Technology plays an important role in modern marketing strategies and guest management for the hospitality industry. Managing restaurant customers with technology, apps, POS systems and website widgets not only strengthens customer satisfaction but also increases visits, attracts new customers and gets customers to spend more money during each visit. Guests increasingly expect the advantages of using technology at their favorite restaurants, so implementing the technology to manage the guest experience becomes increasingly important.
Restaurant patrons often treat their favorite dining spots as surrogate homes or clubs, so restaurateurs are justified in getting the most revenue from each customer in lieu of rent. However, the strategy must be subtle. Technology gets results without hard-sell advertising and promoting. Using technology to manage the guest experience increases sales and satisfaction. Examples of modern restaurant technologies include functional websites, systems that automatically deliver coupons and loyalty rewards, website apps that provide seamless ordering options and gaming solutions to keep kids and customers entertained while waiting for food or seats.
Technology Solutions for Better Guest Experiences
Restaurants earn up to 80 percent of their income during rush periods, sop turning tables and maximizing revenue during these peak hours is critical. Technology can simplify ordering, reduce errors and increase sales when servers are often too busy to push sales.
Ordering, Seating and Taking Reservations
Seating guests efficiently reduces waiting time and increases revenue. Technology speeds communication between the kitchen, servers, hosts and management so that tables turn faster and diners know how long they must wait. Restaurants can manage large groups with minimal disruption and hold tables for shorter periods. FOH managers can work more efficiently to seat waiting patrons and provide up-to-date information to customers who call ahead.
Mobile ordering works for all types of restaurants, especially fast food chains. Technology allows customers to order from their iPhones, iPads, tablets, laptops and smartphones. Technology innovations for mobile ordering include:
- Facebook ordering is a big leap in technology that many restaurants will be using. Getting a restaurant menu on the popular platform not only speeds ordering and payment but also generates advertising advantages.
- Kiosk ordering is becoming more popular in all types of restaurants because it shortens wait times and ensures that servers don’t misinterpret orders.
- Mobile check-in services allow diners to use their smartphones to geotarget nearby restaurants and find the fastest seating or preferred types of food while on-the-go.
- Carryout ordering on mobile devices speeds orders for people with limited time or short lunch breaks.
Integrating Loyalty and Rewards Programs
Baby Boomers and Millennials contribute to the two-thirds of consumers who cite automatic loyalty and rewards programs as their favorite technology benefit at restaurants. Restaurateurs can track rewards for customers and use sign-up information for targeted marketing. Benefits of rewards programs for improving the guest experience include:
- Delivering personalized coupons
- Providing custom rewards plans
- Boosting revenue by monitoring customer behavior
- Connecting with guests from five generations based on demographic profiles
- Incorporating social sharing elements into rewards programs to brand the restaurant and promote its social media presence
Customers are seldom comfortable when surrendering their credit cards to pay their guest checks. This practice could lead to credit card fraud. Tableside technology allows customers to pay their checks at the table, review their orders, request service and add items after ordering.
Digital Menu Boards
Digital menu boards offer many options for improving the guest experience and increasing sales. Managers can display digital menus and information about upcoming events, promote daily specials and cross-promote the restaurant’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram content. Advantages of using digital menu boards include:
- Boosting revenue by promoting specials and tailoring menus to changing customer profiles depending on time of day, week or month
- Using digital signs to suggestively sell and upsell
- Reducing perceived waiting times by entertaining guests with information, social media postings or trivia games
- Displaying local news, sustainable suppliers’ information or charitable initiatives
- Promoting branded merchandise, gift certificates and loyalty programs.
Technology delivers a better guest experience by reducing waiting times, speeding service, promoting menu items and providing nutritional facts and information about upcoming events and milestones. Mobile ordering, tableside technology and seamless reservation systems reduce wait times and provide a better dining experience to each guest.
Technology can be used to gather information about customers, provide automatic rewards and coupons and tailor promotions to each customer based on his or her preferences. Skewed perceptions cause discontented customers, but technology allows guests to understand what’s happening and why, which may be the biggest advantage of using technology for managing the guest experience.