From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Machine Learning algorithms, technology is revolutionizing every aspect of business today, significantly increasing efficiency and productivity. In the hospitality industry specifically, consumers are using technology to seamlessly make plans—from booking dinner reservations to arranging travel accommodation. We’ve also seen consumers embrace technology that enhances their restaurant experience. According to a recent report, 73 percent of diners say restaurant tech improves their experience, and 95 percent of restaurateurs think it improves business efficiency.
Yet even with obvious benefits of tech solutions, hotels and restaurants often see themselves as ‘people businesses’ rather than tech-enabled ones. The truth is that those operators who do use tech to streamline operations and processes get to spend more time on the ‘people’ part – the tech gets them out of the back office and into the front of a house where they can make a real difference to their guests and teams.
To remain competitive in today’s digital age, hospitality leaders must prioritize the implementation of technology solutions that ease back-of-house operations and ultimately improve the customer experience. While having customer-facing solutions in place is important, using technology to streamline business operations will result in more productive employees and happier customers, which in turn, will allow you to more effectively market your restaurant via positive online reviews and word-of-mouth.
Data Is the Biggest Opportunity
The biggest opportunity for restaurants and hotels lies within their collective data. Front-end and back-end solutions hold a wealth of raw data, which, when aggregated into a single platform, turns that information into contextualized insight. This allows managers to better understand their business and ultimately, better equip them to make informed decisions about everything from hiring to ordering to marketing. Whether you are looking to restock your inventory, tally your top-selling items or even streamline your POS systems, having a data-driven solution in place eliminates the guesswork.
Let’s dive into a few of the ways that technology can streamline the complexities of the hospitality industry for businesses and why investing in these solutions will ultimately aid marketing efforts and increase customer loyalty:
Technology That Empowers Your Kitchen
Food and drinks are typically the second highest cost businesses incur, after labor. Having a quality kitchen management system in place will allow your staff to be more efficient and empower managers to forecast demand, so the right products are in the right place at the right time when the customers want it.
Traditionally, restaurants have relied on manual solutions like Excel-reporting which invariably lead to human oversight and errors. Now, managers should prioritize integrating systems that allow them to monitor supplies and link to invoice and credit management systems so they can better understand the value of inventory stock and calculate precise numbers for the cost of sales, profit, and revenue.
Having this type of data available enables businesses to see top selling items so they can make informed decisions on which items they should eliminate. If you know what’s popular with consumers, you can then tailor your offerings and better market your business.
Having a complete understanding of stock inventory is particularly important when it comes to online orders. With the influx of third-party food ordering apps, it can be challenging to manage order expectations when you don’t know what you have in stock. In fact, 83 percent of diners say online reservations are “very important” or “somewhat important” to their dining experience. Having data readily available on your food supply allows your staff to quickly assess what’s needed and ultimately reduces order cancelations and increases customer satisfaction.
Technology That Understands Your Payroll
Anyone that works in a restaurant or hotel knows how cumbersome it is to manage numerous part-time and full-time employees, not to mention assign shift work, configure staff time-off and pay employees on time.
Investing in a one-stop solution is vital for businesses to maintain efficiencies through technology while keeping up with salaries, employee benefits and changing regulations. Restaurants and hotels should look for solutions that have built-in payroll data analytics to help make faster and better decisions.
Not being paid on time, or incorrectly, is one of the most commonly heard complaints from staff. Getting it right every time increases both staff loyalty and the business’ reputation.
Technology That Streamlines Your Menu
Menu engineering allows chefs to unleash their creativity, but it is also a critical component for generating profit. From setting prices that accurately reflect the cost of ingredients, to inputting nutritional and allergen information, to accounting for seasonal changes that affect harvest, the menu engineering process is an extremely timely and important process.
Having a data-powered solution in place gives managers access to real-time information that can be easily transferred to a different restaurant location or interchanged on a menu. Recipe management solutions also help more accurate price menu items and allow you to evaluate what products will increase your return on investment.
Whether a customer is ordering online or at a restaurant, your menu should be searchable online. Not only is this a must in today’s competitive environment, but it also provides useful insight into what customers are searching for as well as what your popular menu items are. This will better position you to market to both current and prospective customers.
Technology That Provides a Seamless Customer Experience
Satisfied customers are the key to any successful business. If wait times are long or popular menu items are consistently ‘off menu’, you will tarnish relationships with your customers. However, by using a solution that tracks orders to payments and back to your inventory management, you will have a high-level overview of your customers experience from start to finish, which will help you segment your customer base. By distinguishing purchasing patterns and customer habits, you’ll have more visibility into what your marketing plan should look like to attract new customers.
Providing your employees with a handheld tablet that allows them to immediately send orders to the kitchen can decrease ticket times and increase table turn, which in turn, increases your weekly revenue. 61 percent of diners agree that handhelds improve their restaurant experience, while 67 percent of restaurateurs find these tablets enhance their business’s efficiency.
These solutions enable you to see immediate feedback on order times and help ensure orders are correct. Having this information at your disposal allows you to draw a meaningful conclusion of your customer’s experience so you can properly market to the right target audience and learn where you need to improve.
Although this might sound like a massive overhaul, this can all be done within a number of weeks using a one-stop solution that is easy to integrate and cost-effective. If you want to improve the guest experience, increase profits and win in today’s competitive environment, now is the time to integrate technology-backed solutions into your business.