Leisure and entertainment technology has always pushed the boundaries of what we previously thought possible, disrupting the status quo and furthering innovation to improve the guest experience, boost revenue and build brand loyalty. Yet, never have we seen such a major disruption in the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth last year, accelerating the adoption and progression of countless technologies, including mobile food & beverage (F&B) ordering.
Research shows that more than 45 million Americans used online food ordering apps in the last year alone – a staggering 25% increase from 2019 – and the modern expectation for hospitality venues to provide contactless updates to the typical dining experience points to this technology becoming a mainstay for businesses.
With this in mind, it’s essential that operators recognize and seize the opportunity available through mobile F&B by streamlining the technology’s implementation now, in preparation for even greater demand in the future. By taking the steps necessary to improve internal processes, operators can effectively future-proof their own operations, improve upon both guest and staff experiences and, ultimately, boost their bottom line.
- Integrated Guest Information
Operators can take the guest experience to the next level by integrating guest data into one, easy-to-use database that provides a holistic view of the individual guest. Many software offerings on the market today create their own databases, each of which keep the information siloed. When combined, however, the data becomes a powerful tool in providing loyal guests with personalized experiences by giving operators a much clearer, more robust understanding of guests’ unique needs and preferences.
For example, mobile F&B orders for a family meal combo can be combined with the same guest’s hotel amenity orders, providing insight which allows operators to provide more individualized messaging and offers, thus enhancing the guest experience – and potentially driving increased revenue, as well.
For guests, the integration of offerings into a single all-in-one platform, such as a mobile app, simplifies the experience of navigating their visit. Guests can use the platform to order their food, reference past orders, review personalized offers provided by the operator and more – all from their mobile device or via desktop-hosted web portal.
For example, Alterra Mountain Company recently integrated mobile F&B capabilities into its Ikon Pass app, allowing skiers to pre-order their food at six different ski areas across North America. The integration not only simplifies the ordering process, but also enables the operational team to integrate new data into guests’ overall profiles. For guests, the app really serves as an all-encompassing digital wallet, hosting contactless payment options, mobile F&B order history, upcoming restaurant reservations and more. Gone are the days of guests scrolling through countless apps, confirmation emails and other resources to prepare for their visit. We know that a guest’s experience with a brand begins long before they arrive on-site, and this is a great way to help ease stress in the pre-visit planning process.
- Maintaining the Need for Speed
The recent shift to an even greater reliance on digital tools goes hand-in-hand with guests’ increasing expectations for a quick and seamless interaction with your mobile F&B platform – from the moment they decide to order through the time it’s fulfilled. There are a number of small but essential steps operators can take to ensure they’re keeping up with this rapidly evolving expectation of expediency, while increasing efficiency and reducing excess time spent on each order by staff.
For instance, your mobile F&B platform should allow guests to save their credit card on file for future use while also incorporating “autofill” capabilities for common information such as name, phone number or email address. While this may seem like a small step, it’s by no means an inconsequential one – use of these capabilities significantly speeds up the ordering process for guests, allowing them a quicker, easier and more enjoyable platform experience. Internally, submitted mobile F&B orders should easily integrate with already-in-place kitchen printers and bump bars, allowing for hassle-free incorporation of mobile orders into the mix for an already busy back-of-house staff.
- Realize Your True Earning Potential
With many guests choosing to-go orders over traditional dining, operators will see increased revenue opportunities, and the data speaks for itself: research shows that one in four consumers will spend more on off-site transactions than if dining in person. Additionally, a fully capable online ordering platform provides more opportunities for unique and personalized up-sell and cross-sell offers, which can help increase a customer’s total purchase while also providing them with tailored offerings to enhance their dining experience.
If and when guests must pay on-site, tablet-optimized orders and reservation management systems simplify the checkout process and, to the benefit of front-of-house team members, is shown to increase gratuity for nearly 60% of credit card orders; this number takes a nosedive to 30% for orders not placed on a tablet or similar point-of-sale device.
Once guests return home, operators still have unique opportunities to entice their return. With the right guest experience management platform, operators can keep guests engaged through the use of marketing messages and offers (for a free treat, for example) – all of which can be personalized to the individual consumer based on past purchases.
As time goes on, it’s become clear that many guests will expect operators to continue the use of mobile F&B well beyond the pandemic’s end. Fortunately, as we’ve seen here, the use of mobile F&B is a win-win solution for guests and operators alike. By taking steps to implement effective technology that meets and exceeds modern expectations, operators can make moves that address the challenges of today while getting a head start on creating the guest experience of the future.
About the Author
George Hambleton serves as vice president of sales at accesso, one of the leisure and entertainment industry’s top technology companies offering solutions that deliver an unparalleled guest experience while speaking to operators’ greatest challenges. With over 20 years of experience connecting visitor-based attractions with technology solutions to empower their operations, Hambleton has a deep appreciation for technology’s ability to drive revenue, improve the guest experience and streamline operations.