Nowadays digital technology is everywhere. It’s impacting our day to day life. The way we communicate with friends via WhatsApp or the way we book travel via AirBnb. Even the way we do banking has changed significantly, something that is so personal and important to us.
However, the whole digital revolution is somehow passing by the hospitality industry. The way a restaurant is operating nowadays is not very differently compared to let’s say 15 years ago. But are robots and digital technology now also knocking on the door of your restaurant?
Customer needs are constantly changing. These needs are also changing when people visit your restaurant or order your food. Think of allergies of people, or special diets that are followed. But also the need for service is changing. People expect service anytime anywhere, and that’s in your restaurant no difference. You have to adapt to these needs and improve what I call the “guest experience” to win the hearts and minds of your guests, otherwise you will be losing them.
Other industries have made this shift towards customer or guest experience already today. Think about what is happening in retail. The owner of a traditional mom & pop store needs to work harder and harder for less and less. Stores are disappearing. Why? Because buying at Amazon is more convenient. Amazon delivers a personalized experience with service when we want it and how we want it. Compare that to the hospitality business, nobody likes to wait to place an order, or even worse wait to pay the bill. Why can’t we fix this with digital technology?
There are some great examples how digital technology is used in the hospitality industry to increase guest experience. For example, there is a burger place in San Francisco called Creator. They will make you a burger while using a fully automated, robotic machine. You can choose between different burgers and customize it the way you want it. It’s fast and convenient. Another example is McDonalds which acquired Dynamic Yield recently. This is a company that can create more personalized experiences for drive-true’s.
But it does not have to be that difficult or costly as buying a company or building a machine. At Table Duck for example, we’ve built a chatbot that can take orders and payments from guests via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. All in an automated way. It’s a sort of digital employee that helps guests.
The key point I’m making is that you have to look around and be open for what digital technologies can do for your hospitality business. It would be a pity if you would miss out on technology that can help you to make that Wow moment for your guests. Think about it, 15 years ago nobody could guess that we would walk around with a smartphone all day, chatting with friends and doing banking business online.
Where to start is different for every company. There is no predefined playbook for success. But what you should do is identify your biggest challenges. Then jump to Google and see if there is a digital solution for your challenge. I’ll bet you that you will be surprised about the solutions.
Robbert Bregman — Co-Founder of Table Duck