How to build an omnichannel loyalty scheme: 5 tips from Hostech 2023

Cafes & Coffee Shops, Casual Dining & Quick-Service, Digital Ordering, Industry trends, Latest from Vita Mojo, Products

February 15, 2023

Omnichannel loyalty schemes: guests expect them, brands grow with them, so naturally hospitality operators want to deliver them. 

Speaking at the Hostech Conference 2023, Burger King’s Director of Digital Tim Love reported that Burger King restaurants using their omnichannel loyalty scheme outperform the rest of the system.

“Stores with higher loyalty participation have experienced higher average restaurant sales growth,” he said. 

But building and launching a successful loyalty scheme that works consistently across all your channels is no small feat. 

Read on to learn five essential tips for a successful omnichannel loyalty programme, coming to you straight from the industry experts at Hostech 2023. 

1. Set clear goals and definitions for loyalty success

Like any strategy, your first step with loyalty should be establishing exactly what you want to achieve. How will you define and measure success? 

It might be a clear exercise in increasing footfall and ATV, as it was for Chopstix. “We want more people to come through the door and we want to increase spend,” said Chopstix’s Marketing Director Rob Burns

Taiwanese restaurant group BAO wanted to use their loyalty scheme to increase the number of guests visiting more than one of their restaurants:. 

“The average user has visited 1.2 locations. If the loyalty app could drive the average user to have visited two or more of our sites, that would be a real win for us.” – David Staley, digital director, BAO

Success might also be centred around brand affinity and guest interaction. For Mark Lilley, CEO of Abokado, one of the key objectives of loyalty has been to become a part of customer’s lives “outside of being somewhere you’ve heard about once or just seen. Somewhere that you want to be.”

“That kind of real world outcome is the goal. Growing a larger portion of our audience into people who feel a personal connection with the brand that they want to experience as much of our world as possible outside of the restaurant.”

Whatever outcomes are best for your business, it’s important to decide these at the first stage and measure them throughout.

Rob Burns (Chopstix), David Staley (BAO) and Mark Lilley (Abakado) - Hostech panel hosted by Nick Liddle, commercial director of Vita Mojo

2. Centralise your tech stack to build an omnichannel customer journey

Customer journey

The best omnichannel loyalty scheme exists across all of your ordering channels, from your app and online ordering through to your in-store kiosks and POS. 

“From my perspective, omnichannel means the ability of our customers to move fairly seamlessly between any part of the universe, and to do so without any value trade off.”

Loyalty is no exception. 

When earning or redeeming points, users should understand and recognise the process regardless of the channel they’re using. Customers don’t want a fragmented experience between a kiosk and an app. Branding and customer journey should be seamless as they jump from one to the other.

But the process of maintaining one customer journey across channels can grow overcomplicated when you have to deal with fragmented systems, as Tim Love from Burger King described:

"We have quite a lot of disparate systems. In some of our restaurants we’re able to offer loyalty at counter, kiosk and with mobile ordering, whereas in some we only offer loyalty on mobile ordering.

So what we ended up doing was designing different customer journeys based on if you're in a restaurant with a full solution, or just mobile ordering if that’s all the location supported. We really managed, in some respects, to overcomplicate that customer UX."

Your tech stack

Consistent customer journey is much easier to deliver with a fully integrated tech stack

Working with one tech provider means your entire operation exists on a single platform, including all your digital ordering channels and loyalty setup.

Instead of the headache of juggling separate systems, you can update all your channels at once from the same place. 

Rosie Hill explained how GAIL’s Bakery moved away from a “Frankenstein monstrosity of a tech stack, with bolt on after bolt on”, to managing digital ordering, kitchen management and delivery integrations with one provider.

“We broke away from our rickety old platform and onto Vita Mojo…this was a really important landmark in our timeline.”
Rosie Hill speaking at Hostech 2023

With all your order channels and reporting existing in one platform, creating an omnichannel customer journey suddenly seems a lot more do-able.

Want to chat with an expert about how you can move your operation to one platform?

Book a bespoke, 15-minute consultation to see how your business would benefit from a single operating system.👇

3. Be prepared to gather (and use) a lot of new data

One of the significant benefits operators enjoy from omnichannel loyalty schemes is a wealth of new customer data. This can then be utilised in a host of ways within the loyalty programme itself.

CEO of Abokado Mark Lilley commented on the importance of being able to see demographics, frequency of visits, location of visit, and basket size data thanks to the new data from their loyalty channels.

This is where a well structured data setup comes into play. 

Operators need to be prepared with a strong data acquisition strategy to gather all the intel captured from a loyalty scheme without getting overwhelmed by it.

Again, this is where a fragmented tech stack will bog you down. 

Ideally, all your data will stream into one reporting platform, giving you an omnichannel view of your customer base. From here, you can make data-backed decisions and tweak your loyalty strategy accordingly.

"The setup you have sitting behind your products and platforms is really what enables this kind of marketing activity. It’s the starting point in order to identify customer trends from actions within the platform, and then tailoring that experience to that individual.

You need a really strong tech stack and you need people who understand the events being triggered by the customers."

4. Personalisation is key

According to McKinsey Research presented at the Hostech Conference by Tim Love , 71% of consumers expect personalisation, and 76% of consumers get frustrated when they don’t find it.

Driven by all the data they provide, digital loyalty schemes are perfectly placed to offer valuable personalisation that persists across channels.

Rather than a basic recognition of who a customer is from one channel to another, they can provide personalised content, product suggestions and upsells based on rich customer data. 

You might use this to promote only vegetarian or vegan products to customers who have identified themselves as plant-based, send special loyalty rewards on their birthday, tailor their reward suggestions to dishes they have shown a preference for. The possibilities really are endless. 

But Tim was keen to encourage operators not to get carried away with personalisation, and end up putting off customers by coming on too strong. 

"You need a clear personalization plan of attack. Recognizing where efforts should be concentrated whilst ensuring you don't over personalise and give that sense of intrusion. You also need to avoid driving personalization fatigue where people get sick of giving information."

5. Use loyalty to stay connected with customers

Loyalty can give customers more reasons to interact frequently with digital platforms, rather than just when they make a purchase. Operators can take advantage of this to build affinity and engagement.

“We have tens of thousands of members in our loyalty scheme and that’s growing exponentially.

Every time they receive a reward they get a text, if they haven’t used it within two weeks they get a prompt. We’re staying front of mind with our customers in a way we never were able to before, so much more effectively than email.”

Marketing Director of Chopstix Rob Burns explained how the brand is using loyalty in this way to change customer behaviour and shift their perception of Chopstix. 

“For me it’s about us becoming a brand of choice rather than a brand of convenience. Do we come into people’s mindset before they walk out of a train station or into a shopping centre? Can we exist outside of our four walls.”

Omnichannel loyalty is easier with the right tech partner behind you. Book a chat with one of our hospitality tech experts below for a rundown of how digital loyalty could work across all your channels, without the headache of multiple platforms.

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