It’s been another busy month in the world of self-service ordering, payment, loyalty and guest experience, so here’s a round-up of some of the more noteworthy Hospitality stories:

97% of consumers agree technology improves the restaurant experience
A survey of more than 1,100 diners has found:
• 88% have placed an order online through a restaurant’s website
• 27% use online ordering on a weekly basis
• 62% have placed orders on their mobile or tablet
• Online ordering, free Wi-Fi and mobile or online ordering are the features consumers find most important
• 11% want mobile receipts
• 42% have used mobile payments

Hands free apps and voice recognition ordering included in the future of restaurant tech predictions
Tech experts at FSTEC offer their best hopes and speculation of the state of restaurant technology. Their predictions include:
Say to pay: a new Google app that allows customer to pay for a meal merely by saying aloud “I’ll pay with Google”.
Voice recognition ordering: an automated way of capturing spoken orders in service models such as drive thrus.
Fun apps for employees: apps that are staff-focussed rather than consumer-facing offering rewards for certain behaviours to foster more fun while on the clock.
Faster tech changeover: the pace of tech advancement will only accelerate meaning the prospects for the future will be nearly impossible to predict.

Organic, veggie and gluten-free options are less important determinants in college students’ choice of restaurants.
This month 20.5 million students will be enrolled in US colleges. When they do stray off campus, they have strong expectations about taste, price and quality of food. A study of college student eating habits found:
• 65% eat on-campus
• Those going off campus are looking for good food but also ‘socialising’
• 77% say they try and eat new menu options at least once a month
• 59% would be persuaded to try something new if a discount or deal were involved
• Average spend per visit is between $5.01-$10 for 48% of the students
• 35% usually spend as much as $15 each time

Leveraging best customers to increase spend is one of the five ways to keep your customers coming back
One out of two consumers come in once and never again according to FiveStars but when increasing retention 5% can increase profit 95%, here are 5 ways to increase that rate:
1. Incentivise customers and build a robust customer database.
Offer spend based rewards vs. simple point-per-dollar rewards to encourage customers to spend more.

2. Deliver great customer experiences.
Personalise transactions and their experience by understanding what they like to order.

3. Keep first-time customers hooked.
Incentivise a return because when a customer returns for a second time, they’re 40% more likely to return again.

4. Leverage your best customers to increase spend.
80% of revenue is driven by 20% of customers so get that 20% to spend more!

5. Stay on top of your lost customers.
Re-engage lost customers sees a greater impact than acquiring a new customer.

Majority of airports will exploit mCommerce by 2019
SITA’s report which surveyed 225 airports representing 36% of global traffic found:
• 85% of global airports plan to enable passengers to purchase airport services through their mobile app by 2019
• 29% plan to extend purchasing or services to passengers’ smartwatches in the same timeframe
• 34% plan to incorporate in-app purchasing using new payment options such as Apple Pay
• Payment challenges were cited as PCI DSS requirements (26%), upgrading payment terminals (23%) and transmission of payments from terminals to banks (24%)
• 33% have no plans to introduce cashless payments

Personalisation of offers is important to Millennials
Research of 1,000 adults from American Express found:
• 48% expect personalisation in their interactions with businesses
• Millennials were most likely to go out of their way to use a customise offer compared to other age groups
• Millennials are more likely to share details of recent purchases on social media

Queue-busting listed as one of the top reasons for the rise in popularity of self-order kiosk
The quick service and fast casual sectors are starting to leverage self-order kiosks to improve customers service. Top 3 reasons include:
1. Time: self-service kiosks cut lines and offer convenience by placing the ordering process in a strategic location. They also allow staff to reallocate time previously spent on taking orders.
2. Control: Customers can choose when and how they order and pay for their meal giving them greater control over their dining experience.
3. Automation: Consistency creates credibility. Through automation, kiosks create a reliable experience for customers and can drive ROI for the restaurant as it encourages customers to explore the menu.

Consumers’ evolving expectations contributing to decline of QSR sales
According to a recent Hartman Group report, consumers’ evolving expectations for quick serves and an increasing number of choices are the main reasons for QSR sales slowing down. Consumers are in pursuit of higher quality food experiences in all aspects including shopping, eating out and trying new packaged and fresh ingredients for home cooking. Convenience, indulgence, atmosphere and value also remain important aspects that drive eating out decisions.
Digital technology such as mobile order, payment and loyalty apps for restaurants are a way for operators to reinforce expectations such as customisation and freshness while also speeding up service and improving convenience for which quick serves are known.

Table-top tablets deliver on experience because of frictionless dining
Three key ways technology in restaurants can deliver better customer service and guest experience include:
1. Frictionless dining: tablets enable customers to order the moment they’re seated to paying at the end of their meal without waiting for a server. They can also browse the menu at their own pace and process when it’s convenient for them.
2. Enhanced interaction and employee engagement: Guests can constantly interact with menus, place orders, pay bills etc whenever they please. Tablets might actually increase employee engagement as gusts have the ability to choose their own experience with as much or as little human interaction as they want.
3. Customization through data insights: Operators can capture valuable customer insights and feedback. Multi-site restaurants can leverage insights on a local level helping to tailor the experience to the desires and preferences of local consumers.