The restaurant industry was hit hard when the pandemic started. And although in most parts of the country restaurants have returned to semi-normal operations, many have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. An employee shortage and increased costs for things like face masks, partitions, and cleaning -- on top of shaky supply chains and rising food costs -- have forced many restaurants to get creative.
Certain restaurant chains have started offering unique loyalty reward programs to incentivize spending, starting with Bitcoin. This cryptocurrency has gained traction with everyday consumers all the way to major banks and entire nations like El Salvador. It appears to be on its way to being accepted as a normalized currency, which shows in its growth. It's up about 10% year over year (YOY) and over 3,800% in the past five years ago.
Grab a meal, earn Bitcoin
Several restaurants have started accepting Bitcoin for payment, including Starbucks, Burger King, and Subway. But not all of them have taken this currency alternative to the next level: loyalty rewards programs. Lanrdy's is perhaps the most notable exception in the restaurant industry. The brand has more than 500 locations across the country, including popular chains like Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Cadillac Ranch, Mortons, and Rainforest Cafe.
It's not just restaurants that have started offering redemptions for Bitcoin. Hotels like Wyndham, grocery chains like Safeway, and airline companies like Northern Pacific have all have started offering reward redemptions toward cryptocurrency. Several major credit-card reward companies have jumped on board as well. You can now even use Bitcoin for Venmo transactions or carry a rewards credit card like BlockFi Rewards Visa Signature.
Will the loyalty program work?
The entire point of loyalty rewards programs is to drive additional consumer spending for the company. The customer gets the positive interaction of "free" value from the business, and the business gets more of their spending dollars. It's a win-win. But the vast majority of points don't get used. This makes for accounting nightmares on the part of the business and, in most cases, doesn't create that good-vibe scenario of having loyal customers.
Why don't customers redeem points? It could be a "saver's" mentality, but often the reward simply isn't worth the effort. And that is where Bitcoin might shine. Offering a cryptocurrency reward gives the same freedom as cash redemptions, but instead of rewards not increasing much in value, Bitcoin has the potential to increase a lot.
It seems pretty clear at this point that Bitcoin is here to stay. It is becoming a viable form of currency that is recognized around the world, with more businesses, banks, and governments accepting it daily. The loyalty rewards scene is simply the next evolution, just like rewards programs that offer point redemptions for cash. Bitcoin loyalty reward programs offer an easy entry into what many still view as a confusing or daunting process. It allows someone who might otherwise sit on the sidelines to investment in Bitcoin without much know-how and no money out of pocket. Now that is a win-win that's hard to pass up.