Three Hot Digital Hospitality Trends

Every hotel or restaurant wants more customers. But happens once a customer is onsite? Three hot digital hospitality trends are changing the customer experience and the way operators can approach operations.

1. Convenience & Speed – Today’s consumers are looking for easy, customized offerings. From mobile ordering to customizable menus, consumers flock to concepts that provide a simple means to “make it their own”.

For example, at Chipchipotleblogphoto1otle customers can order online, customize to any level, and have their meal waiting upon arrival. In 2015, technology is augmenting this in interesting ways. Take TGI Friday’s tablet beta program for example. After testing wait staff using tablets for ordering and check-out in a six-city pilot, Fridays found that alcohol sales were up, speed was increased and even tips increased. Orders were received in the kitchen right away, customer delivery speed and table-turn increased and tips increased.

Why? This option makes it faster to take orders, less room for errors (sloppy hand-writing), and allows wait staff to focus on the needs of diners without walking back to the kitchen continuously to put in orders. And in the end, food is delivered faster and with less mistakes. And that’s a win, win, win.

Who else is embracing this trend… Applebee’s and Chili’s.

What’s next, curb-side check in at hotels, integrated operations and real-time information for hotel and restaurant managers? Perhaps business intelligence isn’t just reserved for executives, but could be used to enhance immediate reaction and operations on-site.

2. Security – With over 10% of Americans falling victim to credit card fraud, this subject hits close to home for many of us. If you’ve eaten in restaurants in many Asian and European countries, you’ll notice they often process bills at the table. This reduces credit card fraud, increases speed and satisfaction for many consumers.

I mentioned convenience & speed as two points of focus for 2015 that are being advanced by tablet and mobile use, but security is another incredible benefit. In the beta test at TGI Fridays, servers were able to process credit card payments table-side, thus increasing speed and security. With NFC now built into nearly all current generation smart phones like the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, and most top-selling mobile phones, we should start to see consumers usinTgif-nycg their phones to pay, without even having to take the plastic out of their wallets. With Square, Apple Pay, Paypal and Venmo on the scene, as well as POS integrated payment solutions we should start seeing mobile and tablet payments taking hold more strongly in 2015.
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3. Data Acquisition & Customer Loyalty – We finally have the ability to customize our product offerings and customer experience. We’ll be processing payments on mobile phones and tablets and delivering faster than ever. But how do we know what to deliver? This is where data acquisition takes place. On New Year’s Eve I went to a modern restaurant in Phoenix that was having a special New Year’s Eve event. Outside of the main dining area was a portable photo booth. It was setup so that guests could take pictures with their friends and have the photos emailed to them. Once the email is sent with the photo, the consumer is happy. But what about the email. Now the operator has that. That’s interesting data acquisition.

I’ve also recently experienced, for the first time, the digital wait list, where I gave my name, and phone number and got a text when my table was ready. They were likely using a system similar to Leapset’s Guest Manager ( This is interesting for a few reasons. First, I didn’t need to carry around a flashing flying saucer, but rather can just use my phone. But, and probably more importantly, I gave my phone number to the restaurant. Now what if that was connected to the ordering system as well. When I order at my table, what if the server put in my name and associated my phone number with my name and took my order. Now you have my order history and a basic data account. Grow that out across thousands of customers and now we’re talking.

What kind of business analytics and loyalty marketing can we do then? We’d know visit frequency, order history, order volume, average delivery times, tip, dining times, guest party sizes, and innumerable other data points. All of which can be used to both market to me, but also enhance my experience when I’m next on site. It would be fantastic if one of my favorite restaurants sent me a customized offer, had a table in my favorite area ready, addressed me by name, knew my dietary restrictions, and much more. That’s the power of tomorrow’s service operation. Speed, security and customer loyalty and marketing though smart data acquisition and use.

How can your hotel or restaurant group benefit from advances in digital technology and marketing? We’ve helped the world’s leading brands with the same questions. Is it your turn to fund answers (and dollars) as well?

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