IHOP Announces Xbox Rewards as Restaurants Explore Cross-Brand Loyalty


As restaurants work to drive frequency and build brand affinity, many are looking to reward consumers with deals and perks that extend beyond their menus. IHOP, for one, the Glendale, California-based casual dining breakfast chain with more than 1,700 locations around the world, announced Monday (Aug. 22) that it has partnered with Xbox to make gaming rewards available to the brand’s “International Bank of Pancakes” rewards program.

Specifically, the Dine Brands-owned breakfast chain is offering members of its loyalty program a one-month free trial of subscription offering Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a bundle of Premium Add-Ons for racing video game Forza Horizon 5 and download codes for survival video game Grounded. In the news release, the casual dining brand noted that the gaming company is its “first loyalty program partner,” hinting at intentions to explore further such partnerships in the future.  The program’s typical rewards include free pancakes and other menu items.

This cross-brand rewards offering enables the brand to extend its reach to parts of consumers’ daily routines beyond just their dining occasions. PYMNTS research finds that top-performing brands are those that can engage with consumers across the pillars of the connected economy — how they work, pay and are paid, shop, eat, bank, travel, connect with others, have fun, stay well and live. The Xbox offering extends IHOP’s loyalty app beyond just eating and payment to how they connect with others and have fun.

Read more: How Consumers Live in the Connected Economy

IHOP is not the first restaurant chain to explore cross-brand loyalty opportunities. In October of 2021, Kevin Johnson, then-CEO of Starbucks, the world’s largest restaurant brand by revenue, noted that the company was looking into linking the coffeehouse’s loyalty program to other brands’ rewards.

“Through blockchain or other innovative technologies, we are exploring how to tokenize Stars and create the ability for other merchants to connect their rewards program to Starbucks Rewards,” Johnson told analysts on a call. “This will enable customers to exchange value across brands, engage in more personalized experiences, enhance digital services and exchange other loyalty points for Stars at Starbucks.”

See also: Starbucks Looks to Double-Dip Loyalty With Blockchain-Enabled Cross-Brand Rewards

He cited the example of the chain’s partnership with Air Canada, launched in March 2021, by which the airline’s rewards members are able to “double-dip” on rewards, earning loyalty points for both the airline and the coffeehouse with purchases at participating Starbucks locations.

Starbucks has not shared an update on this effort since those comments, but on an earnings call earlier this month, current interim CEO Howard Schultz hinted at an upcoming “Web 3-enabled initiative” that will offer “a broader set of rewards, including one-of-a-kind experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Similarly, in an interview with PYMNTS, Karl Goodhew, chief technology officer of North Palm Beach, Florida-based fast-casual brand BurgerFi, which has over 100 locations in the United States and abroad, noted that the company’s trial of a payment card could give insight into where else chain’s customers shop, which could “unlock” partnership opportunities.

Related news: Home Depot, Macy’s Become Customer Loyalty Models for Florida Burger Chain

“We never know what kind of data that’s going to unravel,” Goodhew said.