RW losing restaurants in Seattle and SF?

Old Feb 1, 16, 11:41 am
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RW losing restaurants in Seattle and SF?

I live in Seattle (in the Fremont neighborhood, NW of Lake Union) and travel frequently to San Francisco on business. I joined Delta's Skymiles Dining early last year, and had no problems getting to VIP status given the number and choice of restaurants in both areas.

However, after noticing I didn't receive a notification on a recent dine at my favorite in-network restaurant, I went back to the website and noticed that most of my frequent destinations are no longer in the program. Three in particular in my neighborhood are gone; looking in San Francisco I'm seeing a similar sudden dearth of locations as well compared to before. Worse, it seems that the remaining participants are mostly chain restaurants - not the kind of place I'd go do just for points.

Anyone else notice a similar trend here? Did RW raise their commission on the last renewal (which, reading the thread, appears to have happened in October) which may explain this?
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Old Feb 1, 16, 6:41 pm
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Well, RNs restauarnts are constantly (slowly) changing in general. Most (but not all) of the ones I used to eat at regularly 5 years ago have gone, but not all the same time, closer to one at a time. In the meantime, there have been so many that joined only for a few months, and then left (or in a few cases closed down!). So down here in SoCal, I don't see anything "sudden" about it, and I see new restaurants at roughly the same rate as departures, but sometimes the replacements are in different areas (for example, there's a new spurt in the past a year a couple miles from where many long-timers dropped out in the past few years).

One thing you need to keep in mind is that RN has local reps who sign up restaurants. A specific neighborhood suddenly seeing the replacement of its RN restaurants stop may be due to the local rep having left, and then new rep being based in a different area.

Since you've only been in the RN program about a year, you haven't seen that this "churn" of restaurants has been going on a long time. I've been using RN programs for a over a decade, so I've seen turnover many many times.

However, I'm not a regular visitor to any of the places you mention, so I can't say whether they're typical or a little different in these recent losses.

Meanwhile, when you say "just chain restaurants" do you mean national chains or local chains? I see very few national chain outlets in SoCal, but more local chains (ie, local restaurants with multiple locations). And then even when I do national chains, it's often only one location (for example, only one WhichWich location that's out of the way participates, while several WhichWich locations I pass by regularly don't participate).

Last edited by sdsearch; Feb 1, 16 at 6:47 pm
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Old Feb 3, 16, 10:53 pm
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Originally Posted by rekoil View Post
I live in Seattle (in the Fremont neighborhood, NW of Lake Union) and travel frequently to San Francisco on business. I joined Delta's Skymiles Dining early last year, and had no problems getting to VIP status given the number and choice of restaurants in both areas.

However, after noticing I didn't receive a notification on a recent dine at my favorite in-network restaurant, I went back to the website and noticed that most of my frequent destinations are no longer in the program. Three in particular in my neighborhood are gone; looking in San Francisco I'm seeing a similar sudden dearth of locations as well compared to before. Worse, it seems that the remaining participants are mostly chain restaurants - not the kind of place I'd go do just for points.

