Like other rewards programs, Blackbird collects basic personal data (name, zip code, and date of birth), as well as the details of each check: what you ordered, special requests, food allergies, and the like.
“Independent restaurants don’t have the tools to make use of that raw data,” Leventhal said. “There’s a difference between knowing it’s someone’s birthday and being able to contact that person and ask them out for a drink.”
Each restaurant can determine its own rewards system, with levels (similar to gold, platinum, diamonds, etc.) depending on the number of visits. Additionally, with each visit, customers earn a certain amount of credit, called $FLY, which they can spend at any Blackbird restaurant. In technological terms, “flies” are native tokens, but for practical purposes they function like credit card points or airline miles.
Blackbird installed chip readers under the tables at Nat’s on Bank, so when a member sits down and places a phone on the table, the restaurant receives an automatic alert. Nat’s Tier 1 customers get a free cocktail on their second and fourth visits. On the seventh visit, they move up to Level 2, where they get more freebies, plus restaurant merchandise like hot sauce, water bottles, and scented candles. Level 3 begins on the 10th visit, with a free appetizer at each visit and other benefits to be determined.
Blackbird earns “a few cents” for each member visit, Leventhal said, and may eventually charge restaurants to license the software. He acknowledged that, like many other companies, Blackbird will also be able to monetize the data it collects. But unlike other platforms like Resy and OpenTable, Blackbird will allow restaurants to see data on all members, not just those who dine at their own restaurants.