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Current Trends and Opportunities for Hospitality Operators Across Mobile Ordering

To really understand the opportunities that mobile ordering offers operators, it is also necessary to understand the trends in guest demand and how and where mobile solutions have grown and are being employed by both operators and their guests to meet it.
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The contact-free experience has quickly shifted from the ‘new kid on the block’ to the norm and whilst mobile ordering apps demonstrated their role and worth during the pandemic, as operators now face the continued challenges of rising costs and recruitment, they have an even more valuable role to play.

To really understand the opportunities that mobile ordering offers operators, it is also necessary to understand the trends in guest demand and how and where mobile solutions have grown and are being employed by both operators and their guests to meet it.

Guest preference for a digital experience

The guest preference for mobile ordering across the hospitality experience is significantly increasing and this now extends beyond F&B outlets to include concierge and the hotel directory. Familiar and comfortable with accessing and using their phones (and QR codes) in other aspects of their lives – most notably retail - guests now turn to their smart device frequently throughout their stay to access a host of products and services.

Certainly F&B is a big driver, whether that be room service, food and drinks at the bar, coffees to a meeting room or cocktails by the pool. Our own customer data shows that soda is the most ordered item in the top hotel in the United States, compared to fresh juice in Mexico and continental breakfast in Canada. Likewise, a Greek salad generates the most revenue for hospitality operators in Greece, followed by smashed avocado in the top performing hotel in the United Kingdom and Yeung chow fried rice in China. Nothing too unusual but knowing what your guests order and where is incredibly invaluable for hoteliers managing suppliers, staff resources and orders at a time when costs are increasingly being scrutinized.

Ancillary revenue boost

Beyond F&B however, operators can avail themselves to the opportunity to drive even more ancillary revenue and enhance the guest journey and guest experience across concierge and directory services. Whether that be additional reservations for the Spa or Golf, transfers, booking local attractions or room upgrades, to name just a few.

Service requests for additional items such as bed linen, ironing boards or toiletries for example and housekeeping or maintenance messages are also on the increase. Hotels are finding that guests are more than familiar with using their phones to manage their stay as they are with other areas of their lives and with younger guests especially, they are more comfortable (and likely) to make a digital request rather than speak to a staff member in person.

Our own customer data across order and service requests confirms this as a trend that is on the up. October alone saw a 55% increase in the number of orders and a 49% boost in revenue processed year on year – the most orders and revenue through our system to date.

Enhanced functionality

Why have mobile solutions seen such an exponential rise? The answer lies in the increased accessibility and functionality they deliver for both the operator and guest. Guests have been quick to recognise the benefits that mobile solutions offer. Not least they can have more autonomy over their stay, ordering on demand at a time and place that suits them. The internet-first and digitally native Generation Z is also continuing to mature and shape the current and future generation of guests. As the first generation ‘born into’ an internet and digital mobile-enabled world the reality is Gen Z and future generations will drive the wider adoption of mobile ordering even further beyond the levels we currently see. Whilst the last three years have been anything but predictable it is safe to say that any future strategies can and must include a focus on mobile and digital capabilities in order to help secure bookings and revenues.

Improved resources and sustainability

For operators, mobile ordering has now become a critical part of day-to-day operations as they face ongoing challenges of inflation and staff recruitment and retention.

To mitigate the impact of rising costs, including energy bills, mobile ordering has had an important role to play. Not least the need to no longer run up expensive printing costs every time there is an alteration to a menu or guest services directory which if presented as physical, hard copies then have to be manually replaced throughout the property. Any updates can be made in real time across the app at the touch of a button. Much easier to implement and deliver into the palm of a guest’s hand directly and with limited demands on staff.

The benefits for sustainability are also a big driver and influence on this. As travel has started to see a return and pent-up demand has driven bookings, guests are much more conscious of how they travel and where they stay. Just as they demand and expect mobile ordering functionality and capabilities, so too they also demand and expect to book with operators that are taking clearly defined steps to operate more sustainably.

Mitigate staff challenges

Whilst staffing has presented many challenges from both an operations and also guest relations perspective, mobile ordering has also meant hoteliers have been able to bridge the resulting guest service gap. Guests are comfortable and willing to order themselves meaning less demand on staff and a more efficient approach to managing requests and orders, which in turn leads to increased guest and staff satisfaction. Certainly a win/win, but the real impact can be felt when increased satisfaction results in staff and guest retention and loyalty. Optimized guest services can drive guest expenditure and likewise a greater understanding of the guest and their preferences. All valuable insights which can support personalized and profitable marketing and upsell opportunities.

Currently the trend towards mobile ordering shows no sign of abating. Guest demand will undoubtedly drive operator adoption. How this permeates across operations remains to be seen, however a mobile-first approach looks set to have a key influence in many operational strategies in the future as Gen Z and future generations come of age.

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