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National Restaurant Association - Reward guests, boost business, do good

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Reward guests, boost business, do good

When Tommy Bahama restaurants joined Dine Out for No Kid Hungry last year, company leaders wanted guests to feel rewarded when contributing to hunger relief.

“We wanted to give them something that was more valuable than what they were going to give us," says Rob Goldberg, executive vice president, restaurants and marketing, Tommy Bahama Group.

The Seattle-based company offered $20 “Charity Award Cards” to guests who donated $5 to Share Our Strength’s month-long Dine Out campaign. “You just have to come back and use the money,” Goldberg says.

The plan worked. Tommy Bahama’s 13 restaurants raised $50,000 in 30 days for No Kid Hungry. The following month, the restaurants recorded $200,000 in incremental revenue, thanks to a 60 percent redemption rate of the gift cards. Guests didn’t just return, redeem the cards and leave. They brought friends – and spent more, Goldberg says.

This year, the company’s 140 retail stores joined the campaign. By mid-September, more than 80 percent of transactions included a donation to No Kid Hungry. Customers can donate, and receive and redeem charity award cards online. Restaurants and stores also have sold thousands of rubber No Kid Hungry bracelets for $1 each, Goldberg says.

Halfway through September, the company surpassed its 2014 goal. “There are close to 20,000 gift cards out there,” Goldberg says. “There could be 40,000 by the end of the month.”

The campaign works because of employee buy-in. Each day, Tommy Bahama managers email their teams with different facts about hunger. The messages help educate and engage the 4,000 employees companywide, including 1,500 in the restaurant division. The company also engages customers through Facebook and Twitter.


As a result, the restaurant and retail locations have become “brutally competitive,” Goldberg says. Each location has a different goal, based on size. Daily emails report the results. “Nobody wants to be last.”

Top photo: The Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar team in Kierland Commons in North Scottsdale, Ariz. Second photo: The Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar team in Midtown Manhattan (Fifth Avenue at 45th Street).


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