Yes, we know what you're thinking. An article about hospitality tech written by a hospitality tech company. But we like to think the topic is a little more nuanced (and we're a little more honest) than just brazenly selling our products.
In fact, with the cost of literally everything skyrocketing, it’s a good time to look at how tech is helping venues across the UK do more with what they already have. Because hospitality tech has come a long way from downloading glitchy apps in a pavement marquee - in fact, many venues have done away with the idea of using an ordering app, choosing seamless solutions that customers hardly notice until they pay the bill.
So below, we’re sharing some thoughts about how recent innovations in hospitality tech are supporting venues and their staff, and offsetting the rising costs of business by maximising their revenue potential.
An extra pair of hands
A seamless customer experience is about giving your service team room to breathe, especially during the peak summer periods, or even through the challenging winter ahead. Tech can be a cost-effective and simple way to take the weight off your team by introducing a range of solutions to address different customer needs.
As an example, many top-of-the-range pubs function as bustling bars, packed event spaces, gourmet restaurants and quality hotels all in one. This can leave even the largest and most resilient teams overwhelmed with dealing with so many different areas of service.
For these venues, flexibility is key. The same guest might want to order at the bar indoors, order from their phone in the garden, and just use their phone to pay their bill in the restaurant. So, you should let them.
“We notice an increase in spending [when using mobile ordering tech], as people want to eat and drink more without the need to have to queue” - Andrea Solinas, Operations Manager, Three Cheers Pub Co
A technological helping hand can also prove useful when dealing with hard-to-cover outdoor seating areas such as roof terraces or beer gardens. Not only does tech allow customers in the sun to enjoy quick and hassle-free service, but it also encourages longer stays.
Need for speed
For high-end venues built around guest experience and attentive service, introducing tech can be met with a lot of apprehension. But venues with a reputation for fine dining and silver service are demonstrating that tech solutions can be efficient, elegant and unobtrusive.
Table turnover is important, even for venues with clientele expecting a luxury customer experience and fancy crockery. In fact, a long wait for a bill can (wrongly) make a front of house team come across at best overstretched, and at worse inattentive. A discreet payment plaque on the table or a QR code on the final bill allows servers to look after customers, but gives them the freedom to pay, tip and leave in their own time, without waiting for the card machine.
We’re seeing that QR codes can be implemented with a sophisticated touch - out with the tacky vinyl table stickers and in with the engraved brass and polished steel plaques. It’s a sign that even service at the highest level is changing for the better.
“When it comes to the bill, everyone wants to leave as soon as possible.” - Anna Warwas, Restaurant Manager, The Wolseley Hospitality Group
Speaking of speeding up service, for venues who split their revenue between take-away and dine-in meals, tech can help staff better manage these two different types of customer service. Click & Collect solutions allow customers to choose the pickup time of their order and pay in advance, meaning all they really have to do is grab their food and leave.
Which means venues aren’t clogged up with bored customers ordering, paying and waiting around for their food to be ready. That’s great for staff, who can focus on table service without having to worry about manning the till for take-away customers. It’s little surprise that we’re seeing this become the norm at chains such as Pho, Wagamama and Nando’s - as it helps maximise revenue without sacrificing service.
Winter is coming
It’s not a secret that there are huge challenges on the horizon for UK venues. A recent KPMG survey revealed that 65% of consumers were spending less on eating and drinking out in order to offset the cost of monthly bills and necessities.
But in this challenge lies an opportunity for the hospitality industry to really take advantage of the flexibility tech offers. For example, staff shortages can be eased by reducing the amount of time staff members spend with each table - the level of service remains the same, but the same number of staff can serve more customers.
Furthermore, remote ordering solutions offer upsell opportunities that can drive higher spend per order. Pushy sales won't work on most customers enjoying a night out, but tech can make additional items feel like it was their idea all along - think about how many times you’ve been tempted by related products on Amazon or the sweets at a supermarket checkout.
These solutions not only improve bottom lines by streamlining service, they can also meaningfully contribute to business strategy. Data collected from tech can give you a detailed view of what items are selling, what periods are busiest and identify trends that you might miss by looking at monthly sales figures alone. This can help you create marketing campaigns and promotions that are relevant to your customer base.
So having seen the impact tech has had over the last few years, we’re hopeful that there’s a bright future for hospitality staff and customers alike. Armed with solutions that can increase customer spend, increase turnover and boost customer loyalty, venues can cope with the increasing costs by maximising revenue and efficiency in every area of service. One-size-fits-all has never worked well for venues and service teams, but flexible tech adoption has the potential to create a more resilient industry than ever before.