Well over nine in ten leaders think tech will be fundamental (33%), important (39%) or fairly important (24%) to their operations after lockdown. It will be prominent at both front and back of house, with more than half of leaders planning to deploy it to drive loyalty (68%), manage labour costs (60%), drive team engagement (58%) and gather guest insight (53%).
The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the take-up of technology in hospitality, and leaders feel much more confident with it as a result. While half (52%) have experienced difficulties around integration, this has dropped ten percentage points from the figure in the 2020 Business Leaders’ Survey (52%). Numbers feeling frustrated with data overload (down from 57% to 38%) and the speed of implementation (down from 48% to 32%) have tumbled too.
Presenting the results of the survey at a recent webinar, CGA’s research and insight director Charlie Mitchell said: “Technology’s going to help across the board. Given the volatility of the market, labour scheduling is going to be key, and technology can really support that in the first few weeks of reopening.”
He added: “2020 was clearly a year of rapid adoption of technology, a lot of it driven by necessity, and frustrations with it have fallen dramatically. New technologies have been brought on board far quicker than before, and it’s really helped not just the customer journey but operational aspects as well.”
CGA’s research has tracked a sea change in consumers’ use of technology over the last 12 months, and the number of people using mobile devices to plan, order and pay for food and drink has soared. The Business Leaders’ Survey shows how operators are planning to take advantage of the planning trend in particular, and nearly two thirds (62%) think it will have a positive impact on their business.
Managing bookings will be crucial as pent-up demand for hospitality visits is released, and there will be great opportunities to collect data, engage with guests and upsell, Charlie Mitchell said. “Investing in those systems now will really pay off.”
Max Tucker, director of analytics, EMEA at Fourth, told the webinar that operators had been using lockdowns to think afresh about how technology can manage input costs and forecast demand. “The last 12 months has been a period of discovery… a chance to challenge how we schedule labour and menus,” he said. “Technology will have a big part to play in understanding the trading environment when things open again, because it’s so hard to predict what the demand is going to be… and that’s where the data is so important.”
CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey is supported by Fourth. It was carried out from 5 to 15 February alongside research for UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping, with a total of 726 responses.
For more information about the Business Leaders’ Survey, including bespoke analysis to help suppliers and operators optimise strategies for recovery in 2021, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To watch a full replay of the Business Leaders’ Survey webinar, click here.