In the US, Grotto Pizza recently adopted the Paytronix Rewards Platform to implement a multi-tiered loyalty programme that rewards year-round diners without heavily discounting seasonal guests, with its 'Winter Wednesday' promotion producing a remarkable 84% increase in dining traffic on its slowest off-season day-of-week. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Grotto faced a challenge that troubles many such restaurants in coastal locations: with many of its locations being right on the beach, business is very seasonal with the summer months drawing big crowds while guest visits taper off significantly in the winter.

Two years ago, Grotto Pizza migrated its Swirl Rewards Club gift, loyalty and email marketing programme to the Paytronix Rewards Platform in order to create a better way to drive guest traffic during off-peak winter hours, and to increase traffic on weekday evenings. Today more than 48% of all Grotto Pizza guests are registered members of the loyalty programme, and 86% of those guests have opted in for email communications. The Swirl Rewards Club has proven a model of success, with a high rate of engagement that is well above the 15% penetration needed to make an impact.

With a strong loyalty programme in place, Grotto Pizza then was able to tackle its goal of ramping up business during the winter months. The "Winter Wednesdays" promotion offered members 50% off premium items after 4pm on Wednesdays, which are traditionally the chain's lightest traffic days in the winter. Grotto loaded the discounts directly onto guests' loyalty cards, then used Paytronix messaging to get the offer out to guests. All they had to do was come in before the offer expired at the end of the day. In just one month, the initiative enabled Grotto to:

  • Increase traffic 84% on Winter Wednesdays with these one-day offers
  • Drive a 65% increase in loyalty guest spending
  • Generate loyalty checks that even net of the discount were 10% larger on average

While Grotto Pizza's Winter Wednesday campaign was clearly successful as an effort to boost traffic during slower times, it also had an unexpected impact as enrolment in Grotto's loyalty programme tripled after the first four weeks of the promotion.

"We saw an opportunity to use our loyalty programme as a way to discount our loyal guests without leaving dollars on the table from people who would stop in only once and who would buy a pizza regardless," concluded Vinnie DiNatale, director of marketing for Grotto Pizza.