October 4, 2017
Guest-facing Hospitality tech – Best of September 2017
Guest-facing Hospitality tech – Best of September 2017

Mobile ordering is set to dominate the industry thanks to the continued adoption of smartphones across the US whilst this digital revolution is impacting the actual physical design of many brands’ stores.  Here are more of Hospitality’s top guest-facing tech stories from this month:  

Mobile ordering set to become a $38Bn industry by 2020 

According to QSR Magazine, mobile ordering will make up 11% of all QSR sales by 2020 after more than 38M Americans used some type of mobile payment in 2016.  Key points of the story include: 

  • 48% plan to add mobile technology in the future 
  • Some pizza chains reported an 18% increase in customer spend from online/mobile orders 
  • Millennials are the largest group of smartphone users and the generation that dines out most frequently (average 5 times week) 
  • Digital ordering drastically reduces the potential for long lines, wait times and allow restaurants to serve more customers per hour.  Brands can reduce cash transactions and the need for cash collection 

The digital revolution leads restaurants to make physical changes to their stores 

The biggest physical changes to stores are happening across the quick service and casual dining sector reports Chicago Tribune. Changes include adding shelves for mobile orders awaiting pick-up to creating new kitchen areas to handle higher volumes from digital orders.  Other changes to operator’s physical presence include: 

  • Host stands are getting larger and being retro-fitted with added shelving so to-go customers can get in and out quickly 
  • More hot boxes, heat lamps and delivery drivers  
  • Expediting counters for hot food are being staffed more by delivery drivers and less by servers 
  • Less up-front waiting space as restaurants can alert customers by text when their table is ready 
  • Less cash register space due to mobile and card payments  
  • More power outlets at bar, communal areas and smaller tables due to customers’ desire to be more connected  

Tampering highlights the need for more secure kiosk software 

Tampering can cause kiosks to stop working properly creating poor customer experiences and additional cost to the brand.  Kiosk Marketplace explains how secure software can manage these concerns: 

  • Whitelist and blacklist websites that consumers are allowed to view 
  • Lockdown content on a secure browser 
  • Remote monitoring notifies you if either the physical unit or the software has been accessed inappropriately  
  • Multi-user access for alerts, security updates and pushing new content to kiosks 

Consumers are twice as likely to pay for lunch using their smartphone than a year ago 

According to research by Vianet, the number of mobile transactions as a percentage of all in-store purchases grew 247% in the UK over the past year.  Mobile payments offer quick and easy transactions especially within the restaurant and bar trade and this is the main driver behind growth.  Vianet also emphasize the importance of wearables predicting half of consumers in major markets will use a combination of smartphones and wearables to make payments by 2018.    

Creativity and customization key for serving Millennials 

Millennials have become the largest generation in the workforce with over 53M workers and account for $2.45 trillion in spending.  They spend an average 10.6% more at restaurants than any other generation.  Fast Casual gives us top 3 tips on capitalising on this demographic: 

  1. Creativity & Customization: Millennials actively pursue new foods and experiences so paying attention to personalization and preference is key. 
  1. Use technology for loyalty: 39% of Millennials already use technology to order food so providing mobile ordering, pick-up, and delivery resonates well with this generation. 
  2. Food quality: Millennials want more healthy food alternatives on your menu.  Provenance is also important.  They want to know where their food and ingredients are coming from. 

Key findings: Hospitality Technology’s Innovation Report 

Hospitality Technology’s report highlights the critical nature of technology for businesses across Hospitality in order to remain relevant and competitive.  Key findings include:  

  • 57% of Hotels and 58% of restaurants plan to spen more on technology in 2017 
  • 46% of hotels and 38% of restaurants that identify themselves as innovators say delivering tech projects faster is a top friction point.  
  • Chatbots, powered by AI, is one way brands are choosing to communicate with their digitally-driven guests 
  • Integration with social media platforms allows brands to be more accessible wherever and whenever customers want it 
  • Voice command technologies are on the up for consumers and opportunities are crystalizing for hotels and restaurants 
  • Facial recognition can empower brands looking to create personalized and individualized guest experiences, especially for VIP guests.  

Social Media is becoming more critical to customer care  

It’s important for brands to remain open, honest and transparent in their conversations with customers reports Restaurant Business.   Chatbot technology will mean customer care and marketing voices need to be even more closely tied.  Trends in social that restaurants need to keep an eye of include: 

  • A shift towards live streaming  
  • Using different channels for different purposes (e.g. Twitter for real-time, Instagram for visual storytelling, Pinterest for a deeper dive into food story etc) 
  • Integrating augmented reality into loyalty applications.  

Caliburger’s CEO offers future vision of self-ordering kiosks, robots and drone delivery 

Self-ordering kiosks that offer suggestions based on past orders, robots assembling orders, drone delivery and staff wearing digital screens advertising today’s specials is a future that is close to reality according to John Miller, CEO of Caliburgers.  The brand has already introduced ‘Flippy’ – robotic hardware with AI-powered software in their kitchens as well as investing in self-service kiosks and gaming within its stores to make the experience more entertaining.  Addressing the concerns over automation, Miller says new jobs will be created with the need for engineers, management, installation and support of these systems.