifications?

And it’s not just about exclusive App promotions. With the right Mobile App and EPoS integration, you can provide your customers with everything from click-and-collect, pre-ordering, bill splitting through to detailed menu and dietary filters.

It’s all about making sure all your customers know the great value and service you and your App offer.

Mobile Loyalty Apps: The Win-Win Outcomes

For the Operator, the proven revenue and operational benefits are vast and include:

1)     Retention: Keeping customers “sticky” and driving guest frequency

2)     Big Data: From business intelligence, personalisation to future AI and predicative analytics plans, expanding customer and order data is now a critical necessity and Apps are great way to gather it. In fact, according to our partner Kurve’s latest research, in the next three years personalisation was cited as the most promising technology (54%), followed by predicative analytics (50%) and AI in third place (45%).

3)     Feedback: Mobile apps can provide invaluable feedback by creating instant mobile notifications for guests to feedback their experience. Not only can this provide great customer ideas and help you continually make improvements, but it can also help prevent negative reviews online.

4)     Referrals: Mobile Apps are an easy and very effective way to get existing users to recommend a friend with an in-App referral programme. Not only to drive footfall to your outlet but also to grow your lucrative Mobile App community.

5)     Customer Ownership: Having a Mobile App for your restaurant is key if you want to claw back customer ownership and revenue from the likes of Just Eat and Deliveroo. With these mobile disrupters now entering the click-and-collect arena, having and promoting your own Mobile App is even more important if you want your customers to order directly with you – especially younger App savvy customers.

The Dodo Pub Company wanted to improve their customer loyalty programme and so chose to implement a Como loyalty integration with their pointOne EPoS. This enabled staff to scan QR codes from the Dodo loyalty app on customers phones and offer rewards and incentives for returning customers. As Fred Turner, the Operations Manager explains, “This data provides crucial information about our customers behaviour such as what they are buying, when they are coming in etc which helps us know what we are going to do 6 or 12 months down the line to keep relevant and fine-tuned to our customers’ needs”. Should Dodo wish to delve deeper with this behavioural data they can start personalised ‘real-time’ marketing i.e. offering a customer that they know comes in every Tues lunchtime for a pizza and pint a discount code on desserts for Tuesdays or a pizza & pint lunchtime deal for another day of the week to encourage more customer spend/visit frequency.

For the Customer, the Mobile Loyalty App, opens the door to increased convenience, control, personalisation and gratification:

1)     Allergens and Dietary Filters: Whether at your restaurant, at home, at work or on the bus, customers want to feel in control about how and what they eat. In a digital world of instant information, customer’s have come to expect detailed information at their fingertips at any time and at any place. Enabling your diners to quickly and easily access all your ingredients and personalise their Mobile App with filters, is not only safe for you and them but enhances their feeling of control.

2)     Up close and personal: Everyone likes to feel valued as an individual and in the modern world of online retailing and AI, consumers today have become acclimatised to a world of personalisation and promotional gifts of value. Having a Mobile App allows you to mirror this online driven expectation for the traditional restaurant.

3)     Local and Instant Promotions: Surprising your customers with exclusive promotion notifications not only helps boosts footfall for you but customers love receiving relevant gifts and discounts of value.

4)     Convenience:  Mobile payments are on the increase. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to wait to pay or have the problems of splitting bills and carrying out multiple payments for groups. With Mobile Apps offering built in payment features and the option to split group bills, the hassle and waiting game is over.

5)     Click-and-collect: Following in the footsteps of retail, the growth in click-and-collect for restaurant orders is on the rise. Ordering via an App is the preferred choice for younger customers - and has the added benefits of releasing staff time in telephone order taking.

So, if you have a Mobile Loyalty App not working hard enough for you and your customers or our planning on investing in one, the holiday seasons are a great way to shout about what you have to offer and get those all-important App downloads!

We partner with a number of leading loyalty software providers, so just drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about our loyalty integrations at pointOne.