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How hospitality operators can dig data for treasure: Access Group

Integration between services is the answer and technology holds the key.

Harry Fallows, hospitality software consultant for Access Group, a leading software provider to the UK hospitality industry, explains how hospitality operators can dig data for treasure.

The restaurant industry has seen something of a technical revolution over recent years and savvy operators are adopting the latest advances which best suit their needs. For example, today’s intelligent EPoS systems, are so technologically advanced, however, are still being widely overlooked.

It’s all about technology and today’s gadgets are providing the smart solutions. For example, the ability to take orders from a tablet that sends information straight through to a kitchen video system, is at the moment one of the forerunners in restaurant innovation. Hospitality operators have access to tablets and EPoS systems that are completely configurable to allow conversational ordering with customers, whilst kitchen screens help maintain speed of service and guarantee accurate orders.

Operators should be looking to adopt EPoS systems which address any pain points in the customer journey to ensure every transaction is seamless. The ideal EPoS system will offer the operator a completely configurable front-end, ensuring it is quick and easy for front-of-house teams to use, and in turn connected to integrated contactless payment or loyalty apps – making life simpler for the customer.

Integration is the buzzword amongst suppliers in the technology sphere and increasingly, operators are demanding it amongst their suppliers. With this in mind, why are restaurant operators pushing the ‘integration card’ and what benefits does it bring to their business?

It is important for operators to allow technological integration across loyalty, delivery, pre-ordering, reservations and customer feedback channels. When operators have oversight of this transactional data, they can analyse patterns of customer behaviour, which in turn enables them to deliver accurate marketing campaigns specifically aimed at the target customer.

How does the customer benefit from an integrated dining experience?

Customers benefit from integration because it allows a seamless experience from pre-ordering, right through to delivery. They know exactly what to expect from the operator and can tailor their experience using or collecting loyalty rewards, knowing how long they will spend waiting for their meal and how accurate the order will be, which is priceless for today’s time-poor customer.

What are the benefits for restaurant operators of a real-time 100% cloud-based EPoS solution?

Since the development of cloud-based EPoS systems, the technology has become so agile that hospitality operators no longer need to refer to historic data patterns to predict imminent business needs. With these real-time solutions, it is now easier than ever for them to manage operations, whilst also reporting from anywhere around the world - on any device. The real beauty is that operations teams can keep a close eye on service, and finance teams, business owners and investors have instant access to current figures at any given time.

How do operators upsell through their EPoS?

Smart EPoS systems are able to relay the data input during a transaction to provide conversational ordering prompts on the till or tablet. Alternatively, product information can be built into the system, which allows front-of-house teams to read more about which wines go well with which dishes, where products come from and what other menu items go well with them. Additionally, as consumers become ever more health conscious, the technology will give access to allergen and ingredient information, available to operators on an integrated app.

Should an operator be marketing to existing customers through their EPoS, and if so, why and how?

Operators should be looking to take advantage of the plethora of integrated products available, which will ensure they can capitalise on the wealth of customer data the technology is able to collect on individual preferences. This data allows restaurants to personalise their marketing efforts to make it more meaningful to the customer, which is all based on reliable trend analysis.

To give you an example, using transactional data, hospitality operators can identify which customers opt to buy say a coffee and a muffin at 8am on a Tuesday. This insight ensures operators can push an offer to entice them in at that time. Additionally, some operators are now adopting beacon technology, which plays on traditional advertising tactics by getting into the customer’s line of sight, however, taking the idea a step further by alerting customers via mobile to nearby, relevant offers at a time the operator knows would be attractive to the individual. Customers are increasingly turning away from guess-based advertising, whether it’s coming at them on the street or appearing online, causing a modern epidemic of brand-distaste - indeed many are embracing an element of personalisation to cut through the noise.

In this growing age of personalisation, how can operators personalise the experience for each individual customer through their EPoS?

Conversational ordering and intuitive up selling prompts are available in some EPoS systems to enhance the customer personalisation experience at the point of sale. Systems can be configured on a product-by-product basis, so during a transaction, staff will only ask the customer the right questions at the right time of the day for the right product.

In the true spirit of competition amongst front-of-house teams, how can operators inspire teams to drive more sales through EPoS data and technology?

Product prompts and upsells can be reported to see which members of the front-of-house team engage the most with customers to achieve the highest number of upsells. Functions can also be built into the smartest EPoS systems which allow teams to simply hit the ‘re-order’ button, promptly repeating a last round of drinks, whilst increasing the average spend per head and driving customer satisfaction.

To summarise, an agile, intuitive EPoS system allows hospitality operators to future-proof their businesses. It is impossible to predict what the next wave of consumer-driven technology will be. In such competitive times, operators need to ensure their systems are open and ready for integration, so that they can respond quickly, which in turn will keep them not only front-of-mind with customers, but most importantly, relevant.

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