From consideration, arrival to departure, technology now plays a role at every stage of the customer journey in venues with two in five (40%) of people agreeing that technology has improved their hospitality experiences.
The report identifies safety is no longer the main benefit of technology in hospitality for consumers. Instead people rated the top benefits as: speed and convenience (31% of people rated this as their top benefit), ease of ordering (29%) and tracking orders (17%).
“Although many aspects of hospitality were gradually becoming more digitised even before the pandemic, the last 12 months have certainly accelerated this adoption,” said Alison Vasey, Group Product Director at leading hospitality technology provider, Zonal. “What this new research shows is that having accepted the technology, consumers now see how it improves their hospitality experiences. This is because technology not only removes pain points that have always existed, such as not being able to get the attention of a server or having to wait too long to settle the bill, but it also helps operators deliver more tailored and personalised experiences to their guests. Letting technology take some of the strain of service also frees up staff to concentrate on those elements that consumers rate so highly like greeting guests and swiftly answering queries.”
The report shows that over half of consumers(51%) prefer to be welcomed in person when they arrive and demonstrates how integrated technology can help operators personalise arrivals—by showing guests to their preferred table or suggesting menu items based on past orders.
When it comes to ordering, the research reveals the top three guest frustrations are: struggling to get the server’s attention (30% of respondents); items they want not being available (22%), and being rushed to place their order (18%), all of which can be solved through the adoption of technology. Digital solutions can free-up servers to spend more valuable time with guests, for example, while digital ordering processes can ensure servers have access to real-time stock levels and other crucial information to help them answer customer queries. Furthermore, integrating front and back-of-house technology can address other frustrations such as waiting too long for food (24% of people said waiting too long was the most frustrating aspect of eating out).
And when it comes to paying the bill, technology can help remove a frequent pain point here too, with 18% of customers thinking that being able to pay immediately, and the same number stating that being able to pay via a wide choice of options, are the most important aspects of settling bills.
Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, added: “As they get back to eating and drinking out, consumers will be engaging with technology more deeply than ever before, and it is going to be a key battleground for market share in 2021 and beyond. Ensuring that all digital solutions provide a genuine benefit, and balancing them with the face-to-face elements of hospitality that people have missed so much, will be crucial. The businesses that can make best use of tech at both front and back of house could well be the quickest to recover in the months ahead.”
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