In a recent interview with On Foodable Weekly, Jon Taffer talked about how technology is re-shaping the hospitality industry. Taffer, host of “Bar Rescue” was attending the 2015 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas. So, naturally, he was referring to technology in bars and nightclubs.
Hi-tech innovation can enhance the customer experience. In a nightclub, these include programmable lights, a digital jukebox and electronic drink glasses. But, Taffer says that those elements can never replace the reason that customers come in the first place. In the case of bars, it’s social interaction.
It might be a novelty to have a cocktail mixed and served by a robot, as with the Bionic Bar aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship. After all, that’s why people go on vacation – to experience something new. But back in the real world, it would seem impersonal and would subtract from a feeling of friendly, individual service.
Whether in a nightclub, a restaurant or an amusement park, the technology we utilize should enhance the customer experience, not detract from it.
We go to restaurants for most than just food
It’s the same with restaurants. There are all sorts of technologies that can enhance the customer experience, while improving operations at the same time.
Waitlist applications like On Cue for Restaurants (OCR) work together with guest pagers and mobile phones, allowing guests to move freely while waiting for their table. They can sit and relax, take a stroll outside, or even enjoy a refreshing beverage in the bar. For fast casual eateries, mobile apps and electronic kiosks allow guests to place their own orders either before they arrive or while they wait for a table.
Once they’ve been seated, table location technologies like Table Tracker tell the kitchen and food runners exactly where to take the food the moment it’s ready. This way, diners get their meals while the food is freshest and tastiest. Customers can even give immediate feedback using digital guest surveys, right at the table before they leave.
Efficiency is good, but it’s not the end game
These devices also make restaurant operations smoother, more efficient and more profitable.
They manage the guest waiting list, coordinating multiple hosts and dining rooms. They encourage more sales of high-margin items like drinks and appetizers. They make table location and turnover a breeze. And they even make it more likely that guests will provide useful feedback without having to sift through paper comment cards each month.
What’s crucial is that these solutions make the guest experience more enjoyable – without getting in the way. Technology should enhance the relationship between the customer and the business, not replace it.
It’s about their experience, not ours
Sometimes we get focused on how technology increases efficiency, cuts costs or reduces staffing. When applied the right way within hospitality services such as restaurants, bars, hotels, even doctor’s offices and hospitals, it can do all these things.
But never forget that hospitality means we cater to our customer’s experience. Without a great experience, the customers won’t come back. All the efficiency in the world won’t make up for that.
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Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.