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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Marketing departments of franchise chains are diving deeply into social media, with the latest frenetic energy to engage their customers going into the newly upgraded Apple iPhone. One chief marketing officer sums up why the run to develop these free iPhone applications for customers.
“As more of our customers are integrating the iPhone and iPod touch into their everyday lives, Pizza Hut wants to be right there with them," said Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut CMO. "As a longtime category leader in innovation, creating an App Store application is just one more way we are helping customers place orders in a way that best fits their mobile lifestyle."
Pizza Hut launched a pizza ordering application that had a hundred thousand downloads within two weeks. The goal is to get consumers to install and habitually use the application, engage the brand and find the most convenient franchise to patron.
Listed below are some of the free applications that franchise chains have launched in the last few weeks to help drive business to the local franchise.
Book LaQuinta: The latest is La Quinta hotels, who announced Wednesday that they have just released an iPhone application near a location based on the phone’s latest GPS mapping technology. Users can book a room at a La Quinta hotel, change an existing reservation, get driving directions to/from the hotel, view photos and get detailed service and amenity information. In addition, La Quinta Returns members can access their account to earn rewards and book free nights online. To get additional information about a specific hotel, users can click-to-call any hotel directly.
"More and more travelers are using the iPhone and iPod Touch as a tool to help navigate their daily lives," said Andy Adams, Product Manager, Brand Websites for La Quinta. "We want to provide a convenient way for these users to connect with La Quinta Inns & Suites. Even at the last minute, travelers can find special deals online to let them experience what it's like to wake up on the bright side."
Check fast food allergens with iCanEat OnTheGo: This application isn’t created or sponsored by a fast-food chain. So it’s not free. It’s $4.95, but it is an worthy honorable mention. Customers can discreetly search for gluten and/or allergen-free foods. The application reflects the information of allergen and gluten data from 15 Chains ranked in QSR Magazine's 2009 Top 50 Report. These are franchised outlets such as Arby's, Boston Market, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, Domino's, Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Qdoba, Sonic, Subway, Taco Bell & Wendy's.
"Rather than sifting through hundreds of web pages to determine possible menu choices, users save significant time and energy by letting iCanEat OnTheGo do the work for them, " states Kim Koeller, President of AllergyFree Passport.
Domino’s Pizza Tracker: Ranked as last quarter’s biggest in online pizza ordering by marketing researcher NPD Group, this leader gets down to business when it comes to iPhone applications. Because Domino’s knows that their customers want their pizza fast without any monkey business. Domino’s pizza tracker follows the progress on an ordered pizza: Pizza Tracker verifies what was ordered, how much time it took to make, went through the oven, sat on the rack, was delivered and who is delivering it.
Dunkin’ Run: In June, Dunkin’ Donuts announced one of the first group ordering applications. "Runners" can initiate a Dunkin’ group order on www.DunkinRun.com via their computer or an iPhone application available. Interactive alerts are sent to the Runner's list of friends or co-workers, telling them when a trip to Dunkin' Donuts is planned along with a personal message inviting them to place an order online. Invitees can view the Dunkin' Donuts menu to place their order, and registered users can select from their own personal list of favorites and/or previous orders. The Runner is given a checklist page to ensure that everyone in the group gets what he or she ordered.
Dunkin' Run was a joint collaboration between Dunkin' Donuts and its advertising and digital agencies of record, Hill Holliday and Studiocom, respectively. Thomas Spicer, Managing Director of Studiocom says that the application “simplifies and expands upon existing consumer behaviors, making it easier and more convenient for groups to interact and order, whether they are at home, work or on the go."
Order at Pizza Hut: This whimsical application received over 100,000 downloads within the first two weeks of going live. The application is divided into pizza, wings and pastas. The pizza ordering section allows consumers to virtually build their own pizza by choosing a type of crust in the scroll wheel, "pinching" to select size, and dragging-and-dropping toppings onto the pizza, all with visual confirmation. If an overeager pizza customer adds too many toppings, the pizza explodes and toppings go flying across the screen with an alert to make their pizza happier with fewer toppings.
And if that weren’t fun enough, then consider this. While waiting for the order to be delivered, the user can hop into his Pizza Hut racer game to see how fast he or she can deliver a pizza.