Chili's unveils technology-driven loyalty program, wait lists

Chili's Grill & Bar plans to unveil a loyalty program as part of a technology rollout this quarter. The restaurant chain also plans to introduce wait lists and the redemption of American Express reward points for meals.

Chili's, which was the first casual dining brand to roll out tabletop tablets, sees technology as an important part of the brand's uniqueness, said Wyman Roberts, CEO of parent company Brinker International, during a quarterly earnings call. Soon after the move, in December of 2013, rival chain Applebee's introduced tabletop tablets at each of its 1,865 locations.

"It's really an exciting time at Chili's from a technology perspective," said Roberts, according to Nation's Restaurant News. "We've laid the foundation to drive a personalized, new-school experience, unlike other casual-dining companies."

The new loyalty program, My Chili's Rewards, offers guests a digital experience that allows them to use their phone or the website, via tablet, to sign up for the program and to track points.

Chili's has partnered with Ziosk and American Express to extend the pay-with-points system that allows guests to swipe their American Express card on an in-store Ziosk device to pay with rewards. Points will expire if they are not used within 120 days.

Last month, American Express (NYSE:AXP) announced a new customer loyalty program that attempts to give more options on the redemption front. The program will allow shoppers to rack up points with multiple select retailers and use them at participating stores.

Finally, Chili's introduced the NoWait app, which will be available starting in July. It allows restaurant hosts to give more accurate wait times and text guests when tables are ready.

For more:
-See this Nation's Restaurant News article

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