Hospitality Technology – First impressions are important in every business, and this is particularly true of the restaurant industry. Guests crave a hospitable, comfortable experience while they eat, but what they don’t want is their precious time gobbled up by waiting.
Restaurants used to make their first impression when a customer walked through the door, but – thanks to technology – these first interactions now often occur before setting foot in the door. Websites, mobile apps, and online reservation systems have guests engaging with your brand before their meal begins. This article from CAKE will discuss three ways restaurants can use technology to create a good first impression on diners and reduce lost revenue.
Waitlist Technology
Using technology to engage customers and generate more revenue is a must for restaurants that hope to build long-term relationships. For example, is the process of making reservations simple and inviting for new and repeat diners? Do your wait times remain manageable and consistent even during busy periods? If your wait times are chaotic, or slow-moving, you will start to see potential customers become “walkaways” – that is, guests who give up on dining at your restaurant before they even sit down.
Proper waitlist management is essential for reducing walkaways. Because loyal diners bring in 80% of additional business, it’s important for restaurant operators to prioritize these customers by minimizing their wait times and engaging them while they wait. Proper waitlist management will ease congestion at your host stand, keep traffic flowing smoothly in and out of your restaurant, and most importantly, add more revenue to your bottom line.
In today’s busy world, your guests value efficiency. Some of them will be happy to wait 2 hours for a table, while others are rushing to make a meeting in 30 minutes. Either way, everyone appreciates the convenience of knowing exactly how long the wait will be without having to bug the host. A table management solution allows team members get a sense of your floor without having to run over and check each table manually. Quoting accurate wait times will reduce walkaways while showing your customers you value their time.
Hosts are trained to estimate accurate wait times, and – perhaps more importantly – to communicate them clearly and politely to every customer. Technology that accurately predicts wait times frees up your staff to deliver great service and convey expectations to diners. With accuracy and text notifications, customers are now free to wait from anywhere.
Mobile Solutions for Mobile Guests
Mobile apps are one of many great customer loyalty solutions restaurants are using, even if they’re not dining in on a given day. Organic advertising, like offering a free appetizer, is invaluable, and enables any customer to become a brand ambassador for your restaurant.
Waitlist features are a simple way to capture the loyalty of guests who have attended your restaurant even once; invite them to download the app so they’ll receive notifications when their table is ready. Downloading the app also allows guests to browse the menu, check their place in line, and even find special discounts while they wait.
This makes the host’s job easier, empowers your diners to walk around and enjoy the neighborhood, and best of all, it keeps you connected to your guests in the future. A wait list app not only reduces walkaways, it may also increase walk-ins!
Data Collection Builds Loyalty
Collecting unique data about each guest, using either a POS, table management software, or both empowers you to improve your restaurant guest management. Loyalty is about making each customer feel like a VIP. If your servers know a particular guest loves key lime pie, then mentioning that the restaurant is serving an excellent key lime pie tonight will make your guests feel welcome and an important part of your business.
Another way to use data collection is if your QSR suffers from walkaways during lunch every weekday, you will have the data insight to consider adding more seating to accommodate the rush. On the other hand, if your full service restaurant caters exclusively to business men who live out of state, why not drop off some menus or business cards in a nearby hotel?
The data you gather allows you to continue advertising and messaging customers with information that is relevant to them and their interests. If every communication you send your guest offers a clear value, you’ll cultivate an attitude of excitement when you send out newsletters, promos, and special offers.
Knowing what your customers prefer before they walk in is what compels diners to return time and again. As we all learned from the old TV theme song, “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.”