Six steps to an effective hospitality loyalty programme

Written by Reece

Loyalty programmes have long been the bastion of high street retailers who have used them effectively to drive engagement and increase sales. Hospitality, on the other hand, has been slower to embrace rewards programmes, but that trend is changing.

Loyalty comes in many different guises, but companies are moving away from convoluted systems that confuse customers and are focussing instead on simple systems and on conveying the additional value they represent to drive repeat use.

So, if like a number of bars and restaurants you are looking at loyalty but unsure where to begin, the following is a list of tips and tricks to help you get started and ensure your program drives business.

Keep it simple

There are different approaches when it comes to reward redemption but some of the most effective, are also the simplest. Costa is a great example, and their program couldn’t be more straightforward i.e. buy coffee, get cashback. They want customers to use their rewards, and to keep coming back. This drives loyalty and engagement which leads to customers buying more frequently, and spending more per transaction.

Companies that introduce complicated and restrictive loyalty programs deter usage and when the choice of bars and restaurants is plentiful, annoying customers is not an effective strategy. Customers need to be able to understand the program easily and to redeem their points effortlessly.

Don’t be shy

Don’t rely simply on the loyalty cards by the till to drive awareness. Social media and email marketing are both great tools to launch a scheme and communicate its benefits direct to customers. Promotion at site is also effective via point of sale and let us not forget the most important tool in your armoury, your staff. Customers have a special relationship with your team who in turn can ‘sell’ the program and drive its’ success, so it’s essential they’re involved from the outset and fully on board.

Make it personal

Loyalty programs allow you to collect data including birthdays and purchase history, both of which can be used to personalise contact and promotional offerings. If you are introducing new food or drink offerings, what better way to promote them than to select customers that have purchased similar items and contact them via email; all of which can be done quickly, effortlessly and for practically no cost.


Attracting the millennials

Millennials make up 42% of the “eating out” trade. Research suggests that businesses personalising their offer to this much sought-after demographic will have a far better chance of securing their loyalty, and custom. Millennials are the most likely to go out of their way to use customised offers versus any other age group and can readily be targeted using a loyalty solution.

Millennials are also more likely to share details of their purchases on social media, so combine your rewards program with an effective social media strategy and great food and drink offering and the chances are, millennials will attract millennials.

The gift of giving

The UK gift card and voucher industry was valued at £5 billion in 2015 and is a tool wholeheartedly embraced by many retailers, and for good reason. According to the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association, people using gift cards spend 40% more than the value of the voucher and 6% of vouchers go unused. Sites can and do, amass thousands of pounds in gift cards and the additional spend and value forfeited often justifies the investment in a loyalty program by itself.

Treat your best customers

While discount cards offer fewer opportunities for engagement, they can be a useful tool. VIP’s can be offered cards with significant discounts to attract patronage and the kudos this affords. Likewise, you can attract local businesses to your bar or restaurant by offering them a ‘commerce’ card. Last but not least, staff discount cards are a great way to monitor use and eliminate potential abuse.

Loyalty and reward programs have been slow to take off in the sector but are quickly gaining ground as businesses seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace and drive customer loyalty. Choose the right provider, keep it simple and communicate the program effectively and you can quickly reap the benefits of increased engagement and additional sales.


Polaris Infinity

The Polaris Infinity Loyalty solution works with Polaris PoS to provide a fully integrated solution. Used for gift card promotions, along with fully integrated loyalty and reward programs, Polaris Infinity helps businesses drive customer engagement and incremental business.

If you’re an existing PoS customer, or business looking to replace your current PoS and considering a loyalty scheme, contact us for more information or to arrange a demonstration.

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