The future of hospitality tech

Our predictions for what lies in store for the use of technology in hospitality, in 2022 & beyond. 

Introduction

The adoption of hospitality tech over the past 18 months has fast tracked change & revolutionised the sector. While initially met with scepticism, the rise of mobile ordering, accessible data, & self-service bill paying has re-imagined the restaurant experience & given venues the power to not only streamline their operations, but also gain a critical insight into their customers’ behaviour.

With the relaxation of COVID regulations, this tech became optional rather than mandatory in venues. However, it’s clear that hospitality tech is here to stay, as it’s helped the venues that have adopted it to be nimble & adapt to unpredictability.

So what does the future of hospitality tech hold? Here are our 3 key insights:

Big data, big benefits!

“The retail sector has been using data to enhance the customer experience for a long time. The untapped potential to take some of these learnings into the hospitality sector is huge!”

Steve Callery, Chief Data Officer at OrderPay.

Despite the challenges hospitality has faced, there is now a powerful opportunity to utilise data in a way that sectors such as retail have done for years. As more tech solutions are used, venues are able to gather data & build a detailed understanding of who their customers are, how often they visit, what they order & much more.

This not only gives venues an easy way to identify customers, but it also means that customers can order at their convenience, with no need to queue at the bar or get the attention of staff.

More importantly, the rise of hospitality tech has democratised this data. This was previously only available to business who could build their own apps & digital loyalty programmes, & have the resource to manage that data & produce meaningful reports. Now this wealth of information is accessible with no set-up or monthly fees & only a small cost per transaction. This unlocks a new level of visibility for SMEs & presents a more affordable option to larger chains, helping them increase profits & provide even better customer service.

Venues who adopt this data-led approach & let it inform all of their decisions will be able to know exactly who their customer base is & what they like, along with a range of touch points to help smooth operations, better select stock & provide more personal guest experiences.

This data can also be used for marketing & help drive scalable personalisation, making each customer feel valued through offers & rewards unique to them & their preferences.

In the future we will likely see this data used for real-time insights, so when a guest arrives staff know if it’s their birthday & what their go-to order is. This will give venues the opportunity to elevate their customers’ experience & is a great example of how tech can support, enable & empower hospitality. In the past, data has been something of a naughty word in hospitality, but used well the benefits to operators & their customers are clear.

The rise of next-generation Pay at Table

Flagging down a server & waiting for the card reader has always been an issue. Guests can now pay from their phones in seconds.

The hospitality tech that both premium brands & high street favourites are adopting solves a common bugbear – paying at the end of a meal. Gone are the days of waving down a busy server to find a card reader. Instead, venues are empowering their customers to pay in seconds using their smartphones, by simply scanning a QR code on the table or bill.

This evolution means that much of the dining experience remains unchanged, with venues still providing great hospitality throughout the customer journey & maintaining that personal touch – a concern raised with the rise of order & pay solutions.

Having the process of requesting & paying the bill taken care of gives customers a slicker experience & venues the ability to turn tables faster, streamline staff priorities & spend more time focused on the restaurant floor.

While some in the industry have voiced concerns that tech might detract from personal interaction & cheapen the overall experience, those that have embraced the new technology have found that in fact staff are able to spend more time with guests as they are no longer waiting to use the card reader. (With the added bonus that we’ve seen customers are 12x more likely to leave a tip when paying digitally!)

Much more than order & pay solutions

The ultimate goal must be for users to have one app to serve all aspects of hospitality tech across all venues.

The past 18 months have seen a high turnover of various order & pay solutions with a range of functionality & features. Pushback was instant from customers fed up with needing a new app for every venue & learning the ordering process each time.

Tech providers need to address these concerns if they are to persuade customers to adopt their solution. An ordering app needs to make the ordering process as smooth as possible, whilst adding additional value through features such as gifting & loyalty. Creating a network of venues & users is also key – the future is giving customers one app to use at multiple locations, allowing them to receive offers, send gifts to friends & discover new venues, without downloading multiple apps. The ultimate goal must be to have one login to serve all aspects of hospitality tech across all venues.

Conclusion

We’ve seen the future of hospitality tech, & this time it’s personal…

Hospitality will always be about people. It is about the staff & the customer experience, so it is these people who will shape the future of hospitality tech.

While initially met with scepticism, it’s clear that tech solutions have helped hospitality weather the pandemic, and their long-term benefits like helping venues identify their best customers and provide more efficient service, mean they are here to stay.

What will separate tech solutions that flourish and those that get scrapped is their uptake amongst customers – no matter how good the technology, it won’t be used unless it clearly enhances the existing experience. Venues now have the power to understand their customers at scale & use data to offer a richer, more personalized experience without losing any of that personal touch from their service. What’s more, technology gives operators the flexibility to suit the individual needs of each customer – whether it’s in person, via a QR code or with an app, guests can now book, order, pay, tip & more however they choose.

Technology is present throughout the customer journey. It’s up to us as operators & technology providers to ensure this benefits the customer every step of the way.