Technology plays a pivotal role in all aspects of hospitality
Will Jackson, Mr Yum’s Head of Sales for ANZ & UK, says there will be a realisation that technology can add great value to the sector.
“The biggest misconception is that technology gets in the way of hospitality. Good technology can improve the experience, whereas technology used poorly is just poor tech. It should enhance rather than detract from the experience. We see technology as looking after the service elements, and hospitality is the feeling the customer gets. Tech effectively just deals with the admin while your people can focus on the customer,” he says.
Tech boosts hospitality in all restaurants
Such thinking can equally be applied to fine dining venues, according to Jackson, who says: “We’re all about giving consumers a choice. Not all consumers in fine dining want technology. In some real [high-end] fine dining restaurants, the meal is curated, and there might be a way to bring technology into this curation. Restaurateurs should look at whether there are any low-value elements that technology can help with?”
Edward Bonnett, Sales & Customer Success Director at OrderPay, agrees there is an opportunity in this area: “If technology can help kill off any awkward bits, like the payment part, then so be it. We work with a few fine-dining restaurants for this very reason. Technology is not taking anything away from the staff, it’s there to help them deliver a better customer experience.”
Multi-channel ordering drives complexity
Technology can also play a valuable role in the kitchen and will be increasingly adopted in the future by food service companies seeking to improve the efficiency of their operations. Amelia Jones, Director of Product at Karakuri, says there has been a radical increase in complexity in the kitchen as a result of the rise of online ordering and delivery.
“There has been a re-jig in kitchens as they now have to handle deliveries, takeaway orders, as well as dine-in customers. The complexity this brings is having an effect on food quality, with standards slipping because there is more to organise. This multi-channel situation is adding back-of-house complexity, and restaurants are now looking at technology, KMS (Kitchen Management Software) and smart equipment. We’re now seeing robots linked into the KMS and Point-of-Sale, which is helping the people working in the kitchen,” she explains.
These changes around the way people now order their food are very much understood by Nick Liddle, Commercial Director at Vita Mojo, who says the application of technology has to be fundamentally driven seamless experiences for diners.
“It’s not about technology, it's about how it's applied. It needs to be designed to create a great customer experience as well as increasing the efficiency and cutting costs for the business. It’s almost more about change management, and we need to get the people [running restaurants] to understand the journey they are on. This bit has to be seamless; otherwise, sustainable change won’t be created,” he says.
Realising the value of data
One of the challenges with implementing such changes centres on the fact that marketing and operations typically “don’t trust each other”, according to Jackson, the future of technology will involve bridging the gap between the operations and marketing functions. Building a link between the two groups will enable data to be used to deliver a tailored experience to customers.
“It’s about curating the experience for guests. If it is their first or second visit or they are a regular visitor, then they should each have a different experience. This only works if there is data available [from the operations team] and that the marketing team then trust it,” he says, adding that mechanisms such as web sign-ups and accessing free Wi-Fi are too often seen as a “product function” but Jackson argues they should be seen as “product value” in terms of them creating valuable data from which actionable insights can be derived.
He suggests that far too many businesses are failing to recognise the value of data and that this is a missed opportunity: “The data that is collected can be used to help further enhance the customer experience even when the customer has gone beyond the front door. Technology can even carry hospitality beyond the dining room.”