The Customer’s Restaurant of the Future

I have to ask. Is the typical restaurant patron ready for technology to be a meaningful part of their meal or do they still prefer conversation with an informed person from the waitstaff? Personally, technology is cool, especially when it improves how something is done. However, as with most things in life, it has its time and place.

As a manager or an owner of a restaurant, you have to ask, “What could make our customer experience better today and generate results for our business?” Many products and concepts are circulating the industry that could provide expense reductions, differentiation versus the competition, increased opportunity for revenue or enhanced customer experiences, in turn creating an opportunity for increased loyalty.

What areas of the business and customer experience could be positively affected by technology? Here are a few considerations:

Marketing – creating awareness across the many possible patrons within the sites and venues where they spend their time. These segments may entail a spouse making a reservation, an Event Planner researching the details of a corporate event or an Administrative Assistant making reservations for a business dinner. Placing your product in front of these people at the right time is imperative.

Research – An increasing number of people need to research a place to eat before they are able to consider it for an option. The research they need ranges from the type of restaurant, type of food, price levels and whether the party’s dietary needs will be met to both customer reviews and write-ups from local critics.

Experience Management – While the customer has minimal interest in a restaurant reservation becoming a dominant part of their life for any amount of time, there are Pre-arrival, Pre-seating, Meal and Post-departure considerations that may make the overall customer experience memorable, enjoyable and even preferable.

Visualizations – Introducing the central most themes of the dining experience in a visual manner may prove beneficial to your patrons. This includes the setting itself, its associated facilities, the food of course, dietary information and any other detail that conveys your uniqueness as a business.

Customer Cost Savings – For budget conscious consumers, how could they eat at your restaurant within their spending limits. And for those more interested in the experience, how will the items designed for their palate entice them.

Upgrades – represent opportunities to present additional purchases at the most opportune time and in the best light. Is the best time to pitch appetizers at the table or while the customer is waiting to be seated and what type of appetizer is manageable for customers when not at a table?

Menus – require printing, are fixed in terms of content and may not be connected to the website or digital menu. While this is the best solution for selected restaurants, a digital menu experience that fulfills customer expectations online and in the restaurant is definitely worth considering for the future. This is a need in today’s market for locations that have a dynamic, regularly changing menu.

Ordering – The needs of each business are different in this area as ordering may be for delivery, for pick-up or pre-ordering for an on-site dining experience.

Service – There are many excellent service personnel in the industry and this function represents many jobs across the world. This facet of the hospitality industry has the potential to be the most impactful with regard to both the customer experience and operations management. If more transactions take place at the table and are facilitated by technology, the role of the server could change significantly. Where appropriate, it may enable restaurants to place more time against preparing a table for guests and fulfilling requests. This in turn allows the technology to receive orders and facilitate guest requests. It also creates much more flexibility for formulating the tailored customer experience that you want to provide for each person and group that walks through the doors.

Payment – Today’s multi-step dance has minimal value other than testing your patron’s math skills. All that is truly required is a brief review of the finalized check and the click of a button for approval with payment automated to the most optimal debit or credit card that will give a guest the most rewards. It simply doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this. Payment options now allow an experience close to this offered in many forms.

Each of these areas, and many others, could be positively influenced with the application of technology. And today, the technology exists.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Today’s Marketing Looks, Tastes and Smells Better with Technology

Many marketing tasks in today’s world are improved with the appropriate amount of technology seasoning. Websites, as an example, are by definition a solution where the technology usually becomes the backbone of a company’s digital marketing presence. Stated another way, a company’s marketing presence may include a website. Given the competition, the website requires a base level of functionality to perform well and meet the needs of the necessary segments within a marketplace.

A deeper review of this website example shows that a typical website for the hotel industry has multiple components that make it work. A website may include:

Content Management SystemEmail & Social Marketing
Digital Asset ManagementContent Marketing & Blog
Content DistributionMulti-screen Responsiveness
Internet Booking EngineMarketing Reporting & Analytics
Group Booking FunctionalityProperty Performance Data
Guest Surveys, Feedback and ReviewsPricing Data

Whether you manage this internally, rely upon a brand or hire an agency, it still requires a fair amount of oversight by the various people responsible for the performance of the property. When considering a website, another system, or all technologies required to make a hotel operate efficiently, there are many details to manage.

Furthermore, the advent of new technologies may present unique opportunities for competitive advantage, even if only for a matter of months or a few years. During the last 20 years the industry has seen this occur multiple times. Companies and properties created strategies to reap the benefits of each instance.

Email arrived in force in the corporate sector in the mid 1990’s. Websites became prevalent shortly thereafter. Subsequently, online travel agencies began providing new distribution capabilities. And more recently, hotel companies are better leveraging the features of social and mobile for their business. It is important for hotel marketers to stay aware of changes and address the opportunities appropriate for their hotel, brand and the customer experience they want to provide to the marketplace.

The question any business needs to ask themselves is what are the market opportunities for the industry and how will this marketing team take advantage of them to continuously improve its sales and marketing performance. Today, the answer to this question may require an investment in marketing technology. Now is the time to prepare for tomorrow’s marketing opportunities.

Building a Marketing Technology Infrastructure

While any given business may have and want to keep their own definition of Marketing, it is important to state that Capsolve’s definition for this article is an inclusive one. The definition of Marketing Technology (MarTech) stems from a broad inclusion of both the Sales and Marketing organizational functions in addition to the Information Technology and Human Resources required to support it. Furthermore, marketing occurs in all areas of the organization and a marketing department may influence the conversations that occur with the marketplace from every area of the company, such as Customer Service or even Collections.

A business needs to consider many facets when planning a MarTech Infrastructure and subsequently allow it to act as a guide toward the specific technologies that will eventually fulfill the organization’s underlying needs. As an example of this, we could manage our marketing data with paper, a spreadsheet, a database or a full fledged data management solution, among many other possibilities. What data you say? Marketing data may entail leads, prospects, customers, social profiles, DNC information, contact information, business information, marketing campaign data and many other sources such as operational system data able to influence your marketing programs.

Marketing Technology modules support marketing capabilities whether they originate from the marketing team or from another area of the organization. The potential solutions within each module and their level of sophistication will vary as a result of the business and the strategic justification for the investment. The ultimate solution may be formulated as an off-the-shelf solution, custom software or a service provided by another part of the organization or an agency.

A company’s goal to lead an industry or competitive segment with respect to one or more marketing capabilities is essential for it to thrive. Your business may choose what it wants to accomplish in this regard and then explore how to actually make it happen with existing or customer technology. Alternatively, it may first find a technology that fits within its strategic objectives and determine if the details of the solution are able to match its specific requirements. Either approach begins the development of a capability that the organization will continue to mature as its marketing sophistication increases based upon need.