As the industry pushes its way through the January blues and on into a busy Spring, loyalty seems to take top billing in the industry news this month.  Oracle’s study has found more than 50% of consumers want their loyalty programs available via mobile and Accenture’s findings indicate personalized discounts and gift cards are best at encouraging repeat business.

Loyalty programs are key for repeat guests
Oracle’s study uncovers drivers for loyalty and the impact of technology in curating a unique guest experience:

  • Loyalty programs that identify consumer habits, demographics and personalize opportunities are critical drivers for repeat business
  • 65% of US consumers are already members of 1 or more F&B program
  • 62% prefer plastic loyalty cards
  • 56% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z prefer mobile app loyalty programs
  • Money off every purchase (71%) and free products (63%) are top 2 most attractive rewards to consumers
  • 59% don’t belong to a hotel loyalty program
  • 61% want control over how they redeem their hotel points
  • 57% are interested in being able to customize their hotel experience
  • Two-thirds feel it’s very or extremely important for hotels to continue to invest in technology to enhance the guest experience
  • 71% of hotel guests would share information about food preferences/allergies


Mobile order and pay steals limelight from kiosk self-service
Hotels and restaurants have embraced self-service kiosks to strengthen their competitive standing but according to Kiosk Marketplace, mobile order and pay has stolen the limelight.  A study by Hospitality Technology Magazine indicates mobile adoption rates will surpass kiosk adoption rates this year:

  • 19% adoption for payment via table-mounted device
  • 20% for ordering via a table-mounted device
  • 36% for ordering with a guest device
  • 40% for payment with a wait-staff device
  • 43% for ordering with a wait-staff device
  • 33% of operators investing in mobile payment
  • 17% investing in R&D in tableside ordering devices
  • 7% investing in interactive kiosks


Novelty factor and convenience cited as reasons to invest in self-service kiosks
For operators, self-service kiosks promise to improve operational efficiencies, encourage guest loyalty by offering convenience and, importantly, help tackle rising wage costs.  But according to Restaurant Business, consumers remain skeptical – they want the convenience but perhaps are less enthusiastic to solve for minimum wage pressures:

  • 13% (20% of 18-44 years olds) of consumers have used a self-service kiosk to place an order
  • 41% of Millennials would be likely to use a kiosk at a limited service restaurant if available
  • 59% of consumers believe kiosk ordering will become prevalent due to minimum wage increases


Embrace mobile and understand intent to prepare for the Restaurant of the Future
Many operators are aware of the mobile-first mentality of their customers but some are unsure of where to start when building out their digital strategy.  QSR Magazine suggests:

  • Understand intent. 60% decide where to eat using their mobile.  75% haven’t decided where to dine when they start their search.  This is an opportunity for a brand to ‘create the crave’, show off your food and do it right at the point of hunger when guests are on their mobile.
  • Pick the right moment. The first thing people do in the morning is reach for their phone.  If you have a breakfast offering, this is an ideal time to engage with potential customers.  The opportunity to reach guests at the most relevant times is now possible through unique targeting capabilities of social media platforms.
  • Think local. Target customers within close radius of your stores.  For Ruby Tuesday, the impact of serving a mobile ad at the right time and place resulted in a 3.1% increase in traffic and 2.6% increase in sales. 


Speed and disjointed experience listed as reasons why digital ordering systems could let you down
Fast Casual blogger recently experienced digital ordering from 3 different brands with varying success.  Two brands offered fast, convenient service, everything you’d expect from mobile ordering.  The third was a let-down for several reasons:

  • Online ordering was cumbersome
  • When entering the store, the order was called out to be made in a rush rather than ready waiting
  • Had to sign a credit card receipt even though payment had been taken online

It seems the success of digital ordering comes from the ability to maintain context between channels as highlighted in our blog: Omni-channel” lame buzzword or the holy grail of customer experience?

Accenture finds billions wasted on loyalty efforts that bomb
A huge study by Accenture canvassing more than 25,000 consumers globally, has found more than 90% of all businesses worldwide spend money of loyalty programs that don’t achieve their goals.  The study found:

  • 66% spend more money on brands they love but 78% of them are switching loyalty to other businesses.
  • 78% switch loyalty much faster than they did 3 years ago
  • Over 50% have switched brands in the last year
  • 81% feel good about brands that get to know when and what they want
  • 59% say personalized discounts and the chance to co-create products enhance loyalty
  • 8% are turned off by brand attempts to engage them

5 approaches were found to be most successful in a bid to foster greater loyalty:

  1. Personalized discounts and gift cards
  2. Learn about individual customers, what they like and how and when to help and when to leave them alone
  3. Multi-sensory experiences with new technologies
  4. Featuring favorite celebs, bloggers and causes
  5. Exchange loyalty points through brand alliances


Voice activation spurs an ordering revolution
QSR Magazine finds voice activation is attractive to Fast Casual operators who want to help their customers make more efficient use of their time and acquire the food they want with minimal effort.  The pro of voice ordering is the convenience but the cons are the learning curve and transitioning from a visual world to one that doesn’t have a visual fallback.  While both mobile and voice ordering are convenient, they represent a different type of experience. “With a web or app experience where you have a visual user interface, you can guide the customer along the recommended path,” Chris Roeser, Domino’s Director of Digital Experience says. “This can help make it easier for them to give the required information and can also make it easier to do things like build a product that has multiple different components to it. With voice, the customer is really driving the conversation. That means we need to be smart about how we’re handling the conversation, but also incredibly flexible so that we can support their ideal ordering conversation.”