A New World of Loyalty
With wedding and graduation season closing in and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day right around the corner, consumers are once again busy searching for the perfect gift. For restaurateurs, this seasonal surge in gift-giving is the perfect opportunity to drive attention to their brands by offering unique dining experiences, intriguing new subscriptions and, of course, the perfect gift.
While the term ‘prepaid’ may only conjure images of standbys like plastic gift cards, options have evolved and restaurants large and small can now offer a range of prepaid options that not only engage consumers during the spring gifting season, but keep them coming back long after. Beyond offering exciting new gift options for consumers seeking the perfect present, prepaid options are also a boon for loyalty and strengthen restaurants’ customer relationships. In fact, 44 percent of consumers say they visit a business they would not normally have stopped at because of a gift card, and more than half (53 percent) say they visit a merchant more often after receiving a gift card, according to First Data’s 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study.
Prepaid can clearly drive brand loyalty amongst customers, but this effect isn’t limited to traditional gift cards. Newer options similarly drive loyalty by creating incentives that keep top customers coming back, and these same prepaid formats position restaurants as trendsetters offering the latest in dining experiences. To make this spring season the best yet, restaurants should consider the following strategies to make prepaid work for their brands while driving guest loyalty.
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Rethink the Traditional Gift Registry
What can you get for the couple that has everything? Restaurants can help wedding guests find the perfect present by offering prepaid experiential gifts, such as the Domino’s Wedding Registry, that provide unique options for couples who are more interested in food or experiences than the classic gravy boat gift. This is especially pertinent as consumers—and particularly millennials—become increasingly focused on experiences over material goods and products. This shift puts restaurants in an ideal position to cash in on the evolving wedding and baby registry market by offering gift-givers new options, like the gift of a unique dining experience or three months of prepaid takeout orders for time-strapped new parents.
Go Beyond the Single Sale
Prepaid gift options that provide an unlimited amount of goods or services over a specific timeframe, such as Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass, can function as marketing tools that help increase foot traffic while building diners’ loyalty. Restaurants that implement these options will also enjoy added sales beyond the original pass price as diners indulge in items not included in the prepaid program, such as drinks, desserts and, of course, gift cards so family and friends can join in on the fun.
Keep them Coming Back with Subscriptions
Product or service subscriptions are a hassle-free, personalized gift option that’s easy to send from far away or in-person. Restaurants can customize their offerings to create a fun subscription package, offering everything from food, drink and entertainment packages to private parties and catering options. The commitment of a subscription service is also a win for loyalty, as it ensures repeat visits and reduces the chance that subscribers will take their business to a competing restaurant.
Avoid Losing Revenue on Refunds
Unfortunately, every restaurant experiences hiccups. From a less-than-ideal dining experience granted gratis to a bottle of wine that’s sent back when it fails to meet a guest’s discerning taste, or even a return to a restaurant’s retail section, all restaurants will at some point encounter customers seeking a rebate. Fortunately, refunds don’t have to hurt the bottom line, as restauranteurs can turn these misses into new opportunities for future income. Rather than providing cash refunds or granting an item ‘on the house’ to make up for a mishap, restaurants can provide restitution with prepaid.
Prepaid options like gift cards and loyalty points good toward menu items can serve as great substitutes for traditional purchase credits and refunds, and allow restaurants to avoid lost revenue. Providing refunds in this format ensures that funds come back to the restaurant when a customer uses their gift card, and opens the door to added spend beyond the original prepaid amount. Plus, prepaid refunds are a welcome alternative to guests, as four out of five consumers (81 percent) are interested in receiving a gift card as purchase credit.
Ready to Get Started?
Whether they offer quick service or fine dining, thrive on foot traffic or focus on delivery, restaurants of all breeds can take advantage of the new world of prepaid. These strategies, combined with a robust program to manage new and traditional prepaid options, can help restaurants cash in on the spring gifting season and keep guests coming back for more.
Dom Morea is Senior Vice President & Head of Gift Solutions at First Data where he is responsible for leading the transformation and growth of the industry’s leading provider of branded stored value solutions. Dom is a veteran of the payments industry where he has focused on the creation and growth of enterprise-level, strategic relationships with many of the world’s largest retail, banking and technology brands. Morea was formerly SVP, Advanced Solutions & Innovation where he was responsible for leading the company’s efforts in pioneering initiatives such as: Mobile Commerce, Loyalty Solutions and heading First Data’s Innovation Labs team.