Anyone else notice a similar trend here? Did RW raise their commission on the last renewal (which, reading the thread, appears to have happened in October) which may explain this?
Could you give specific examples of restaurants that have left? In my experience in SF, it's just the normal churn. What chain restaurants do you see replacing the former participants? I have not seen that. Unless you really mean the SF Bay Area rather than SF itself?
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Old Feb 8, 16, 1:15 am
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Agree that it can feel like Rewards Network is losing members. I suspect that part of their problem is that many restaurants have a difficult time calculating the program's value, since, like the Entertainment Book, it can be very hard to tell which customers are attracted by the program and which would have come anyway. I know that I've had a few random dines post from places that I didn't even know were part of RN. We've lost our last remaining participants in Ithaca and the entire Southern Tier now appears to be RN-free. (Taste of Thai Express, you will be missed...) On the other hand, there's been a few new ones in the neighborhoods we frequent in Seattle, such as Taki's Mad Greek (which we recommend!). If Rekoil is in need of quick dines near Fremont, might I suggest the Jewel of India lunch buffet? That place is so amazing and cheap that I can't figure out for the life of me why they feel the need to offer a rebate via RN...
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Old Feb 16, 16, 1:40 pm
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Originally Posted by lonelycrowd View Post
Agree that it can feel like Rewards Network is losing members. I suspect that part of their problem is that many restaurants have a difficult time calculating the program's value, since, like the Entertainment Book, it can be very hard to tell which customers are attracted by the program and which would have come anyway. I know that I've had a few random dines post from places that I didn't even know were part of RN. We've lost our last remaining participants in Ithaca and the entire Southern Tier now appears to be RN-free. (Taste of Thai Express, you will be missed...) On the other hand, there's been a few new ones in the neighborhoods we frequent in Seattle, such as Taki's Mad Greek (which we recommend!). If Rekoil is in need of quick dines near Fremont, might I suggest the Jewel of India lunch buffet? That place is so amazing and cheap that I can't figure out for the life of me why they feel the need to offer a rebate via RN...
Qazis is in Fremont; Jewel of India is in the University District. I find Seattle's membership about the same as it's been historically, perhaps slightly less.
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Old Feb 21, 16, 1:25 am
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The way Rewards Network works is that they give restaurants a loan (they call it a cash advance) and presumably the interest that the restaurant pays on that loan pays for the miles that RN pays you. This is a win for all parties involved because everyone benefits. The restaurant gets more customers due to the rewards, and also gets new customers from the program. RN gets a cut of the interest, the airline gets paid for the miles, and the customer gets a bonus for dining out.

It could be that at this time, restaurants aren't in need of loans, or the ones that dropped out have repaid their loans. (loans are typically repaid within 12 months)

I got this info from their website
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Old Feb 21, 16, 9:11 am
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Originally Posted by diburning View Post
The way Rewards Network works is that they give restaurants a loan (they call it a cash advance) and presumably the interest that the restaurant pays on that loan pays for the miles that RN pays you. This is a win for all parties involved because everyone benefits. The restaurant gets more customers due to the rewards, and also gets new customers from the program. RN gets a cut of the interest, the airline gets paid for the miles, and the customer gets a bonus for dining out.

It could be that at this time, restaurants aren't in need of loans, or the ones that dropped out have repaid their loans. (loans are typically repaid within 12 months)

I got this info from their website
But I don't think all restaurants necessarily use Rewards Network that way. If you rummage around their website, you'll they provide other services to member restaurants other than just cash advances.

I would assume that restaurants that stay in the program for 10 years, especially the once-a-monthers, must be doing it for some other reason, including the other marketing services.

In fact, at one of those once-a-month restaurants that was in the program for a decade or so, I once overheard the owner telling somebody (I happened to be one booth over) that they belong to a program which brings them extra customers who get a discount for eating at his restaurant. (He didn't seem to understand about miles, he only understood the cashback program, I guess.)
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Old Feb 21, 16, 1:32 pm
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Then perhaps maybe these restaurants don't have as much money for an advertising budget as they once did? I'd imagine that it costs a bit of money to participate just for the marketing aspect.
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Old Feb 22, 16, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by diburning View Post
Then perhaps maybe these restaurants don't have as much money for an advertising budget as they once did? I'd imagine that it costs a bit of money to participate just for the marketing aspect.
It's probably not as simple as that. The restaurants pay out of the checks of the patrons who earn miles/cashback. If they drop out, they don't have to pay, but of course they risk some of the partrons either reducing how often they dine there or dropping out themselves, and they risk not getting as many new patrons. But if their business has improved to where these extra patrons don't matter, they may not care.

So sometimes it can actually be due to their business improving to the point where they no longer need that particular source of marketing.

Many restaurants use multiple marketing help, be it Rewards Network or local coupon mailers or online restaurant coupon sites or whatnot. Restaurants will periodically adjust their mix of those whether business is getting worse or getting better or staying the same.
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