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Marketing

Chili's simplifies loyalty program with every-visit rewards

All members will get something free when they visit a store.

Chili’s has sweetened its loyalty program with a promise to provide members with a freebie every time they visit.

Any guest who belongs to My Chili’s Rewards will be given the choice during a visit of getting free chips and salsa or a complimentary nonalcoholic beverage. In tests, customers were about equally divided in what they chose, according to Chili’s.

The offer is intended to give customers a break from having to calculate what rewards they’ve earned with their frequency credits. “We heard the feedback loud and clear that loyalty programs feel too complicated, so what would keep them coming back is to make things simple,” Chili’s said in adding the every-visit perks on March 19.

“The reality is a loyalty program is a way of saying 'Thank you' to our guests for being one of their top dining options, and we weren't doing a good job of that until now," said Steve Provost, the casual chain’s chief marketing and innovation officer.

Tests of the new benefit began last August, Chili’s revealed.

The change follows Chili’s withdrawal from the Plenti rewards network. A partnership with that third-party program enabled My Chili’s Rewards members to redeem points in certain retail stores and gas stations. Conversely, customers of other participating businesses could redeem their frequency credits for items on Chili’s menus.

The last year or so has prompted a number of restaurant chains to roll out or update their loyalty programs, often in conjunction with the introduction of a new smartphone app or the addition of delivery.

The competition for members has brought such added enticements as allowing patrons to use their credits for free Lyft rides, in the case of Starbucks, or redeem their points in any of a company’s restaurants, in the instance of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill parent Bloomin’ Brands.

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