Old Chicago is the craft beer authority and a proud member of the CraftWorks Holdings family, the nation’s leading operator and franchisor of brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurants. Old Chicago also boasts one of the very first restaurant loyalty programs, which has been rewarding its most loyal guests since 1978. After more than 40 years of serving up the highest quality beers, great food, and good times, Old Chicago has continued its innovative track record with its one-of-a-kind OC Rewards loyalty program that was created to bring its guests the best from both their beer and food experiences.
OC Rewards is a creative and multidimensional loyalty program that rewards customers with prizes and discounts, cultivates a community of Old Chicago advocates, and drives repeat visits. At its core, the program rewards guests one point for every dollar spent on food and beverage and five OC Bucks for every 75 points. It also has an experiential component — its famous Mini and World Beer Tours — offering guests the ultimate challenge of drinking 110 varieties of beer to earn a spot in the program’s Hall of Foam (among the highest of OC honors).
Guests who complete this amazing feat 10 times become a VIP member and are recognized with a personalized VIP Loyalty Card, a special Hall of Foam plate, and a personalized VIP beer stein they can use in the restaurant. When a guest completes their 50th World Beer Tour, they become a member of the “Super Hall of Foam.” Guests that earn VIP and Super Hall status treat Old Chicago as their local bar and a place to spend time with new and old friends. OC Rewards’ uniqueness and coveted members-only perks, prizes, and recognition have made it a customer favorite!
A need for simplicity, speed, flexibility, and scalability
What began as an innovative program had grown over time in complexity. By 2014, Old Chicago had come to realize it was time to upgrade its loyalty platform. With the amount of guest data, rules, currency, and promotions, the comprehensive scope of OC Rewards was incredibly complex to manage and the legacy loyalty system they were using was having trouble keeping up. Because OC Rewards offers members several ways to earn points, including a currency for reward redemption and an experiential component, and the 40 different state/local laws governing rewards for alcohol, choosing a vendor meant finding one that could handle this level of complexity. Being able to manage all these moving pieces more simply and quickly was a challenge and also a necessity.
The key capabilities Old Chicago needed included:
A highly scalable cloud environment
To maintain and grow the program, Old Chicago needed a solution that supported both physical and virtual cards, real-time changes, scalability to more than 100 locations, rapid configuration of location-specific rules, and extensibility for third-party integrations, future program expansion, etc.
Real-time segmentation capabilities
The OC Rewards program doesn’t just reward customers for their patronage; it creates relationships, which thrive off of personalized communications and rewards. That’s why quickly tracking guests’ behavior in order to serve up personalized offers in a timely manner as they reached new statuses within the program was so critical and required quick, actionable segmentation.
Dynamic, real-time changes
Even with the program’s success, Old Chicago recognized competition for consumers’ share of wallet is fierce in their category, so rapid innovation was paramount to continued revenue growth. Having the ability to (quickly!) create new, personalized marketing campaigns that meet the needs and wants of its customers — while sticking to its foundation — would be crucial.
A modern API-based architecture
The complex nature of the program required equally complex configurability requirements to accommodate, among other things, the programs various geographic restrictions based on food and liquor laws. Third-party integration was also crucial to get this program running smoothly.
From project initiation to design, rules set-up, program configuration, POS and order system integrations, testing, and successful rollout took just three months.
Engaged members, repeat visits, and increased sales
After an extensive search, Old Chicago chose Cheetah Loyalty as its new loyalty platform. Since its launch in 2014, the Old Chicago Loyalty Program has doubled its contribution to sales and now contributes over 30% of total sales. Loyalty program analytics reveal that OC Reward members visit more frequently and highly engaged members spend more per check.
Over 9,000 members have completed VIP Status and over 120,000 individual World Beer Tours have been completed in the past four years. When surveying its most loyal guests, three themes stand out on why they keep coming back to Old Chicago.
- They love the challenge that the World Beer Tour presents and the prizes and recognition that come with it.
- They love the people that they meet when completing the Tours — from servers, to bartenders, to managers, to fellow guests.
- They love that Old Chicago is able to offer them beers that they can’t get anywhere else and that the program encourages them to explore beers that would not necessarily be in their comfort zone.
We understood from day one that if guests don’t earn credit properly, then the program will lose credibility. This is why having a technology partner like Cheetah Digital that can run the complex rules of the World Beer Tour program while also being able to adapt to additional changing requirements has been instrumental to our program’s success. Thanks to Cheetah Digital we’re now able to quickly evolve historical campaigns to make them fresh and new and are successfully meeting all of the requirements and expectation of our guests on the loyalty program front.
Leveraging Cheetah Loyalty for a quick, competitive edge
With Cheetah Loyalty, Old Chicago was able to quickly and painlessly replace its current legacy solution to meet current and future needs. It provides ongoing monitoring, refinement, and improvement of the OC Rewards program and marketing/engagement tactics. In addition, the Cheetah Loyalty solution has demonstrated a level of reliability and performance required by Old Chicago.
More than 2 million OC Reward members, along with all their preferences and activity history, were seamlessly and rapidly moved to the Cheetah Loyalty solution with no disruption to guests or restaurant staff.
With Cheetah Loyalty in place, OC is poised to continue to redefine the world of restaurant loyalty programs, delighting its most loyal customers and building its community of faithful followers.
- Loyalty members account for 30% of revenue
- 8.3% year-over-year increase in loyalty sales in 2018
- >9,000 VIP members
- >120,000 World Beer Tours completed in last 4 years