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Restaurants Ready for Higher Guest Counts

It was a landslide agreement among restaurant executives at the 14th annual MURTEC in Las Vegas. Bring on higher guest counts, they said. MURTEC, our perennial restaurant technology conference, saw record attendance in March, with more than 350 execs coming to network and talk about business and technology.

We conducted several live audience polls via text message response. These live polls draw significant response rates — in part because we conference-goers always have our phones at the ready white sitting in session rooms — but more importantly because it’s exciting to get an instant pulse of the industry, and use that information in discussions with tech partners and peers. In one poll, restaurant executives were asked to share which business objective was most important to their companies in the coming year. The majority, 58%, chose “increasing guest counts.” Growth through new locations came in a distant second, at 19%. Improving productivity and efficiency was chosen by just 17% of attendees, and a mere 6% are focused on increasing the average order amount of guest checks.

With the sharp focus on attracting more guests, restaurants should consider how to tap into new opportunities being driven by social CRM and e-commerce. (Interestingly enough, however, when asked about investment plans for the year ahead, social media marketing was chosen as a top priority by just 6%. The clear winner there was business intelligence / back office technology, a priority for 32% of respondents).  This month’s cover story is an inspiring one of turnaround; Black Angus Steakhouse emerged from bankruptcy protection with a dedicated focus on attracting guests, both familiar and new, with savvy use of e-commerce and the launch of a new sports bar concept. May their success story inspire you and your teams with new ways to bring on the guests.

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