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The new world of loyalty

Last month, The New World Trading Company (NWTC) – The Botanist, The Florist, The Oast House, The Club House, The Canal House, The Trading House and The Smugglers Cove – launched a new loyalty scheme My New World. Available via app or card, it’s a membership programme exchanging spend for loyalty credit that guests can then redeem against future food and drink purchases. In addition, app features aim to improve guest experience with the ability to find local NWTC venues, make reservations or access key information about each venue.

With the My New World loyalty app, we made a very deliberate decision to not overcomplicate it. It has solely been built to reward customer loyalty, engage with customers-on-the-move and provide useful (and quick) functions and features while remaining on brand.

We all know the world of hospitality is ever-changing, consumer habits are ever-demanding, and technology is ever-advancing and, as a consequence, the food and beverage sector has had to evolve at a rapid speed in recent years with restaurant marketers being propelled to almost unthinkable heights. Exciting, while also challenging.

As these promotions and offers become more prevalent (and expected) among consumers, brand loyalty has earned its rightful place as a big talking topic once again. But does being loyal today truly pay off? For both brand and consumer? And how do you stand out from the crowd, when it becomes everyone’s “go to” in an already crowded-space?

Stepping outside of hospitality for a moment to put the spotlight on some big brands advocating loyalty and repeat custom, it’s no secret nor a surprise John Lewis (which boldly bases loyalty on “Never knowingly undersold”) and Amazon (which simply aims to be earth’s “most customer-centric company”) are two of the most reputable. It’s also no secret John Lewis reported a 99% drop in first-half profits this year while Amazon continue to flourish and report a year-on-year revenue increase (43%). But, what separates the two? Looking at their fundamental loyalty principles, it indicates John Lewis' heavy price match and promotions eroded margins and/or services beyond repair with no longevity while Amazon’s method suggests consumers actually favour more of the convenience, sense of belonging and simple functionality.

We believe the most valuable brand/consumer relationships are based on the perfect balance of transactional and emotional exchanges and close the gap between discounting and delivering experience.

Whether retail or hospitality, brand success lies on three main growth factors:

• retaining existing customers

• acquiring new customers

• re-engaging lapsed customers

With a multitude of messages competing for attention across channels, it appears above all consumers are looking for straightforward indicators that the marketing is trustworthy, easily understood and achievable. Online and offline touchpoints must work together to enhance the user journey and target the very needs and wants of that individual or group, to win.

After downloading the My New World app, users are encouraged to sign up or log in (using Facebook or short form), then select their most visited and preferred venue/s. Once inside, the app is used in different ways by different users depending on their interests and needs.

While the initial launch of the loyalty programme, and specifically the My New World app, has been very warm and well received so far (by guests, staff and trade) we’re still very much in the embryonic stages, so tracking data and reporting is key. We’re looking forward to a phase two launch of further enhancements in the new year, where we’ll put these insights to action.

Another lesson learned after initially launching the app was technology and having the programme itself is great, but it still very much needs people to unlock the full capabilities and drive its success – from the guest buying into it, to the server or bartender introducing it. It’s a harmonising between ops and marketing – consumers need to be served the right message at the right time while the operational team require the knowledge and buy-in to play their part in the whole experience and loyalty journey.

Although loyalty is nothing new, the NWTC loyalty programme uses the most current technology to genuinely bespoke reward and value to guests while providing insight and intelligence to the business – key to supporting our number one goal. We’re in the business of delivering memorable experiences and developing advocacy.

Restaurants and bars that are being rewarded with steady business, deliver year-on-year cover increases and are recognised as award-winning industry leaders may make it look easy but don’t be fooled; sales don’t just happen these days – it must be earned! Behind the scenes, successful brands are hard at work building solid strategies, growing key relationships and analysing data… on repeat!