Trends in hospitality technology that restaurants should follow By Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology
What’s really going to make your hospitality brand stand out by 2020? Great food? Great facilities? Fantastic value?
All of those things, of course. But according to a new study, the biggest brand differentiator for any business from 2018 onwards will be customer experience.
Put simply, customer experience is your customers’ perception of how your company treats them.
If they like how you do things, it affects the way they behave, building up positive memories and driving both engagement with and loyalty to your particular restaurant or hotel.
So when looking at the top trends in hospitality technology in 2018, software that enables a great customer experience comes top of my list.
There’s no doubt about it, creating the perfect customer experience requires a lot of knowledge about your customer. Personalised service is highly valued by guests, but to get it right requires a lot more than guesswork.
Leading edge hospitality software including EPOS and hotel property management systems capture important information about each guest, building up a complete picture of their preferences and likes.
As Forbes commented recently, “big data gives us trends and insights with uncanny accuracy – there is no reason not to create a more personalised experience that caters to a customer’s individual needs.”
The loyalty-building element of customer experience can receive a big boost from this kind of technology, because armed with knowledge, business owners can email guests and diners offers and rewards they know will hit the mark.
Another major trend in hospitality technology for 2018 is linked with today’s increasing demand for easy access at all times.
Customers – and particularly the millennial generation – are now used to accessing all areas of their lives via their smartphone or laptop. The financial services and insurance industries are moving massively on this at the moment, and hospitality is following suit.
In today’s climate customers are increasingly looking to make transactions at the click of a button. With the popularity of apps such as OpenTable this is particularly true of restaurant reservations.
An online restaurant reservations solution such as that provided by Aloha EPOS software offers guests the opportunity to book tables 24/7 without ever having to make a phone call. It offers convenience for them and an additional stream of revenue for you because reservations can be taken around the clock, and it can be integrated with OpenTable if required.
Staff, too, appreciate technology that is intuitive to use, which is why the latest generation of EPOS software in 2018 is made available as an app – load it and go; staff training is simple and they can be processing orders within a couple of hours.
It enables the kind of seamless and effortless guest experience that today’s digital-savvy and time-poor customers require.
Serving staff can take accurate orders on hand-held devices or tablets at tableside and send them instantly to the kitchen for action. Payment can also be taken rapidly at the table, with splitting the bill a cinch – good news for the increasing number of casual dining establishments, where groups tend to be larger. It’s also good news for the restaurant, because the quick service means table turn improves.
Head office management technology will continue to be an important trend for 2018 for multi-location businesses where it can be hard of keep track of the organisation end-to- end.
The enterprise technology gives the business owner or manager access to real-time data via their mobile device, anywhere they have an online connection – this can include sales, stock levels, labour- and even whether staff are dealing with any social media criticism efficiently.
Business intelligence is a huge trend for 2018 after showing its worth in tricky 2017. With comprehensive up-to- date reports available at all hours of the day or night, a business owner can make sound decisions based on real information. For instance, stock is kept under control thanks to accurate forecasting based on genuine sales figures and identified trends.
A final further trend in hospitality technology for 2018 is easy finance. The best software is now available as a rental option, keeping costs down and providing an immediate ROI, which is important in these times of rising food costs and exploding business rates.
This year, experts are saying that hospitality technology is moving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘have to have’, and of course we wouldn’t disagree.
As times get tougher, and even some famous names fall by the wayside, it’s not just the efficiencies and savings created by EPOS systems that are important, although these easily-quantifiable elements are instrumental in giving businesses a competitive edge.
It’s harder to quantify the value of an enhanced customer experience. But it’s already becoming apparent that in 2018, it may be the most valuable advantage that EPOS can bring to a restaurant business.