Guest Data’s Purpose in a New Era of Hospitality
After months of closed doors and stay-at-home mandates, restaurants and hotels are slowly starting to reopen. For many operators, the uncertainty of navigating reopening processes, paired with the fact that 75% say it’s unlikely their [outlets] will be profitable within the next six months, means they will be challenged to not only make up for lost profits, but also to rethink guest experiences. Luckily, new tech solutions now on the market – like contactless ordering and payments, virtual waitlists and direct online ordering – enable operators to capture and own their guest data. These solutions provide the necessary tools to not only keep guest (and staff) safety top of mind, but also create new experiences and returning customers to ultimately drive profitability.
The Power of Data to Maintain Guest Safety
By incorporating technology into reopening strategies, operators can remain confident that they’re taking the necessary precautions to protect everyone who walks through their doors. To provide the most value to operators, these platforms must not only supply tools to run a seamless front of house, but also capture guest data directly – which can be instrumental to help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 through contact tracing. If implemented correctly by operators, as well as the additional parties involved, contact tracing technology has the potential to reduce the disease’s transmission by 64%.
Imagine a guest in Manhattan goes out for drinks at their favorite bar. Before getting to the bar, they add themselves to a virtual waitlist, providing their name, email and phone number to make the booking. If this guest later tests positive for COVID-19, the bar will not only be able to reference the collected data to see exactly when they visited, but will also have all the information they need to notify both staff and other patrons of potential exposure.
This ability to aid in contact tracing is imperative for long term success at restaurants and hotels. As operators continue to incorporate more data-focused technology to keep guests safe, they’ll have even more information at their fingertips to aid in this process while improving guest experiences and well-being.
Collecting Data to Create New Experiences & Foster Customer Loyalty
Operators must consider what technology they can implement to satisfy new guest preferences while also collecting guest data accurately and automatically. One such product to meet guests’ needs in this new era of hospitality is virtual waitlists and online reservation platforms. With these tools, diners can add themselves to a waitlist (or make a booking) before leaving their homes to cut down on time spent crowding around a host stand or waiting to be seated.
Alongside improving virtual waitlists and reservation processes, additional technology enhancements are necessary to further meet new guest expectations. Given that 38% of people are now concerned about touching shared objects, touchless offerings throughout the dining experience - such as contactless order & pay - are imperative for long-lasting success. Offering contactless ordering and payments allows guests to browse a menu, order food and drink, and pay -- all from their mobile phone. Plus, by leveraging technology that captures this information onto a guest profile, operators now have the ability to market directly back to guests based on their in-service orders and preferences.
Take MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, for example. Upon reopening their food and beverage outlets in June, they completely rethought their guest dining experience to incorporate new technology that not only helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also enhances the overall guest visit. Diners at Sadelle’s will now receive a text when their table is ready to avoid lines and crowds. To replace physical menus, QR codes have also been implemented at each table so diners can view full food and beverage offerings through the convenience of their own mobile devices. These new processes provide a safe, contactless offering for guests in today’s new world that keeps health and safety top of mind, while also capturing even more robust data on their guests to create magical moments on property.
These integrations all provide even further advantages to operators as having access to the data collected allows for the creation of long-term opportunities for operators to further strengthen guest relationships. The data collected by this technology provides an inside look at guests and what motivates them to dine. Operators can, and should, use this to their advantage in order to foster relationships and establish customer loyalty – which ultimately drives repeat orders and visits. For example, following a guest’s visit, operators can use the collected data to send personalized promotions (like a discount or a free menu item) to the guest to entice them to return or place an order for delivery.
Connecting the Dots
There’s no doubt that the first months of reopening will be difficult for operators across the hospitality industry. However, by thoughtfully incorporating technology and collecting and utilizing customer data throughout the entire guest journey, operators will be able to provide exceptional experiences while also prioritizing guest safety and helping drive more profits through direct relationships with their guests.
About the Author
Joel Montaniel is the CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms, where he leads business strategy and sales. Prior to founding SevenRooms in 2011, Montaniel served as the Chief of Staff at LivePerson, leading strategic, operational and cultural initiatives. He started his career at Credit Suisse within the Real Estate, Finance & Securitization Group. He graduated with a B.A. from Georgetown University.