COVID-19 has pushed technology to centre stage in hospitality this year, and CGA’s Big Peach 2020 Digital Experience brought together experts to discuss ways it has changed consumer engagement and operations. Here are seven of them.
Technology has been at the heart of work to keep guests and staff safe this year. CGA’s third-quarter Business Confidence Survey with Fourth shows it was a leading focus in the reopening of businesses after the spring lockdown for half (48%) of business leaders. Fourth’s solutions director Susannah Edgley said rigorous safety precautions were rewarded with sales and loyalty. “Businesses that adapt and face the challenge of ensuring the safety of guests are reaping the benefits.”
Safety concerns have led consumers to put more planning into restaurant, pub and bar visits—and technology has helped businesses respond. There was a surge in reservations in the weeks after the UK’s first lockdown in July, with only a quarter (28%) of guests vising venues without one, and demand will be even higher in December. “Tech platforms have become the backbone of the new consumer journey… People are planning visits with an increased level of scrutiny,” said Graeme Loudon, CGA’s managing director EMEA & APAC.
Hygiene and the need for table service have also led to a revolution in mobile-based ordering and payment. The latest GO Technology report from CGA and Zonal shows 43% of consumers have typically used order and pay-at-table tech since venues reopened in July—more than double the pre-lockdown figure (18%). “Order and pay at table is fast becoming the norm,” said Graeme Loudon.
With CGA’s research showing food delivery flourishing in 2020, technology has been key to unlocking valuable sales. As well as facilitating orders, tech can support operators’ logistics, said Alison Vasey, group product director at Zonal. “You have to make sure you’ve got the capability to fulfil your orders.”
Digital platforms have given consumers more opportunities than ever to tell brands what they think of their experiences. Acting on that is crucial, said Mike Stringer, productivity director at the Big Table Group. “You can have as much data as you like, but it’s what you do with it that’s important.” Alison Vasey agreed brands needed to be smart in using data. “Start with the end in mind and before you even capture any data, know how you want to use it.”
6 Back of house
Beyond consumer-facing technology, digital solutions can help operators improve back-of-house work like inventory, workforce and kitchen management, said Mike Stringer. “We’re investing in things… that take away a lot of the grunt work.”
7 Voice search
Panellists agreed that voice search could be the next big thing in consumers’ engagement with technology. “We need to start building that capability… to take bookings or orders by voice,” said Alison Vasey. “Customers are changing the way they interact with our businesses, and we need to stay ahead of the game,” agreed Susannah Edgley.
To watch the Big Peach 2020 Digital Experience’s technology session in full, watch below or click here