A Seat at the Table: Q&A with Clara-Louise Paul of Meraki

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5 min read

May 31, 2023

A Seat at the Table: Q&A with Clara-Louise Paul of Meraki

SevenRooms recently sat down with Clara-Louise Paul, Head of Sales & Digital Marketing at Meraki. Clara-Louise has over 10 years of hospitality experience with groups including Rocket Restaurants, The Clubhouse London, Create Food and now Meraki. Check out what Clara-Louise had to say about operational challenges in a post-COVID world, guest data, hospitality technology and the future of the industry.

How do you use customer data as a tool to better streamline your day-to-day operations? What are some of the factors that are affected by this knowledge?

At Meraki, we utilize auto-tagging to the fullest extent. This crucial customer data tool aids our day-to-day in being best prepared for the lunch or dinner shift ahead. From the basics of knowing who our first-timers are, our regulars & repeat bookers and third-party reservations, through to more advanced segmentation such as table preferences, food & drinks likes & dislikes and service styles, auto tags provide us with actionable data that can be used by the whole team in-service.

Most operators are constantly looking for new ways to streamline their operations and automate tasks with technology. What are the three tasks that are critical to automate in order to be more efficient?  
Optimization of our ‘book’ – managing the flow of reservations to ensure 5-star service while finding the right balance to help us maximize the number of diners during each shift.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – The ability to follow a guest or potential guest’s digital journey from start to finish.
Enquiry management – Communication of our current pipeline and tangible forecasting of future business for our restaurant.

How does Meraki ensure the guest always has a high-quality, personalized experience, regardless of which location they are visiting?

Meraki brings to life the Greek concept of ‘Filoxenia’ which translates to ‘Friend to a stranger.’ Our team treats each customer with the hospitality Greece is known for, an ancient value that still lives on today! The word ‘Meraki’ means ‘To create with your heart and soul.’ Every aspect of Meraki has been crafted entirely with this in mind in order to create a gastronomical experience like no other.

What have been your biggest operational challenges coming out of COVID? 

Oh, it’s been a never-ending stream of fun (ha!). Much like other businesses, the ever-changing guidelines surrounding social distancing and masks. Followed by the biggest hospitality staffing crisis the industry has ever seen. We don’t wish to dwell though, we are grateful to have survived the period and excited about the future of Meraki globally.

As the economy and inflation continue to fluctuate, how has utilizing technology helped manage your day-to-day operations? I.e. Ingredient inventory, keeping employees in the loop with changing menus, etc.  

It’s certainly helpful to streamline communication, especially when there is a need to share information with front-of-house team members who might not have a corporate email account but need critical updates on an upcoming service shift. 

How important is having a real-time understanding of the guest experience in your restaurant? What tools do you depend on in order to fully understand these experiences and act upon them if needed?

In real-time, being able to have a helicopter view of what’s happening across the restaurant at any time, is so beneficial. We deal with human beings (gladly!) so all it takes is a handful of reservations to perhaps arrive early or late, to play havoc with even the most coherent, perfectly paced floorplan! We want guests to enjoy a gastronomical Meraki experience from start to finish, so knowing which stage each individual table is at massively contributes to the smooth running of service.

As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, what are you most excited to see from restaurant technology platforms in the future? 

An all-under-one-roof system! Take SevenRooms for example. I love how often I can see visible examples of innovation from SevenRooms and will soon be looking to switch from Mailchimp to SevenRooms for email database management once we finalize the opt-in sign-up form on our website at the end of May. I also recently saw an email regarding an enquiry management system for groups and events, this would be amazing too!

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