Hospitality can be a cutthroat industry. Patrons are becoming more demanding, and online reviews more revealing. What’s hot one week may be not so hot the next. Societal trends like healthier lifestyles mean traditional revenue streams are shrinking.
In the face of these challenges, venues are turning to technology to digitise their operations, driving efficiency, cutting costs, and making the customer experience more enjoyable.
Here are some digital trends making waves in the hospitality industry in 2019 – and beyond.
Innovative payment solutions
One key concern for venues is how to manage cash and payments securely and seamlessly, both front- and back-of-house. With the rise of mobile payments not just via cards but via smartphones and smartwatches too, customers expect venues to respond in kind with an experience that is equally frictionless – and venues are doing so, with innovative payment solutions.
Square, for example, provides chip card readers roughly the size of a twenty-cent coin that plug into phones via the headphone jack, so staff can take payments quickly and easily at the table. This means less waiting for customers, and faster turnarounds for venues.
Hospitality venues, particularly those with gaming rooms, are also employing technology to keep cash secure, keep the books balanced and pay out to customers faster. Cash recyclers, for example, both accept and dispense cash, drastically reducing the need for manual cash handling by staff, so they can spend more time front-of-house serving customers. Its automated feeder counts bills automatically, ensuring accuracy, and it stores cash securely, preventing theft.
Similarly, cashier assist terminals and under-counter and intelligent safes secure your gaming float without slowing down customer service, thereby reducing staff labour and shrinkage, while cash redemption terminals allow patrons to redeem their own gaming tickets without the need for staff involvement, thereby enhancing the customer experience. This is one of the bigger trends in the hospitality industry.
All-in-one POS systems
Point-of-sale (POS) systems are an absolute must when it comes to the smooth running of hospitality venues, but in recent years they have been freed from the confines of the cash register. Powerful all-in-one POS systems such as Revel and Kounta connect to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, so staff can take orders, manage tables, split bills and accept payments from anywhere in the venue. They also operate via the cloud, giving management unprecedented mobility. At any time, they can easily check up on how things are going – a particularly useful feature for managers who look after several venues.
EFTPOS cash-out solutions can be used front-of-house, where access to cash from ATMs is restricted. POS systems extend to back-of-house as well, allowing you to check stock levels and automate purchase orders based on actual usage, thereby reducing waste and maintaining freshness.
POS systems also allow staff management and rostering to be done in real time. Managers, for example, can decide whether it’s worth closing early based on staff rates and likely revenue, as all this information is available at their fingertips.
Staff management is a huge issue for the hospitality industry, and ensuring rostering is done fairly and in a timely manner can go a long way towards keeping employees happy and improving staff retention.
Technology being used to manage hospitality venue’s rosters is another trend the industry is experiencing. As mentioned above, all-in-one POS systems can help with this, but there are also employee scheduling apps like Deputy that allow you to create rosters and track hours with ease. You can even schedule by skill-set, ensuring your most experienced employees are rostered on during the busiest periods when they’re needed most.
Not only does this save time for both employees and management, but it also allows hospitality venues to closely track staff costs against sales data, so they can maintain profitability.
In the age of online reviews, it is imperative that venues prioritise the customer experience to ensure patrons leave delighted and wanting to come back for more.
Venues are using technology to take their customer experience to new heights. Revel, for example, allows venues to tailor custom loyalty programs, rewarding regular customers with discounts and special offers.
There are also point-of-payment review systems like truRating, whereby venues can collect immediate feedback from customers simply and cost-effectively. Patrons are asked one of five questions covering service, value, experience, likelihood to recommend and the product delivered. This data is then collated to give a real-time, holistic view of customer satisfaction, so the hospitality venue can immediately see what they’re doing right and wrong, and respond accordingly.
Another significant issue for anyone in the hospitality industry is inventory management. Not only is food waste costly, but it also has a negative effect on the environment as most of it ends up in landfills. Today, venues are doing away with the old clipboard and spreadsheet methods and turning to the technology trend to help them optimise stock levels and reduce waste.
Predictive order management software Eruza, for example, uses machine learning to predict demand, based on data from previous days, as well as other factors like the weather and holidays, so stock is ordered at precisely the level at which it is required. Using this predictive technology, Eruza claims to reduce waste by up to 25%.
We’re also seeing the internet of things (IoT) making a dent in the hospitality industry. Smart fridges, for example, are able to ensure food is held at optimal temperatures, as well as monitor stock levels and send alerts when anything is low. Sensors are also being placed in equipment like ovens, ensuring food is cooked to the correct temperature, thereby ensuring consistency and food safety compliance.
As technology progresses in leaps and bounds, it will no doubt continue to have a huge impact on how venues operate. It’s impossible to be certain about where these hospitality industry trends will lead, but perhaps the age of self-service pubs and clubs isn’t too far off?
Want to learn more about how Australia’s top venues are using technology to stay ahead of the curve? Our free ebook Pubs and Clubs of the Future gives real-life examples of how today’s best-performing venues stay popular and profitable. Download it now.