Joel Montaniel, CEO and Co-Founder of SevenRooms spoke with Modern Hospitality about the ways in which personalisation should be prioritised in 2021.
The need for hospitality brands to adopt personalisation tactics is clear. In recent years, the hospitality sector has endured countless difficulties as rising rent, payroll and food costs have taken their toll on operations and margins, and these challenges only set to increase in the year ahead. In fact, for restaurants, the so-called ‘casual dining crunch’ has seen more than 1,400 UK venues close over the last couple of years and while the hotel industry has enjoyed seven years of exceptional growth, it’s now predicted to face a fall in profits as sales begin to slow down.
With that in mind, standing out from the crowd and delivering exceptional customer service has never been so important for hospitality brands. But while personalisation underpins every online retailer’s business strategy, it’s time the hospitality industry adopts this practice into their daily operations.
From 2020 onwards, we expect to see personalisation take hold in the hospitality scene as more businesses compete to remain relevant. One of the many reasons why personalisation has become mainstream is because consumers’ expectations have changed. Today’s consumers demand the highly-personalised experiences they have become accustomed across every other area of their life – from booking travel to shopping online – when eating out.
What’s more, SevenRooms’ research into dining trends revealed that more than half of Brits want to have the option of a fully personalised menu tailored to their likes and dietary requirements when they go out to eat. This, in itself, proves that consumers want a dining experience that is uniquely tailored to their preferences, and the hospitality industry needs to adapt.
Take Amazon, for example. Whenever a user logs on to make a purchase, every element of the page they see is tailored to their particular preferences, ensuring that their entire purchasing experience, from start to finish, is as streamlined and customized as possible. However, this isn’t the case when a diner visits a restaurant; numerous obstacles often stand between a person and the plate of food they want to order and eat. Questions about allergy requirements, dietary preferences, favourite places to sit, and preferred method of paying the bill – while important – can detract from the overall dining experience, especially when different front of house team members make the same query twice. Guests want the same slick, data-driven, fully personalised experience they’ve become accustomed to receiving online.
To meet this new demand, hospitality brands will need to begin using operations platforms that allow them to capture, own and leverage guest data. In particular, best-in-class platforms that give hospitality brands the ability to create data profiles for each particular guest. By doing so, the front of house staff will be empowered to leverage an individual’s data to deliver one-to-one personalised service at scale. By harnessing such platforms, hospitality brands can ensure that every guest is greeted by their first name, shown to their favourite table, and recommended dishes that align with their dietary requirements. Most importantly, choosing the right tech partner enables these experiences to be scaled across a hospitality group – regardless of which venue across an operator’s portfolio that the guest chooses to dine at.
Leveraging guest data in this way not only gives hospitality brands an important edge over their competition, but also helps them to deliver a hyper-personalised experience to each guest. As restaurants and hotels continue to face an increasing amount of pressure from countless factors, the need for hospitality brands to differentiate themselves from competitors and stand out from the crowd by delivering a personalised experience will become ever more acute.
It’s important to note that the long-term financial benefits of adopting such technology far outweigh any transitional upfront costs and staff training. A recent investigation revealed that regular guests can account for up to 40% of a restaurants’ total revenue. As such, building and nurturing positive brand-guest relationships and ensuring that regulars’ needs are always met should be a top priority for all hospitality operators. Personalisation is amongst the most effective ways of ensuring that this level of service – leveraging the human factor that drives repeat business – is consistently reached.
The year ahead will undoubtedly present the hospitality industry with a challenging array of unanswered questions. From financial pressures to increasing demand for more personalised experiences, hospitality brands will be tasked with transforming and enhancing their approach to guest engagement. Operators that whole-heartedly embrace the benefits of industry-leading technology, such as data-driven personalisation platforms, will be best positioned to meet the demands of consumers in 2021 to drive the industry forward.