Full-service restaurants have had their fair share of loyalty companies, mobile customer management firms, and other technical partners to choose from in recent years, given the crop of tech companies that have popped into the space. What is starting to emerge more recently, though, are brands that give restaurants the ability to offer a unified experience, rather than a single, point solution.
One company offering a unified solution is HelloWorld, which has been in the digital space for 15 years and works with full-service brands including Olive Garden, Mellow Mushroom, and Bagger Dave's. "Most of the players would say, we can create the promotion experience, but you've got to talk to someone else to do mobile CRM, someone else to do your couponing—we can do all that on one platform, which we call a rich engagement platform," CEO Matt Wise explains.
Wise says it's a riveting time to be in the full-service segment of the industry, as the historic downtime waiting for the meal transitions into a 10- to 15-minute time the brand can utilize. "You're now coming into a generation where those full-service restaurants, as part of the consumer experience, are going to be filling that wait time," he says.
"It'll make a better user experience, because it's not dead time but entertained time, and that entertained time becomes an opportunity for the brand to enrich the consumer experience, to enroll the consumer in online and ongoing conversations, and bring them back into the restaurant by learning more about them."
Two examples Wise spoke to FSR about were Mellow Mushroom, which ran a promotional campaign with Coca-Cola using HelloWorld last summer, and Bagger Dave's, which uses HelloWorld for its brand-wide loyalty program.
"Mellow Mushroom and Bagger Dave's are two interesting ones, because they are not the biggest chains in the world; however, they are doing some really cutting-edge stuff," Wise says. "In my opinion, they are at the forefront of players who are using mobile to engage consumers."
The Atlanta-based pizza chain did a program called "Share Happiness" in conjunction with Coca-Cola throughout its 150-plus units. There was signage in stores for guests to participate in the program, which included a downloadable app and a Spin the Coke Bottle game on mobile devices; a table topper that advertised Coca-Cola and had a QR code that led to conversation starters and trivia questions for guests to ask amongst themselves while they waited for food; and an SMS sweepstakes offered to guests who purchased a Coca-Cola product.