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All you need to know about digital loyalty schemes

Dan Brookman

Written by Dan Brookman

1st December 2022

Dan Brookman, CEO of Digital Loyalty Company Airship, part of Zonal, shares his thoughts on how to boost business this winter.

Have you ever wondered whether digital loyalty schemes really deliver?

After years of working in partnership, Zonal acquired digital loyalty company Airship and Toggle a few months ago, immediately unlocking new ways for operators to increase profits, grow their loyal customer base and provide a smoother, more connected customer journey.

The man who knows everything there is to know about gift cards, Airship CEO Dan Brookman, remains at the helm, and here he addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about how bounce-back deals, vouchers and personalisation can help boost takings in January and beyond.

Are promotions and bounce-back deals the best way to drive business in January?

The start of the year is all about grabbing market share after christmas and getting customers to revisit your business rather than having a prolonged absence. For some time, hospitality businesses have used various marketing methods to drive footfall and spend in-venue, such as January bounce-back or New Year sales, and consumers have come to expect them. If an operator doesn’t offer it, they risk losing their competitive advantage.

What is key to success is making sure you get in early with your customers – so you should be promoting these deals early. Let customers know that it’s coming, be clear on the dates it will be valid for and keep it simple, don’t add too many terms and conditions. If you can, don’t keep promotions limited to a particular day of the week or an hour of the day either, so it’s easy to claim.

loyalty scheme eating out

What’s a compelling offer, is 10% off enough?

Be generous, as there is a lot of competition out there! Think a minimum of 25%, potentially up to 50%, if you were doing a Monday to Thursday offer. Don’t forget the importance of a stored value, so rather than a discount, consider actually giving people money in advance. One of the best things that are a benefit during January and February is giving a £10 or £5 voucher to customers in your database, with the onus being on that this has to be spent in January. These kind of offers often have high levels of redemption, as those customers who were questioning whether to dine out or not will be more incline to do so with money off. They’re able to enjoy the experience at a cheaper price, when in turn builds up brand loyalty.

What’s the most effective mechanic in your experience?

Across the board, one of the most effective methods we have seen is operators marketing to their database with a 50% off food and drink, with no terms and conditions attached. Every time somebody redeems one of the vouchers, they are sent another to follow. So, it’s about re-targeting the customers that do use their vouchers and drive revisits, increasing efficiency and spend-per-head. Of course, it’s not a one-stop shop for all, and every operator and their customer base are different. It’s about finding the right technology that retrieves the correct data, which means you can then offer a tailored approach to fit your audience.

People enjoying a drink

How can businesses make the most out of these deals to build customer loyalty?

Businesses that go a step further through making their promotions personalised specifically to their customer base, will ensure repeat service. We know this works. Research has shown that 81% of consumers expect personalisation, wanting to receive promotions and deals. It’s basic psychology: people are more likely to visit again if they get free stuff and that’s not about to stop in 2023. Data is key to this; in order to offer great deals, you need to know your customers, and for this you need data.

Through technology such as an EPoS system, hospitality operators can create or import voucher codes for the redemption of promotions or discounts during the payment process or at the point-of-sale. This helps in incentivising additional spend and increasing the frequency of visits through tactical promotions and offers. Triggered voucher codes can be issued to thank customers for their loyalty or distributed to prospective customers. This integration allows operators to capture and analyse valuable customer data with every transaction including what they’ve ordered, how much it costs, and how frequently they have visited. This information will help in building an effective and personalised digital loyalty scheme suited to customer needs.


With so many loyalty programmes out there, building a scheme that’s right for your business isn’t always easy. For more information about how we can help you with digital loyalty schemes, please visit our loyalty programmes page here.

Dan Brookman

By Dan Brookman

Dan is CEO of Airship & Toggle which joined the Zonal Group in 2022. Launched in 2013, Airship is the UK hospitality’s leading CRM and customer engagement platform. In 2018, Dan created Toggle, so operators could boost revenues through online sales of gift cards and experiences. With more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Dan is hugely passionate about helping operators drive ROI through data, loyalty and technology.

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