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05/12/2016

Improving Satisfaction & Efficiency with Guest WiFi

Back in 1986, a couple of displaced Texans found themselves in Ottawa. They loved it there except  for one thing – not a single restaurant served the authentic Texas food they loved and grew up on. So they took matters into their own hands and opened up the very first Lone Star Texas Grill. Bold Texas inspired flavors, friendly service, and a great family dining experience have kept Ontarians coming back to Lone Star Texas Grill for over three decades. With more than twenty restaurants across the province, attention to quality and service are important factors in the restaurants’ continuing success.

Today more than ever, diners are using mobile devices while eating out. They’re checking in to restaurants, sharing photos on social media and reading restaurant reviews. According to Technomic, a research and consulting firm specializing in the food industry, 47% of millennials indicate that whether or not a restaurant offers free Wi-Fi can impact their decision to eat there. Restaurants are starting to realize their customers want to get connected, and that providing fast and free Wi-Fi can help boost both dining experiences and customer satisfaction.

At one time Lone Star Texas Grills’ burdensome connection process and slow Wi-Fi received endless complaints, impacting how customers perceived the restaurant and even online restaurant reviews. Lone Star’s president & CEO, Nils Kravis, knew something needed to be done. Bob Macey, senior project manager for the Lone Star Group of Companies, led the charge to find a solution. He knew what the restaurant chain needed was a Guest Wi-Fi platform with advanced features. One that could provide: a quick onboarding process, cloud-based management across all locations, insights into who customers are and how they behave, the ability to grow customer databases, and easy implementation of marketing initiatives.

Finding an existing platform that met all these requirements could save Lone Star a significant amount of money while making his job easier.

After extensive research of what was available, and comparing various platform offerings, Macey proposed Cloud4Wi and it was installed in just a few days on Lone Star’s existing Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi infrastructure. Diners immediately experienced fast Wi-Fi and an effortless onboarding process. New users registering through Cloud4Wi have the option to connect using their email and phone number, or Facebook account. The platform can recognize returning guests and automatically connect them for future visits. With each login, Cloud4Wi collects and aggregates customer data – contributing qualified emails to the database while displaying insightful metrics on a single dashboard. Metrics include Customer Analytics, who customers are and their demographics, as well as Hotspot Analytics, which collectively show across all locations the total traffic, impressions, loyal customers and how often they return.

Information about the restaurant’s loyalty program is now displayed on the Welcome Portal, and customers are provided an incentive to join with ten dollars in “Texas Bucks.”  Surveys are also promoted on the Welcome Portal, giving customers an easy outlet to provide feedback on the food, service and overall meal experience.

One Cloud4Wi feature that really intrigued the Lone Star group was its ability to count the number of people walking by the restaurant, without requiring them to connect. Knowing this information empowers Lone Star to explore new ways to draw in those just passing by outside. Having actual conversion numbers helps Lone Star figure out what our best practices are, so we can better plan for the future.

“With its quick setup, Volare Presence Analytics can easily detect MAC addresses from passing smartphones and then send us a list,” explains Kravis. “Volore then integrates this data coming in from the Wi-Fi network, crunching numbers to make sense of it all. Analytics are displayed on a unified and intuitive, cloud-based dashboard, making it easy for us to visualize and understand all the metrics. Volare analytics enables aggregation of information from multiple locations, which gives us a more meaningful and accurate representation of company’s performance.”

Positive impact on social & loyalty
Revamping the Guest Wi-Fi has dramatically improved Lone Star’s social media presence. The new Welcome Portal with social login has increased the number of ‘Likes’ on the Lone Star Facebook page, which helps extend the reach of promotions to friends and families of existing customers.

With sign-up for the Lone Star VIP loyalty program conveniently on the Welcome Portal, the number of VIP members spiked in just three months. The amount of customer feedback received also increased, helping Lone Star see what customers are happy with and areas where the restaurant can improve. Because surveys also live on the Welcome Portal, Lone Star can obtain a consistent and gradual flow of feedback, without needing to send out specialized surveys to gather customer opinions.

One of the biggest benefits of the new Guest Wi-Fi platform has been the growth of email subscribers. Lone Star now has a better understanding of who their customers are and can plan for specially targeted marketing campaigns. With the marketing tools available on the Cloud4Wi platform, Lone Star can create and execute campaigns straight from the dashboard. Through the data collected, Lone Star is better able to identify traffic patterns and adjust hours of operation and staffing strategies thus improving restaurant efficiency.

Since rolling out Cloud4Wi, LoneStar has collected 24,000 opted-in emails and Facebook profiles, drawn 18% of outside foot traffic inside and seen 41% returning customers.

The decision to deploy Cloud4Wi has not only transformed how the restaurant chain operates, but has also shaped its future marketing plans. Lone Star plans on leveraging Cloud4Wi’s marketing tools to build stronger, more meaningful customer relationships. For instance, when a diner leaves the restaurant, Lone Star will send them a ‘thank you’ email or text with a coupon – enticing the diner to return and dine again in the future.

“With the Cloud4Wi services platform for advanced guest Wi-Fi, not only have we improved diner satisfaction, but we’ve made our business stronger and more efficient as well,” Kravis says.