News Feature | May 6, 2015

Chili's To Launch Fully-Digital Loyalty Program

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Chili's Loyalty Program

Brinker International, the parent company of the restaurant chain Chili's, has announced their plans to develop a loyalty program later this year. The program comes as a way to celebrate Chili's 40th anniversary, and will arrive in the fourth quarter. Known as Chili's My Rewards, the loyalty program uses three ports of technology to create a complete digital experience. A transcript for the third quarter earnings call appeared on Seeking Alpha, and contained information about Chili's My Rewards, including how technology will integrate into the program.

Once Chili's My Rewards is unveiled and active, customers will have several ways to sign-up, track points, and earn rewards through the program. Chili's calls the program a “fully digital experience,” and will include integration with their Ziosk. Customers can use a mobile phone, the Chili's website, or their local restaurant's Ziosk to access the features of the program.  Chili's is also making use of the partnership they have with American Express and Ziosk, and is a tabletop tablet soon offered in Red Robin and Olive Garden. Each Ziosk is encrypted with a credit card reader, and Chili's will let guests swipe an American Express card on a Ziosk, and pay for their meal using their AMX reward points. In the earnings call, Wyman Roberts, Chili's Chief Executive Officer and President, shared details of how Chili's will be the first casual dining brand to offer this option.

“With both AMX and My Chili's Rewards programs, the guest is in full control of their own transaction without needing any server or a manager to intervene and we are looking forward to realizing the sales building potential of both these programs,” says Roberts.

Unlike other restaurant retailers which may offer a limited selection of reward options, Chili's is giving customers “their way” when it comes to rewards, and will let guests choose any menu food item within their point balance, and will let them split their check down to the item level. Chili's also says that the points will be available as long as guests dine with them once every four months. Points earned as part of the My Chili's Rewards may be redeemed without help from a server or manager through the Ziosk, similar to the process for the AMX reward points.

Chili's calls their approach “a journey to new school technology,” and in the earnings call, Roberts mentioned how the restaurant has received new POS systems, table-top devices, and now a new technology known as “NoWait” at host stands. NoWait will allow Chili's hosts to give customers accurate wait times, and text them when their table is ready. In July, Chili's will makeover their existing mobile app to let guests see the anticipated wait time, add their name to the waiting list, and then track their place in line.

“This journey to new school is about improving the guest experience and their perception of the brand. It encompasses all aspects of our business, food, service, and atmosphere. It also includes leveraging technology as an additional way to drive relevance and differentiate within the brand,” says Roberts.

Chili's will be analyzing the data from each of these engagements with technology to build an infrastructure in an effort to leverage the data as a way to offer more personalized guest experiences. Roberts says the company will “tailor the conversation to be much more specific” to what guests want, and based on this information, Chili's will make adjustments accordingly based on customers' preferences for food, dining, and drinks. The restaurant has been testing My Chili's Rewards for several months.