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How Tech Can Help Restaurants Treat Every Guest Like a VIP

Picture the scene: a couple walk into the same restaurant they’ve gone to for the last twenty years. The staff greet them by name, immediately sit them at their favourite table by the window and ask if they want their usual. A few minutes later, their usual choice of starters arrive, with one glass of sparkling and one of still water. It seems almost inconceivable that such interactions can be reproduced outside of the warmly lit, familiar confines of a local, family-run favourite.

However, thanks to today’s data-driven hospitality platforms, such instances of personalisation can be reproduced at scale in any restaurant across the world. We’ve looked at three areas where restaurants should use technology to personalise their guests’ experiences.

Treat every guest like a regular

Although the level of personalised service described above seems as though it is dependent on incredibly nuanced human interactions, it can be broken down into a series of data points including guests’ preferences, seating arrangements, and food and drink favourites. By cataloguing this information on a technology platform, restaurants can ensure that every member of the service team has the data they need to personalise a guest’s experience. This means that regardless of who is on shift or which restaurant location a guest visits, they will still be treated to the same highly personalised experience.

To give an example, imagine a restaurant has employed the same maître d’ for over a decade. They know all the regulars and have become as indispensable to the overall restaurant experience as the food itself. Now suppose this maître d’ called in sick one day and a new team member has to take over his or her position at the front of house.

Restaurants that don’t have their guests’ data readily stored and accessible on a technology platform would be in a bind, unable to provide the same high level of service that their loyal customers have become accustomed to receiving. However, operators who have leveraged an operations- and data-focused hospitality technology platform would still be able to greet their regulars by name, show them to their favourite table and ensure they receive the same high standard of service they are used to — without even having to ask.

As shown by a recent investigation, regulars can account for up to 40% of a restaurants’ total revenue. This makes it even more crucial to maintain strong relationships with repeat guests. Using personalisation platforms to ensure that these loyal guests’ individual needs are consistently met is a highly effective way to make sure your regulars keep coming back for more.

Personalise your menus

People order what they like to eat when they go to a restaurant. This may seem obvious — even redundant — but focusing on the these guest preferences opens up an array of data-led opportunities for personalising food and drink menus for each of your guests. By looking at point of sale data from previous visits, restaurants can determine what types of food and drink their guests like; so, if a repeat customer always orders a pasta dish, then these menu items should be placed front and centre for future visits.

When personalising menus, restaurants must remember to cater to guests’ dietary and allergy requirements. In practice, this means that guests tagged as vegan won’t be shown animal-based dishes.

Looking to the future, when menus become increasingly digitised, the entire menu will be personalisable to each guest so that dishes which don’t match with a guest’s dietary or allergy requirements won’t even be shown. By leveraging customer data to personalise guests’ experiences in this way, restaurants can ensure that they always serve up the most relevant food suggestions to their guests.

This can also be applied to wine and drinks menus. By looking at guests’ previous drinks data, staff and sommeliers can determine what types of wine and at which price point will appeal most to a particular guest.

Give guests a reason to engage

The key to getting your guests to open your marketing emails is to give them a reason to – and this reason is personalisation. A 2017 Evergage survey found that 88% of marketers measured a lift in engagement following personalised email campaigns. As such, personalisation should be top of mind for restaurants looking to use technology to innovate how they interact with their guests.

One of the simplest ways to personalise your marketing to each guest – and make them feel valued – is to send personalised emails around birthdays, anniversaries or other special events, offering guests something tailored to their exact preferences.

Whether that’s a free glass of their usual bubbly or their favourite starter on the house to celebrate the occasion, combining guests’ personal information with point of sale data can create powerful, personalised email campaigns. Doing this manually would be time-intensive, even for the most experienced marketer. However, all-in-one operations and marketing platforms allow restaurants to leverage guest data to create impactful campaigns – automatically.

Personalisation shouldn’t be limited to birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions. Restaurant technology platforms also have the capability to automatically segment guest profiles into behaviour-based categories built on criteria set by individual restaurants. This could include tagging a guest who’s visited 10 times in two months with a ‘regular’ tag, someone who’s spent £3,000 in six months as a ‘high-spender,’ or a five-star reviewer as a ‘positive reviewer.’

Using these tags, innovative restaurant technology companies can also automate the sending of personalised emails based on these individual segments. For instance, regulars can be rewarded with special experiences for their loyalty, while positive reviewers can be incentivised to visit again with a complimentary glass of wine next time they book. By targeting marketing by segment, restaurants can massively improve open and click-through rates, helping turn first-time diners into repeat regulars.

Embracing technology is one of the most effective ways restaurants can improve guest experience. Whether operators are trying to perfect and personalise front of house service, ensure their food and drink offerings always appeal to guests, or boost the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, data-led hospitality platforms can help restaurants ensure they are embracing each and every guest.

By Joel Montaniel, CEO & Co-Founder at SevenRooms

About the Author

Joel Montaniel is the CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms, where he leads business strategy and sales. Prior to founding SevenRooms in 2011, Montaniel served as Chief of Staff at LivePerson, leading strategic, operational and cultural initiatives. He started his career at Credit Suisse within the Real Estate, Finance & Securitization Group. He graduated with a B.A. from Georgetown University.

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