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TGI Fridays deploys chatbot on Facebook Messenger

TGI Fridays deploys chatbot on Facebook Messenger

Casual-dining chain also tests social media reservations

TGI Fridays is deploying a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that will answer customer questions, as well as offer reservations capabilities at some restaurants, the company said Tuesday.

The Dallas-based casual-dining operator said the chatbot will answer common customer queries, such as where to find the nearest TGI Fridays restaurant, and allow users to make reservations at select restaurants, a program that will be expanded.

“Today’s guests live in a digital world, spending large amounts of time interacting with friends and family on social platforms, and we want to meet them in the places they’re already engaging,” said Sherif Mityas, TGI Fridays vice president for strategy and brand initiatives.

“Chatbot technology will allow us to engage with our guests in a more personal way, providing real-time responses from Fridays, whether they want to get on a reservation list, find the closest restaurant or find out what the most popular cocktail is at their Fridays,” Mityas said in response to emailed questions.

TGI Fridays is partnering with Dallas-based Conversable, which has worked with Wingstop and Pizza Hut to create conversational ordering platforms.

“This matches very well to the core of the TGI Fridays DNA as a social brand,” Mityas said. “Guests come to Fridays to enjoy time with family and friends over great food and drinks. Our effort is to make sure that Fridays experience extends to the places our guests are naturally interacting, which means we’re extending the ways guests can interact with our brand, whether they’re inside or outside the physical walls of our restaurants.”

Later this fall, TGI Fridays will expand its online reservations capabilities and offer online orders via social media channels. Eventually, the company expects to layer in delivery.

“We will continue to expand the opportunities for our guests to interact with us on various social and digital platforms,” Mityas said. “For example, our partnership with Conversable will extend beyond answering guest questions and taking reservations, to online ordering and additional conversational capabilities.”

TGI Fridays’ chatbot will debut on Facebook Messenger, and the company expects it to expand to Twitter and the messaging platform Kik, which is popular among younger people.

“Fridays attracts a wide variety of guests, from Millennials to Boomers, to everyone in between,” Mityas said. “Today, there’s not one single platform that matches where our guests are interacting. Kik is one of the fastest-growing social platforms for Millennials, so we’re excited to launch Fridays there soon; and we’re also looking forward to additional platforms that may make sense for Fridays as we continue to expand our digital footprint.”

To highlight its commitment to digital platforms, this month TGI Fridays will host its first Facebook Live “Happy Hour to Go,” streaming live from company headquarters in Dallas and featuring the chain’s bartenders.
TGI Fridays is also incentivizing the use of its smartphone app and website through the end of October by offering 20 percent off online orders with the code FRIDAYS20. In addition, customers who place orders online through Oct. 16 will receive double points in the brand’s loyalty program, Fridays Rewards.

Fridays has more than 900 restaurants in 60 countries.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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