Like many businesses, we utilize our data to drive our business. We use it to continually improve our dining loyalty program, which in turn, improves the success rates of our program restaurants. We understand consumer consumption and we use that understanding to improve upon it.
We also use the data to make sure that our loyal members are engaged in the program and that they are benefitting from it. The data tells us that members use our emails and our websites (88%), that they actively search for program restaurants (91%), and that they have an interest in earning the currency of their program (91%), according to members who responded to a recent survey.
But one may wonder if this data is really illustrative of what is happening in the consumer marketplace. We spoke with one of our loyal program members, “Isaac F.,” to learn more about what he, as a frequent diner and traveler, is looking for in a dining loyalty program, what he found using our websites, and why our program works for him.
Rewards Network (RN): Which program did you sign up for and why did you choose it?
Isaac: I’m a member of SkyMiles® Dining. I have my own marketing and consulting business, so I travel a lot and I dine out a lot. I read about the dining loyalty program and the new member bonus for joining on one of my flights, and it was a very attractive offer. I can earn miles not just by flying but by dining out, both of which I need to do often for my business. Honestly, I was nervous at first about registering my credit card with a third party vendor but I ultimately trusted the security and the payoff was definitely worth it. It’s a seamless way to earn miles.
RN: Do you typically seek out restaurants in SkyMiles Dining?
Isaac: Yes, everywhere. It’s kind of like an adventure now. I rely heavily on the mobile app. It’s the coolest thing – I can land at the airport, jump on my phone, and it tells me credible restaurants to visit, rated by a community of people just like me.
On my last trip I found a neat little local diner called Sam’s #3 in Denver. It was incredible and I wouldn’t have known about it if it weren’t for the app. It was cool, hip 1950’s meets 2013, I think it was even on “Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives” on Food Network. The app found me a fun, popular, and hip place to eat that was in budget. I would have never known how to find that place in a city I just landed in.
RN: So, you’re pretty happy with the restaurants you can find on the SkyMiles Dining program
Isaac: From a quality standpoint, yes, but I wish more restaurants were on the program. I seek out these restaurants wherever I travel, who wouldn’t? My first choice is always a program restaurant. I hope in the future you can also add more chains. Like I said, I love finding local places, and I feel like they probably benefit a lot from the SkyMiles Dining program because of people like me. But I think a combination of both would make the program choices more rounded. I think chains would really benefit from the mobile app.
RN: When searching for restaurants, you mentioned ratings. Are reviews and ratings an important factor when choosing a restaurant?
Isaac: Yes, and I think other people on the program are really honest in their reviews. I still look at Yelp and other sites, but it’s a big selling point that program restaurant reviews are a trusted source from people in the dining program community. I think most people on the program are probably like me, so I trust it. And I find clean places, good places, good food and good ambiance. It works.
RN: Do you give reviews, then?
Isaac: Yes. I love the fact that the reviews go straight to the restaurant owner and they can respond. I actually had a bad experience at a program restaurant recently; I thought it was a little dirty and loud for my tastes. I gave a really honest review of the experience and the restaurant owner wrote back and “saved face” by explaining what had happened that night and why I should come back to give it another chance. It wasn’t the norm for them and he had a chance to tell me why. That’s powerful.
That tool gives me an opportunity to connect with the restaurateur and gives them a chance to write back in a civil fashion, and they can be gracious and respond. When else do busy restaurants really get the chance to hear a customer out? And where else does a customer have a safe environment to give feedback?
RN: I have to ask, honestly, do you find yourself spending more to get more miles?
Isaac: I do spend more to get the miles – easy justification! I was just at a lunch meeting with a client at a buffet restaurant, I had water, but I ordered a drink because I knew I’d get a couple extra miles. Why not? I know that doesn’t sound like it is a big difference, but it adds up for me, and I would imagine it does for the restaurant, too. That extra $3 dollars would really add up if, say, 10 people a day did that, seven times a week. And think about what that means if with the next person it’s a $10 or $12 glass of wine instead? I would imagine that really adds up for them, right?
RN: Any other thoughts on the program?
Isaac: Often, when I’m out to eat, I think, “If they were part of the network, I’d go back more.” When I have a good experience I can’t help but think, “Why aren’t they part of my SkyMiles Dining program?”
For someone like me who travels a lot and expenses a lot, I cherish the opportunities to earn miles, especially for things I need to do, like dine out on the road. I immediately started using the SkyMiles Dining program and probably would have dined at even more program restaurants if I knew sooner that I could be getting up to five miles at the next level.
And remember, the more you are rewarded, the more likely you are to return. The more loyal the program is to you, the more loyal you will be to the program.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Isaac. Thanks for being a loyal fan and a loyal diner. And thanks for giving us the check point that,” yes, the data is in line!”
If you want to learn more about how your restaurant can attract loyal diners, Contact Rewards Network today.