The popularity of loyalty rewards programs is easy to explain: Great loyalty rewards programs drive revenue by helping restaurants turn new guests into regulars.
Offering rewards when guests spend more, make repeat visits, or post about you on social media gives them a reason to choose your restaurant over another and can give a big boost to sales when done right, according to Harvard Business Review.
Looking at other programs for inspiration is a great way to start. You can model a program after the one you like best or develop a mix-and-match approach to create a loyalty program that fits your business. As you review and brainstorm, you might even dream up benefits unique to your restaurant.
Check out these eight examples of creative loyalty rewards programs that can attract new guests and encourage customers to keep coming back.
Restaurant loyalty program case studies
You’ve probably noticed different types of customer loyalty programs at some of your favorite stores, restaurants, and cafes. Many chain restaurants offer their own customer loyalty programs—here’s a rundown of some of the most popular.
But what works for a national brand doesn’t always make sense for an independent operator or restaurant group, and vice versa. As you consider examples of loyalty rewards programs, think about which formats, perks, and tracking systems would work best for your restaurant.
Flour Bakery, Boston
Running a cafe and bakery in Boston means competing with Dunkin’, which has its own fiercely loyal customer base. Flour Bakery launched a bespoke app-based loyalty rewards program to compete with Dunkin’ Rewards.
In addition to rewarding purchases, customers can use the mobile app to skip lines during order pickups and gift goodies to friends and family.
Juana Tamale, Philadelphia
This award-winning Mexican spot puts its own fun spin on everything from birria tacos to Caesar salad, so it’s no surprise that its recently relaunched rewards program gamifies the experience for guests.
Rather than tying points to dollar amounts, Juana Tamale’s loyalty program offers 100 points per visit with a minimum spend of $15. Prizes increase in value from free churros (200 points) to a 30% discount (500 points) to a free T-shirt (1000 points).
Tin Shop Restaurant Group, Washington, D.C.
Loyal customers can join the Tin Shop Social Club for a monthly fee of $39.99. Membership includes invites to special members-only events. Exclusive, experiential rewards like this are quickly becoming the preferred type of reward offered by loyalty programs. In fact, 84% of millennials prefer them to transaction-based rewards.
Membership also grants people perks including daily free drinks and twice-monthly free happy hours at any of the hospitality group’s bars and beer halls.
Anchor Bar, Buffalo
The bar that claims to have created the Buffalo wing offers not one but two loyalty rewards programs. Its free App Perks program lets guests rack up and redeem points for future purchases at more than a dozen franchise locations. The bar’s higher-tier loyalty program gives guests free food for every $20 spent, with a one-time membership fee of $15.
Sabrina’s Cafe, Philadelphia
At this popular brunch spot, guests in the loyalty program earn a point for every dollar they spend. When they reach 100 points, they get $10 taken off their next bill.
Sanrina also employs a classic loyalty program benefit that people love: Members who dine in on their birthday also receive a special freebie.
El Lopo, San Francisco
At Spanish-inspired wine bar El Lopo, customers pay monthly into the Take-Care-of-Me Club in exchange for added value and VIP treatment. The staff serves up fare curated to the member’s preferences until a set spending limit is reached—no menus or bills needed.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, national
This national chain drives repeat visits with its BJ’s Premier Rewards Plus program. Diners earn one point for every dollar they spend and can redeem loyalty points for discounts on future purchases, excluding alcohol.
BJ’s uses an irresistible strategy to get people to join their loyalty program. Newcomers are given a free “Pizookie” the day they sign up. For the uninitiated, that’s a sweet mashup between a pizza and a cookie.
Landry’s Select Club, national
Members of this rewards program can earn and redeem points at 600-plus participating concepts across the company’s portfolio. That includes casual and upscale brands like Joe’s Crab Shack and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.
Along with earning points for every dollar spent, Landry’s Select Club members get a $25 welcome reward, a $25 annual birthday reward, priority seating, and perks like hotel discounts.
Restaurant loyalty rewards programs are a proven way to get butts in seats, strengthen your relationship with customers, and boost revenue.
Whether you go with a points-based system, set up a membership-based reward program, or use data to reward customers for supporting your business, the return makes setting up a loyalty program well worth the investment.