It may be Happy Holidays for the public but for operators, it’s one of your busiest times of year. So in the spirit of business as usual, here’s the monthly round-up of some of the more noteworthy Hospitality stories. Here’s to the start of a brand spanking new year!

Mobile apps, tabletop devices and mobile payments lead restaurant tech trends
Restaurant technology is a popular and evolving trend that operators can leverage to grow their profits. According to WebstaurantStore’s infographic:
• 53% increase in tech use in 18-35 age group
• 53% FSR and 54% limited service restaurants have mobile websites
• 69% of consumers consider ordering online the most important aspect of restaurant technology
• 55% have used tablets to order food and drinks
• 35% of QSRs accept mobile payments

Millennials are the future for eating out
Millennials are much more likely to eat out frequently than older generations according to the Eating Out Report with 1/3 eating out at least 3 times a week. Other facts that make Millennials the proverbial Golden Goose include:
• 1/3 of Millennials spend at least £100 per month on food out of home
• 85% have had food delivered in the last 6 months
• 25% constantly look for new experiences
• More than 1/3 actively seek out information about new places through all available resources but primarily fuelled by smartphones
• Their free spending mentality means they’re less likely to cite value for money as a factor in their eating out choices
• Millennials look for places that are ‘fun’, ‘cool’ and ‘exciting

Operators need to craft a mobile strategy that stretches across all customer touchpoints to be successful
Hospitality operators shouldn’t confuse the launch of a mobile app with an effective mobile strategy according to Fast Casual. Some ways brands can work mobile into their overall marketing strategy to engage with their guests include:
• SMS
• Online ordering
• Mobile surveys
• Push/Pull geo-fencing (location based marketing)
• Payment/Mobile Wallet
• Integrated stored value (charge a digital gift or stored value card on their mobile)
• Responsive web page
• APIs – integrate back end systems for more powerful front end functionality
• Social media

QSRs are lagging when it comes to giving guests what they want out of mobile
A study by DMI of QSRs and their mobile customer experiences has found:
• 73% of quick-serve diners have used their mobile device while dining in the past 6 months
• Mobile apps can positively impact loyalty and visit frequency
• If QSRs offered an app with features such as wait times or personalised offers, 65% would choose them over other QSRs
• Offers and discounts based on previous orders is highest rated feature with 73% feeling it would be very valuable

Kiosks found not to be ‘job killers’
Contrary to popular belief that the $15 minimum wage push in the US has led to a rise in automation, Kioskmarketplace reported that many restaurant chains were deploying self-service kiosks well before this mandate explains Fast Casual. Operators are using kiosks and other technologies such as mobile order and pay to allow orders to be placed more rapidly and efficiently. These efficiencies are serving to reallocate labour from the front to the back of the restaurant and, in some cases, creating jobs. The long-term impact of self-service kiosks is hard to determine and transitioning to kiosks will require some companies to continuing serving those customers who still want personal service. Ultimately, restaurants must meet the needs of their consumers and 64% of Millennials prefer self-service according to an MHI global report.

Coffee shops are to outnumber pubs by 2030
Coffee shops are to become the new ‘local’ in the UK claims Project Café 2017. Estimated at 22,845 outlets, the coffee shop market has reached £8.9bn in 2016. Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero remained the UK’s leading chains, with a 53% outlet share of the branded coffee shop market. Market leader Costa operates 2,121 UK outlets, adding 129 units in 2016, and Starbucks and Caffe Nero operate 898 and 650 UK outlets respect tively

Expect to make m mistakes is one of the takeaways for brands striving to embrace mobile
5 key lessons from m-commerce innovators at Fast Casual’s Executive summit include:
1. Develop an app that’s easy for everyone – for all ages, tech skills and mobile user to order and communicate with.
2. Make users feel special. Reward app users for taking the time and space to include your app.
3. Expect to make m mistakes. Expect some hard knocks along the way but if you’re going to create a mobile app, take the time and money to do it right.
4. Include a system for handling big orders to make sure you don’t have to limit online orders.
5. Apps are what customers want not what the business needs. The quickest way to delight customers is to save them time and mobile does just that. Don’t spend time making your customers do what you want them to do, find a way to make your app make your customers happy.

Mobile payments and loyalty programs are the key to attracting Millennials
There are 75.3 million Millennials or ‘digital natives’ in the US and they play a critical role in leading overall adoption and use of consumer technology according to an article by Fast Casual. 90% say they have used their phone to pay for something, 44.5% had made an in-store smartphone payment within the past week. Research suggests that the best way to capture Millennial loyalty are rewards that offer convenience:
• 1/3 of Millennials don’t like rewards programs because they leave them with too many cards to carry
• 20% would gladly provide membership information via a mobile wallet
• 37% are extremely willing to be tracked by trusted merchants
The lesson here is that when you have a segment of consumers eager to use mobile payments, but are annoyed by loyalty cards, it makes sense to offer them a mobile rewards program.