4 Unconventional Loyalty Perks Every Restaurant Should Consider

Cards for gifts

One of the most popular restaurant loyalty programs ideas for bringing in new business and obtaining invaluable word-of-mouth recommendations is the gift card. Most significantly, since customers pay for the cards up front, they’re an excellent way to guarantee revenue. Given to relatives, friends, and acquaintances who may not have previously eaten at your restaurant, the cards also serve as free advertising.

When creating your restaurant’s gift cards, make sure the design is unique and aligns with your brand’s image to create a memorable customer experience. Furthermore, make it easy for guests to find and use the gift card section on your website or mobile ordering app. When promoting your gift card program, use newsletters and social media to highlight its benefits and promotions.

In addition to gift cards, many restaurants implement loyalty rewards programs that allow customers to collect points towards future discounts or free items. These types of programs can be as simple or complex as you like.

For instance, a customer can get one item free after a certain number of purchases or earn “punches” towards a reward after every purchase (for example, if you buy nine cups of coffee, the tenth is on them). This loyalty rewards system allows customers to keep track of their visits and provides them with incentives to return.


Rather than offering customers a punch card to keep track of their purchases, some restaurant chains offer loyalty programs on their mobile apps that allow them to give loyal patrons perks and discounts. These are great ways to encourage customers to come back, again and again, to earn more rewards and experience more dining deals.

These programs also provide valuable customer data that restaurants can use to cross-sell and up-sell products to new and existing clients. For example, if one of your customers buys pizza but doesn’t have any garlic bread, you can suggest adding some to their order so they can enjoy it with their next purchase.

Another way to reward loyalty is by giving loyal customers exclusive discounts on menu items and other offerings that aren’t available to the general public. These promotions can help create buzz for your brand and attract media attention.

For example, a company rewarded its loyalty program members by giving them 50% off their fourth visit when they ordered its shelf-stable plant-based jerky this year. This strategy helped them get more people in the door and boost overall sales of their product. It also made their consumers feel like they were getting something unique and essential for being loyal customers.

Special Events

A special event is an activity of a temporary duration (hours or days at most), open to the general public, designed, advertised, or promoted for a specific purpose. Special events include auctions, shows, celebrations, circuses, expositions, exhibits, fairs, festivals, fundraisers, historical reenactments, movies, pageants, and parades.

These one-of-a-kind events are a popular way to engage with customers personally and build loyalty. They can be an effective marketing tool, enhancing brand recognition and encouraging recommendations through word-of-mouth.

Whether it’s an exclusive happy hour or a special freebie on your birthday, these unique perks will make loyal customers feel valued and excited about your restaurant. For example, a bar could offer extended happy hour times or add more items to its happy hour menu for members of its loyalty program.

Personalized rewards are another great way to increase customer engagement and satisfaction. According to research, 50% of table-service diners and 72% of QSR loyalty program users want restaurants to provide them with customized coupons or discounts.

A personalized menu or ordering option is also popular among these consumer segments. It can be as simple as earmarking specific tables or spots for loyalty members during busy periods, such as on special holidays or during the lunch rush. Other ways to bring personalization into the mix are hosting webinars, customer engagement summits, or contests.


Loyalty rewards programs are booming as QSR and table-service restaurants compete to attract and retain loyal customers. While loyalty reward programs are available in various formats, the best approach will depend on your specific customer base and what you’re trying to accomplish with the program.

One popular restaurant loyalty program format involves a stamps-based system whereby diners earn points every time they order food at your establishment, with higher bills earning more points. These points can be exchanged for complimentary items or discounts on the customer’s subsequent purchase. It is a simple but effective way to incentivize repeat business and boost brand awareness.

Another popular method for boosting customer loyalty is the old-fashioned punch card, whereby each item purchased earns a “punch” on the customer’s card. For example, each cup of coffee earns a “punch,” after ten purchases, the customer receives a complimentary cup of joe. This program is a good fit for cafes and bakeries, as it incentivizes frequent visits.

Gift cards and e-gift cards for VIP experiences and merchandise. The latter can be a powerful marketing tool, providing loyal customers with an exclusive experience they would likely recommend to their friends and family.