The Rise of the Full-Service Loyalty Program

April 2023

The Rise of the Full-Service Loyalty Program

While quick-service restaurants were early adopters of the loyalty program trend, full-service operations are catching up. 60% of all restaurants now offer loyalty programs, and 86% of consumers say they are interested in joining them. Let’s explore three ways full-service operators can make the most of the trend.


Digitizing Insights

Part of the drive for full-service restaurants to adopt loyalty programs is a reaction to successful third-party delivery companies and their focus on convenience and personalization. More than ever, consumers are open to engaging with brands in the digital space. Digital platforms benefit restaurants by enabling them to gather and store customer data, making it easier for users to reorder their favorite meals with one click. By leveraging this technology, operators can learn more about their patrons’ dining habits and discover ways to target customers more effectively.


Extending the Experience

Quick-service companies like Starbucks and Chipotle discovered that consumers want rewards for their patronage besides a cup of coffee or a burrito; they want experiences extending beyond the dining space. Starbucks had a record-setting first quarter of 2023 after upgrading its loyalty program in 2022 to include product and experiential benefits, including a partnership with Delta Airlines. Chipotle’s “Freepotle” program, with the chance to earn up to ten free food items in 2023, adds “surprise and delight” each time members learn of a free food drop. Full-service restaurants are uniquely poised to leverage customer experiences in their loyalty programs. Since diners visit full-service operations for more than just food, restaurants with loyalty programs that extend the experience can see noticeable returns.


Making Patrons Feel Special

Consumers perceive restaurant dining as a special occasion, and a loyalty program can capitalize on that mood. Beyond the gratification of receiving food, patrons want to feel special. Rewarding their visits with exclusive perks can increase satisfaction and the likelihood of return visits. According to FSR, Red Robin recently cited its new loyalty program as a “critical factor” in a 21% revenue jump. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, a unique and growing breakfast concept with 52 locations in nine states, has just introduced its own program. Beyond free pancakes or discounts, MySnooze Bennyfits uses a tier system with special rewards and benefits at each level, including priority waitlist seating and related swag.


The Bottom Line

As technology becomes more affordable and efficient, and consumers are more comfortable with the digital landscape, loyalty programs make it easier for even small operations to upsell and maintain customer engagement. Full-service restaurant operators can increase existing customers’ loyalties and incentivize new patrons by rewarding brand interaction with exclusive benefits, especially when considering these tips for a successful rewards program.


How would you implement a loyalty program at your operation? Share your thoughts on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages. Or visit our Resource Center for more tips and trends.



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