More than three-quarters of restaurant operators recently surveyed by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said guest loyalty programs helped grow business during the economic downturn. In addition, 90 percent said loyalty programs give them a competitive edge, and the vast majority said they are planning to invest more in their programs because of their proven ability to drive business growth.

The NRA partnered with Loyalty 360--The Loyalty Marketer's Association and rDialogue for its first-ever study of the level of penetration of loyalty programs in the restaurant industry; the types of loyalty practices being used; how performance is being measured; and the level of dedicated resources supporting strategy, implementation, and management of the programs. The survey, conducted earlier this year, had 1,300 respondents.

Additional survey results found that 41 percent of respondents currently operate a loyalty program, and nearly half (47 percent) are planning to launch one. Moreover, 74 percent of respondents use social media to support their loyalty program such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging.

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