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TGI Fridays outpaces QSR competition with Messenger-enabled reservation bookings

TGI Fridays is enabling diners to engage in round-the-clock interactions with the chain via Facebook Messenger and make online reservations on the social platform, a first for the quick-service restaurant sector.

The casual dining chain is teaming up with enterprise platform Conversable to offer round-the-clock interaction to guests via Facebook Messenger, underscoring the growing role that social media has in mobile commerce initiatives. Consumers will also be able to take advantage of a new capability to streamline their restaurant-going experiences – making online reservations through Messenger.

“We’ve already seen great success in providing reservations to guests,” said Sherif Mityas, vice president of strategy and brand initiatives at TGI Fridays. “Fridays’ heritage is all about bringing people together for a good time over great food – so it was a natural progression from first providing call-ahead reservations, to becoming the first casual dining restaurant to offer reservations at select restaurants via Facebook Messenger.

“When we first started to allow reservations in restaurant, we saw a significant increase in larger parties booking tables,” he said. “We listened to our guests’ feedback and what we heard was a desire to plan ahead for larger events.

“With reservations, we are making it more convenient for guests to choose Fridays as their celebratory events or friends and family gathering destination by guaranteeing a place at the table without wait. By bringing in larger parties, and more guests through online reservations, we are seeing signification improvements in frequency and party size.”

On-the-go reservations
Consumers who choose to interact with TGI Fridays through its Facebook Messenger bot will also be able to book dining reservations.

This new capability may result in a surge in the amount of online reservations TGI Fridays sees, since guests will not be required to pick up the phone and speak to an on-site host or hostess about booking a table.

The ease of procuring a reservation with just a few keyboard strokes could easily culminate in higher revenue for TGI Fridays, especially during peak dining times, such as weekends.

The restaurant chain will continue working with Conversable to expand these booking capabilities and also enable guests to place orders through Facebook, Kik and Twitter.

The collaboration will also aim to let customers order Fridays’ menu items for delivery via social channels.

“We can’t speak for all of casual dining, but our partnership with Conversable matches the core of the TGI Fridays DNA as a social brand,” Mr. Mityas said. “Our guests want a good time on demand.

“Our effort is to make sure that the Fridays experience extends to the places where our guests are naturally interacting, whether they’re inside or outside the physical walls of our restaurants.”

Additionally, fans of TGI Fridays can converse with the brand via Facebook Messenger regarding common questions, such as finding their nearest restaurant. The conversation may include several emojis as well – which will take the form of well-known Fridays appetizers.

TGI Fridays is advertising its latest digital commerce efforts with its premier Facebook Live event this month. It will broadcast live from the company’s headquarters in Dallas.

A mobile-connected future
To boost awareness for its new mobile ordering options, TGI Fridays is inviting consumers to visit its application or site to receive 20 percent off all orders through the end of October. The promotional code is FRIDAYS20.

Individuals who take advantage of this deal by October 16 will receive double loyalty points if they are members of the Fridays Rewards program.

They will also be entered into a sweepstakes with a $10,000 prize.

Placing an emphasis on easy ordering and reservation-booking solutions – such as Facebook Messenger – will likely help many quick-service restaurant chains garner a wider fan base of digitally-connected millennial consumers.

For instance, Pizza Hut recently ramped up competition with Domino’s extensive mobile ordering capabilities by capitalizing on the growing interest in conversational commerce with a chatbot for ordering food delivery (see story).

Chicken wing restaurant chain Wingstop also introduced a push on Twitter and Facebook in which users can place orders and complete purchasing directly within the message thread in a reflection of how marketing and conversational platforms are merging together (see story).

“Upgrading our digital presence allows for greater personalization in how we reach our guests, and what offers we give them,” Mr. Mityas said. “We like to think that we aren’t talking to all guests at once through digital, but rather offering tailored interactions for each individual guest.

“Through our partnership with Conversable, our approach is all about personalization and exemplary service,” he said. “For some guests, that could be through value-driven offers, while others may be motivated by the latest new menu item or our unique Fridays atmosphere.

“Regardless of their personal preference, we want to encourage all guests to experience the new online ordering platform via the Fridays mobile app or, and therefore are offering 20 percent off all online orders with the code FRIDAYS20 through the end of October.”