Best Practices

Shift Happens! Tips For Restaurant Hybrid Service Models

Shift Happens is GoTab’s new webinar series, meticulously designed to navigate through the rapidly evolving landscape of hospitality service models. It's more than just a series of webinars—it's a deep dive into the very heart of how the hospitality industry is transforming in real-time. With each episode, we peel back the layers of traditional service methods to reveal the cutting-edge technologies that are propelling businesses towards more efficient, agile, and ultimately, more profitable service experiences. These aren't just incremental changes; they're seismic shifts in how hospitality providers interact with their customers, manage their operations, and envision the future of dining, accommodation, and entertainment services. From AI-driven customer service platforms to IoT-enhanced dining experiences, Shift Happens is the beacon for those looking to not just keep pace with the industry but to lead the charge into a new era of hospitality excellence.

In our first webinar recorded on April 17, we had the privilege of engaging in-depth discussions with three visionary operators from the independent hospitality sector. These pioneers are at the forefront of adapting to rapidly changing consumer expectations for both speed and efficiency in service delivery, all while intricately weaving in the latest technology to create seamless and memorable guest experiences. Their tactical use of Pocket/Handheld Point of Sale (POS) systems, the implementation of 100% guest-driven QR ordering systems, and the innovative “QR-free” guest-led ordering and payment solutions like Easy Tab, stand as testaments to their commitment to innovation.

Each operator shared their unique journey and practical insights into how they've seamlessly integrated these technologies into their operations, not just as tools for efficiency, but as integral components of their service ethos. They demonstrated how embracing these technologies has not only enhanced operational flow but also significantly elevated the guest experience. This session, rich with real-life examples and practical strategies, shed light on the tangible benefits of adopting a hybrid service model that marries the best of human touch with technological efficiency. Through their stories, attendees gained a vivid understanding of how these technologies are not mere gadgets, but powerful enablers of personalized, efficient, and responsive service delivery that meets the modern diner’s expectations.

Here’s a peak at what we covered:

Morgan O'Sullivan at FlyteCo Brewing in CO delved deep into the art of human interaction in the age of digital service, focusing on how to make all guests feel comfortable and catered to, even those who might shy away from QR ordering or self-service technologies. O'Sullivan emphasized the importance of the initial greeting as a critical moment of connection, suggesting that staff should approach guests with an open, friendly demeanor that signals willingness to assist in any way possible. He proposed starting with a warm, "Welcome! How would you like to explore our menu today? We have digital and assisted options for your convenience." This approach not only acknowledges the guest's potential unfamiliarity with technology but also places the power of choice firmly in their hands.

Furthermore, O'Sullivan shared strategies for staff to adeptly gauge a guest's ordering preferences without making assumptions. He recommended observing subtle cues, such as if guests are scanning the table for QR codes or menus, or if they seem hesitant and look around for assistance. In these moments, staff can gently offer help by saying, "If you prefer, I can guide you through our menu and help you place your order directly." This strategy ensures that all guests, regardless of their comfort level with technology, feel valued and respected. O'Sullivan's insights underscore the importance of blending the efficiency of technology with the irreplaceable warmth of human service, creating a hybrid model that truly meets every guest's needs and preferences.

O'Sullivan  also took the webinar attendees behind the scenes of Flyte Co Brewing's innovative approach to managing the unpredictable nature of customer traffic and the challenges of Colorado’s ever-changing weather patterns. He detailed how they have harnessed the power of dynamic print routing along with a sophisticated Kitchen Display System (KDS) to maintain a seamless service flow, regardless of sudden influxes of customers or abrupt weather changes affecting their sprawling outdoor patio.

O'Sullivan explained how the goal is to ensure that every guest enjoys an exceptional experience, rain or shine. To achieve this, they’ve implemented a dynamic print routing system that intelligently directs orders to the appropriate preparation stations, whether that's the main kitchen, the bar, or any number of stations throughout their three-level venue. This means their team can adapt in real-time, ensuring that food and drink orders are processed efficiently and accurately, no matter how busy they get.

He further elaborated on the critical role of their Kitchen Display System in this process. "The KDS is the heartbeat of our operation. It provides our kitchen and service staff with real-time updates on order status, table numbers, and special requests. During sudden weather changes, which are not uncommon here in Colorado, we might need to quickly relocate guests from our patio to indoor seating. Our KDS helps us manage these transitions smoothly, ensuring that orders follow the guest, and there's minimal disruption to the service."

O'Sullivan shared a recent success story where FlyteCo Brewing faced an unexpected rain storm. "Thanks to our dynamic system, we were able to swiftly reroute orders and communicate changes among our teams. Guests were amazed at how we maintained our service standards without skipping a beat, even as the skies opened up."

This insightful discussion underscored the importance of flexible, technology-driven solutions in modern hospitality settings, particularly for venues with significant outdoor seating areas. Through Morgan O'Sullivan's strategies and experiences, webinar attendees gained valuable insights into how advanced systems like dynamic print routing and KDS can transform service delivery, enhancing both operational efficiency and guest satisfaction, regardless of external challenges.

Chad Biel, owner of Charleston, SC’s Bohemian Bull, engaged the webinar participants with his innovative approach to enhancing guest service through the strategic use of handheld Point of Sale (POS) devices. In an era where the traditional exchange of a physical check is becoming less common, Biel has pioneered a method that not only meets this shift but elevates the entire dining experience. He detailed how these handheld devices have become a crucial tool in facilitating a more intimate and efficient connection between staff and customers.

Biel elaborated on the direct impact of handheld POS systems on customer service and operational efficiency. He explained, "The beauty of these devices lies in their ability to bridge the gap between speed and personal interaction. Our staff can complete transactions at the table, offering guests the convenience of not having to wait for a check or make a trip to the cash register. This immediacy not only heightens the sense of personal attention but also significantly reduces the time guests spend waiting to receive their orders, enhancing their overall experience."

Moreover, Biel shared how these devices have revolutionized the way Bohemian Bull manages its dining space. "By streamlining the payment process, we've seen a noticeable improvement in table turnover times without sacrificing the quality of our service. This efficiency allows us to serve more guests, especially during our peak hours, without the need for additional staffing. It's a win-win for both our business and our customers."

He also touched upon the subtler benefits of utilizing handheld POS devices, such as the ability to instantly access menu information, make recommendations based on real-time data, and accommodate special requests on the fly. This level of agility and personalization, Biel argued, strengthens the bond between staff and guests, creating a more memorable and satisfying dining experience.

Biel's concluded with a discussion on the future of hospitality service, emphasizing that the integration of technology, when done thoughtfully, does not detract from the human element of dining out. Instead, it enhances it by allowing staff to focus more on guest interaction and less on the mechanics of service delivery. Through his insights, attendees gained a comprehensive understanding of the transformative power of handheld POS systems in creating efficient, personalized, and connected dining experiences.

The entire group engaged in a dynamic exploration of how the evolving landscape of wage rates and labor regulations across the country is fundamentally altering their strategic approach to service delivery. They collectively acknowledged that the traditional playbook, heavily reliant on increasing staff numbers to elevate hospitality levels, is becoming less viable in the face of these changes. Instead, there's a palpable shift towards a more nuanced strategy that interweaves training, technology, and innovative service models as cornerstone elements to not only navigate but thrive amidst these shifts.

This enlightened approach is driven by the recognition that, as wage rates rise and labor laws become more complex, the cost of traditional staffing models can quickly become unsustainable. In response, these forward-thinking operators are leveraging technology not as a replacement for human interaction but as an enhancement. By integrating sophisticated systems like handheld POS devices, dynamic print routing, and Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), they're able to streamline operations, reduce the reliance on large staff numbers, and still deliver a personalized and memorable guest experience.

Training, too, has taken on a new level of importance. With the introduction of advanced technologies and the need for a more adaptable service model, staff now require a broader skill set that goes beyond the basics of service etiquette. This includes technological proficiency, flexibility in service delivery, and a deeper understanding of how to engage with guests in a hybrid service environment. Investing in comprehensive training programs ensures that staff are not only confident in using new technologies but are also adept at maintaining the warmth and personal touch that dining experiences are known for.

Moreover, the discussion highlighted the innovative service models that are emerging as a direct response to these industry and guest preference changes. Concepts like guest-driven QR ordering, "QR-free" self-guided ordering and payment solutions, and the strategic use of technology to manage fluctuating customer traffic and weather challenges underscore a shift towards more agile, efficient, and guest-centric service approaches. These models not only address the operational challenges posed by changing wage rates and labor regulations – such as the elimination of the tip credit system in many major municipalities like Washington, DC and Chicago, IL, – but also cater to the evolving preferences of modern diners who value convenience, speed, and personalization.

