Technology and automation aren’t just about convenience and avoiding human interaction. Some operators are giving staff the data they need to create personalized experiences for guests. “We’re not trying to take humans out of the equation,” Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group told attendees at a recent industry event. “It’s about how can you empower people with technology.” Up against a third quarter with some of the industry’s worst traffic and sales numbers in the past five years, according to researcher TDn2K, restaurants may be looking for more tools to draw in diners. Check out how metrics are helping restaurant employees take hospitality to the next level.
1. Celebrate regulars
For upscale Chicago restaurant Oriole, software helps keep tabs on the concept’s top customers by sales and frequency. Each new reservation generates a new profile, pulling in credit card data, Google searches and Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Combined, the data creates a complete image that helps team members recognize the repeat customers on their next visit, co-owner Cara Sandoval told The New York Times. “It surprises people, in a nice way, when they didn’t make the reservation themselves,” she said.
2. Remember orders
Some restaurants are never forgetting a face with the help of software. Wow Bao, a 13-unit Asian-inspired fast casual, has kiosks with facial recognition that remembers customers’ order preferences and quickly moves them through the line. Bahista cafe in Sydney, Australia, uses a similar technology to tip off employees on a guest’s name and go-to order. Owner Geoff Cropley sought out the technology after he had a hard time remembering the names and orders of regulars, according to The Daily Telegraph. In-store signage helps Bahista guests find out how they can opt into the program, which now has about 2,000 guest profiles.
3. Anticipate needs
Sensors on Carnival's Regal Princess cruise ship help take the guesswork out of what a guest might want next. The sensors sync up with an app that allows customers to make requests on demand, such as ordering a drink. With each request, the technology gets to work analyzing data to predict what the customer will need next. But proper usage requires a huge investment in staff training, says Jan Swartz, group president of Carnival brand Princess Cruises, per Fast Company. “If I want to share a glass of wine at sunset with my husband, I won’t have to interrupt the moment to make eye contact with a waiter. The app will tell her my order, and she’ll find me,” Swartz told the publication. “But [she] has to be trained to let me have that [private] moment as well.”