Chili’s Grill & Bar is offering guests free chips and salsa or a free non-alcoholic drink on every visit as it pulls out of the American Express Co.’s Plenti program, the company announced Monday.
“The reality is a loyalty program is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our guests for being one of their top dining options, and we weren’t doing a good job of that until now,” said Steve Provost, chief marketing and innovation officer for the division of Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., in a statement about the new My Chili’s Rewards.
Chili’s had moved its in-house Chili’s program with the coalition-based Plenti loyalty platform in 2016, but the Brinker division recently pulled out of Plenti along with the department store Macy’s.
“After May 3, 2018, Macy's and Chili's will no longer participate in the Plenti program,” the Plenti program says on its website. Collection of Plenti points ended March 15.
A Chili’s spokeswoman said Plenti users could redeem points on eligible purchases at participating Chili’s restaurants through May 3 but the earning of points was discontinued on March 15.
“After these dates, available Plenti points earned with Chili’s can be redeemed for savings on eligible purchases with the remaining partners in the Plenti program,” she said.
Chili’s said customer feedback indicated the rewards program was too complicated, so it worked to simplify it with the My Chili’s Rewards platform.
In loyalty program tests that started in August 2017, the company said, about 50 percent of My Chili’s Rewards members opted for free chips and salsa and the other half chose a non-alcoholic beverage.
In the second quarter ended Dec. 27, Brinker reported net income of $25.4 million, or 54 cents a share, compared to $34.6 million, or 69 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue in the quarter was $766.4 million compared to $771 million in the year-ago period.
Chili's company-owned same-store sales declined 1.5 percent in the second quarter. Chili's U.S. franchise comparable restaurant sales fell 1.7 percent in the period.
As of Dec. 27, Brinker owned and franchised 1,682 restaurants, including 1,630 Chili’s and 52 Maggiano’s.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless