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Tech Is The Way Forward For Restaurant Success

There’s one thing for sure coming out of the NRA show, everyone is re-evaluating how to manage guest expectations - how to match them and meet them.

David “Rev” Ciancio, Tim McLaughlin & Johann Moonesinghe covered a lot of ground; i.e., how guest expectations have changed since the pandemic; how that impacts restaurants and how operators’ response is impacting their guests.

Restaurants are having a pretty massive evolution - NRA show was incredibly tech oriented -Everyone is re-evaluating how they manage their guest journey.

Here's a rundown of the questions and a few key takeaways. Check out the video. It's an easy listen and you'll learn a lot.

What is the most significant change in guest expectation since the pandemic?

  • Adoption of technology and customer expectation that they don't need to wait to order or pay.
  • QRs went from a totally unacceptable technology to pretty much here to stay.
  • Expectations have been set in a new way- QRs that don't do anything other than share a PDF are a net dis-satisfier. Guests expect to be able to control their experience using tech.

What is the lowest hanging fruit to improve efficiency of the guest experience?

  • Not forcing people to leave or stop their experience to place an order or get what they want. Giving them control through tech yields a 2 to 3x increase, particularly in large dining or entertainment venues.
  • Communication- 2-way communication via SMS is a game changer for service-focused restaurants (on-premises or off-premises); you should be able to trace every order back to a number that connects to a real person. Because instead of assuming the "Happy Path" for every order, you need to acknowledge that something is always going to go wrong, and you need to be able to respond to when it does.

What are some examples of broken guest journeys?

  • Gift cards that only work at POS, they don't work online. That's just not acceptable. Just because you have a different online ordering system and different POS, that's not an excuse to inconvenience the guest.
  • Expectation Setting- On GoTab we tell the guest how long their order is going to take. If you were interacting with a server, they'd steer you to an option that fits your time. Why not expect the same from your restaurant tech platform?

What is the "Tech Stack" of the future?

  • Traditionally the POS was the foundation of the restaurant tech stack. Those days are gone.
  • From a guest standpoint, the phone should be viewed as the center.
  • When you start from the mobile phone, the next logical place is the CRM
  • With a CRM you get to know your guests more intimately. What they're ordering. How to communicate with them. But that's only if they use their phone in-venue.
  • Most restaurants generate the majority of their revenue in-venue but know less about them than they do the people who order online.
  • Enabling mobile ordering for dine-in will help you start to understand your customer better.

How do you design products to enable the guest experience?

  • Try not to be everything to everybody; restaurants have had to become sophisticated in their use of technology, to be able to get everything they need in one system.
  • inKind is great at funding restaurants, then partnering with the system of the restaurant so that the guest has a seamless experience. For example, guests using a house account can pay with GoTab.

How do you see technology being useful in higher end restaurants?

  • There are no high-end restaurants who put a QR on the table. But some of their customers would like it. We see a scenario where you can open a tab with a text message that allows the guest to pay without having to wait for a server. Paying is the worst part of the experience. Why make a guest wait around for that?
  • Another area is improvements in the kitchen. There is a lot of room for technical optimization- using kitchen displays for example- to help improve communication inside the kitchen.
  • Taking the kitchen management process away from the verbal to more predictive modeling of timing, queuing, etc. can result in as much as 30 percent efficiency gain in the kitchen and 50 percent on food running. Allow the system to do what it does best, which is sorting and batching information.
  • At a high-end restaurant, the chef should be spending time on the floor connecting with customers. Technology that allows the chef to be more efficient lets them get that face-time.
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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.

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