IHOP unveils its first loyalty program, the Banque Internationale des Crêpes
IHOP thinks its pancakes are so valuable that it turns them into cash.
The family restaurant chain unveiled its first loyalty program on Wednesday, called International Bank of Pancakes. Customers who open an account with the “bank” will be able to earn points, or Pancoins, with every order and redeem them for free food.
The chain said the program would allow it to reward customers while building relationships with them. This coincides with a revamped IHOP app and website intended to make ordering and customization easier for customers.
Here’s how the program will work: Customers can open an IBOP account in the IHOP app. After that, they will earn one Pancoin for every $5 spent at the restaurant. Once they’ve earned three Pancoins, they can redeem them in the in-app “Stack Market” for a coupon that entitles them to free food, like a small stack of pancakes, a burger, or a burrito . Customers will need the IHOP app to use the program.
The chain will use transaction data to generate marketing offers for customers based on what they have ordered in the past.
“The purpose of us introducing the International Pancake Bank, our premier loyalty program, is to reward and engage our customers and build a relationship with them,” said IHOP CMO Kieran Donahue.
The mechanics of the program will be supported in part by new pay-at-the-table technology. Restaurant customers can scan a QR code with their phone to pay their bill, which will automatically add Pancoins to their account. If they choose to pay the old-fashioned way, they’ll receive a receipt (aka a “deposit slip”) with a code and barcode to collect their reward points. Delivery and pickup orders will also earn Pancoins.
Donahue said the channel wanted to have fun with the cryptocurrency trend when designing the program, which is how she landed on the bank motif. Pancoins are not real cryptocurrencies and can only be used within the program.
“At the same time, our pancakes, we consider that they have value, that they could in fact become their own currency,” she said.
The chain also wanted to simplify the administration of the program for restaurant staff. When customers are ready to redeem Pancoins for food, the app generates a coupon code which they show to the waiter, similar to how IHOP handles regular coupons.
“It was actually part of the design and feedback from our franchisees, how can we make it something they already know?” said Donahue.
Some loyal fans will have early access to the program starting today. They will become “founding members” of the International Pancake Bank and will receive a sign-up bonus of 10 pancoins as well as free delivery and other benefits.
The program will go live in restaurants in early April, Donahue said.
Loyalty programs have been sweeping the restaurant industry in recent years as brands seek to increase frequency and collect better data about their customers. And customers have shown a willingness to sign up: About 80% of adults said they would be likely to join a loyalty program if it was offered by a local restaurant, according to the 2022 State of the Industry Report of the National Restaurant Association.
Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all our content. Register here.