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Written by Jordon Graham, Digital Marketing Manager
From self-service to click-and-collect, in recent years we’ve seen technology revolutionise the hospitality industry, providing increasing opportunities to deliver a unique and enhanced customer experience. This year, The Big Hospitality Expo saw a panel of experts including Richard Carter, CEO of OrderPay; Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM Media; Tristan Moffat, Operations Director of The Piano Works Group; and Simon Stenning, Strategic Advisor & Futurist at Future Food Service discuss the future of the industry. Here’s our roundup:
As Tristan Moffat, Operations Director of The Piano Works Group explained, it’s crucial that any investment in tech reflects where your brand sits within the market and the expectations of your customers.
Experiential venues are centred around human interaction and tech shouldn’t eliminate this; but should offer solutions such as removing the most transactional parts of the experience such as payment or improving the speed of service; for example providing the option to order via a QR code. More functional, casual dining restaurants however, can use tech to manage the full ordering and payment process so that guests very much serve themselves, allowing them to replace much of their waiting staff with hosts who focus on customer experience, and therefore make savings on labour costs.
We’ve all experienced bad tech, from venues where you scan a QR code simply to find a paper menu on a digital screen or having to enter payment details manually each time you place a new order. As Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM Media, said:
“The key thing is when you look at technology, it’s not necessarily about replacing existing things, it’s about adding value. So how can the technology actually add to the experience for consumers?”
Blake went on to explain that thinking about how customers want to interact digitally is vital – do they want to look for more detailed information about menu items such as calorie counts, ingredients, or allergens? It’s hard for staff members to remember all of this information but giving customers access to this in their own free time allows them to explore at their leisure, make informed choices and potentially discover new products they’ve not tried before – providing opportunities to upsell.
Tristan suggested that a ‘data for discounts’ concept can benefit vendors in terms of gathering marketable information about guests, which also complements the customer experience, enabling brands to offer tailored rewards or promotions, or interactive or bespoke menus. Blake said:
“People are used to the concept of sharing their data. They understand the pros and cons of it, but they also realise that if you can get a benefit and it helps the experience, then they’re more than willing to do it. I think it’s a really great opportunity for a lot of brands to be able to start to give a personal experience when consumers are expecting that more and more.”
Data usage must be done correctly, however, not least in terms of compliance, but also in that it must be streamlined across the entire experience – collecting the same information at every touchpoint from booking to payment to feedback can be frustrating and unnecessary for the customer.
Pre-ordering, and the desire to streamline the process, is fast becoming a key trend within the industry. Richard Carter, CEO of OrderPay, discussed how they are developing a next generation solution which enables automatic coordination of pre-orders, particularly removing the headaches and manual work needed to coordinate a large party.
Another theme which was discussed was how the nature of payments – everyone’s least favourite part of their experience – could become more streamlined. Tristan referred to Amazon Go’s checkout-less concept and whether this could be the future for hospitality venues, allowing customers to simply enjoy their experience and walk out with payment being taken automatically.
Finally, whatever the future of hospitality tech may hold, the key is not to forget what hospitality is all about – people. Tech solutions can take away the transactional, manual tasks, enabling staff to focus on engaging with customers and ensuring that they have a great experience.
Want to find out how we can help your business to embrace new technologies? Contact us today.