As the vaccine rollout gathers pace across the UK, hospitality operators will be keeping a keen eye on official announcements around when and how their doors might be able to reopen. While restrictions have been challenging for the sector, the resilience of venues has been on full display, with many employing creative solutions to the problems posed by the pandemic.
There are now more restaurants than ever offering online ordering for at-home enjoyment, with many branching out into meal kits, virtual cooking classes and multi-course tasting menus to protect revenue despite lockdowns.
The enabling force for these hospitality innovations is technology, which plays a crucial role today, and will continue to do so when guests can return to in-venue dining in the future. Online ordering has played a vital role throughout the pandemic for operators who were able to quickly scale up direct delivery and takeaway capabilities.
Using end-to-end guest experience platforms, operators have been able to safeguard income while maintaining direct relationships with their guests. And as customers have grown increasingly comfortable and accustomed to online ordering, it will remain a valuable revenue stream for operators in the long-term.
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Operators currently relying on costly third-party marketplaces should look to facilitate their own online ordering, collection and delivery services directly through an enhanced tech stack. The smart approach for modern hospitality operators is to have a connected system in place that helps capture and leverage data directly, enabling them to build a deeper relationship with their guests and, ultimately, driving repeat business.
Technology already impacts the guest journey at multiple touchpoints for many operators. And as venues reopen, tech will increasingly influence each stage of the hospitality experience – be it reservations and waitlists, table management and online ordering, or even post-visit automated marketing communications and review aggregation.
In-venue, for example, we will see greater incorporation of contactless ordering and payments for venues of all shapes and sizes. These systems will not only provide peace of mind for safety-conscious customers but can also boost guest spend and make it easier for restaurants to track purchasing habits across multiple visits. As a result, operators will be able to create more bespoke offers or promotions that might tempt customers back for a future visit.
Likewise, dynamic menus served to each on-premise guest via their personal device will become commonplace in the post-pandemic restaurant environment. Insights from past experiences will be used to shape tailored menu offerings for individual guests. This data-driven menu experience could also highlight recommendations while hiding allergen-containing dishes to create a unique, engaging experience for customers that will boost loyalty.
Technology can power a greater amount of flexibility for hospitality businesses today and long after the pandemic has passed. In tomorrow’s increasingly competitive market, venues need the tools to reach their guests in the right way at the right time, enhancing the guest experience to make the most out of each individual visit. By taking a tech-powered approach to doing business, venues will be able to provide even more flexibility around new and existing offerings which could prove crucial in building sustainable success for the future.
Written by Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe, SevenRooms