Not all loyalty schemes are created equal

Consumers gravitate towards hospitality brands which make them feel cared about, but those restaurants, pubs and hotels that go further by demonstrating an understanding of their individual needs are the ones who will triumph in the long-term.

Customers are not only drawn to outlets that go the extra mile; they also tend to remain loyal to them, resulting in repeat custom and positive referrals to their friends and family. This is why so many owners and operators are now embracing the concept of the loyalty scheme.

As the name suggest, loyalty schemes reward loyal customers, while simultaneously giving them an incentive to book their next visit – so what is the difference between a successful loyalty scheme and a dud one, and how can you be sure that you are offering your customers something that your competitors are not?

Generally speaking, loyalty schemes which are over-complicated or too involved are an immediate turn off. After all, it doesn’t feel like much of a reward to your customer if they have to work hard to redeem it. The key to a good loyalty scheme is to keep things simple.  Here are our three top tips on ensuring your customers keep coming back:

Make them ‘appy

The world as we know it is changing, and millennials – who make up around 30% of hospitality customers – love a good app.  If diners can reap the rewards of a scheme without carrying around a plastic swipe card, they are significantly more likely to use it and, crucially, benefit from it. Apps like this also allow customers to view their points and make new bookings. If a restaurant uses a platform which allows them to customise the app – for example by using brand colours or adding their logo – the customer will further feel married to their brand.

Remember their big day

Customers like to feel that you view them as an individual, rather than a number on a spreadsheet. This is why many outlets have started rewarding customers on their birthdays.  A good loyalty scheme will automatically do this, and many can also be set up to reward loyal customers on their membership anniversary, too. You would be surprised how effective a simple gesture like this can go.

Be creative with your rewards

The idea of collecting points is outdated. Today’s diners are looking for something a little more specific. Restaurants should be thinking about narrowing down the rewards they offer to make them more enticing to potential customers. Deals such as 50% off food each Wednesday, for example, are likely to gain better engagement than those which require customers to reach 100 points before getting anything back.

The hospitality industry is having a tough time at the moment; with the ever present threat of a no-deal Brexit and the reduction in disposable incomes among potential customers, restaurateurs, landlords and hoteliers need to work harder than ever to keep their customers coming back. Working to develop a valuable loyalty scheme that is of genuine interest to customers is key to riding the storm.

By John Trueman is CEO of Quadranet Systems, a provider of guest management systems and rewards platforms for the hospitality industry

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