The entire group concluded that, in this new era of hospitality, staying ahead of the curve means embracing change and looking beyond traditional methods. By focusing on training, technology, and innovative service models, they are not only adapting to the changing economic landscape but are also setting new standards for excellence in hospitality. This strategic pivot is not just about survival; it's about redefining what it means to deliver exceptional service in a rapidly evolving industry.

To view the full webinar recording, go to the Shift Happens webinar page.

If you’d like to be notified of upcoming Shift Happens webinars, subscribe to the GoTab newsletter.

Tap Room Playbook: Check Your Experience

Tap Room Playbook Episode 2: 

When you really think about it, with everything managers need to do in a tap room, the hospitality aspect is often overlooked.

Watch Now →
Tap Room Playbook: Kick A** Brands

Tap Room Playbook Episode 3: 

The best breweries pay attention to what their brand stands for. How do the best brewers bring their brand to life?

Watch Now →

Situated “in the heart of it all, yet tranquil enough to make you feel away from it all too,” The Limelight Hotel Snowmass offers 99 hotel rooms and 11 residences, as well as footsteps-to-gondola access in winter and summer — right in the middle of Snowmass Base Village.

The Situation

Especially over the last few years, the Limelight Hotels IT team had witnessed a significant shift to contactless technology in the hospitality industry. After evaluating friction points in the guest journey, aligning with modern technology platforms in their restaurant was determined to be an effective way to offer elevated contactless dining experiences to their guests while also evolving their technology platforms to continue to support long-term company goals. Limelight Hotel partnered with GoTab to provide an enhanced on-demand dining experience on par with the brand’s reputation for exceptional guest service.

The Solution

Reducing Staff Touch Points Without Sacrificing Guest Experience

Guests are now able to begin a tab from their room or the property’s restaurant by scanning a QR code, texting a link to friends or family members on the ski slope to add in their orders, then meeting up together at the patio or lodge to enjoy their meal and après ski festivities without interruption. By streamlining tasks like inputting orders and processing payments, this eliminates friction for hotel staff and allows them to focus on delivering renowned guest service for a memorable experience. Since partnering with GoTab, Limelight Snowmass has consistently seen higher check averages and sales.

“We found the Point of Sale platforms we were looking at offered the guest and staff limited opportunities to further reduce touch points or improve the traditional restaurant experience. The GoTab platform enabled the guest to take an active role over the flow of their experience while simultaneously reducing touch points and further streamlining restaurant operations.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

According to the Limelight Hotels team, some of the other platforms that were evaluated were either missing some of the pieces they were looking for, had weak customer support models, or had little willingness to develop integrations to existing hotel platforms already in place. To that end, GoTab integrated with cloud-based platform, Infor. Together, GoTab and Infor are providing dynamic solutions to support central, efficient service across hotel amenities and deliver exceptional guest experiences.

“Previously, guests would call down to the restaurant to begin an order from their room or while they were out enjoying the ski slopes. Using GoTab, guests can now place orders from anywhere on the resort, giving them the on-demand service they want without interrupting their day. GoTab empowers us to give control to the guest, reducing touch points and streamlining overall restaurant operations, making Limelight Hotel the resort of choice for Snowmass.”Nick Giglio, Manager of Hotel IT Operations, The Little Nell Hotel Group

Since introducing GoTab, The Limelight Hotel has seen a consistent level of upsells and items sold per check resulting in additional revenue capture. They have been able to maintain service levels in their restaurants during periods when there was reduced staffing available without significantly diminishing the guest experience.

The Benefits

Eliminate Phone Orders – Take Orders from the Slopes. Guests can start a tab from their room or on the mountain without interrupting the flow of their day.

Future-Proofed Technologies – Delivering elevated contactless ordering via integration with the Infor hotel management platform.

Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.
  • Eliminating Friction in the Guest Journey – Maintaining service levels during periods of reduced staff without diminishing the guest experience.

Request a Demo

Ready to experience GoTab for yourself? Sign up for a free demo and get qualified to receive a complimentary meal on us!
Request a Demo