Navigating COVID-19’s New Normal For Restaurant Operators
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At the start of 2020, many restaurants had to temporarily stop on-premise dining to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now, as they reopen with capacity limitations and other restrictions, restaurants and bars are brainstorming new ways to make up for lost sales and maximize revenue while serving fewer guests. In the face of so much uncertainty in the industry, it will take a lot more than just ‘business as usual’ to face these challenges.
The key to success for restaurants is in leveraging guest data to hyper-personalize dining experiences for customers. When you have access to guest preferences, like dietary restrictions or favorite beverages, and leverage them to create personalized restaurant experiences, you’ll keep guests coming back. After all, loyal guests are more valuable than one-time customers. According to Harvard Business Review, a 5% increase in guest retention can lead to a 95% increase in profits.
Below are 5 benefits to leveraging guest data at your restaurant throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Remembering small details and partialities about a guest during service is critical in creating a personalized dining experience. However, it’s impossible for front-of-house staff to remember the preferences and names of hundreds of guests. This is especially true when you remember that restaurant employee turnover rates reached an all-time high of 75% in 2019, and with restaurants laying off over 90% of their hourly workforce and 70% of their salaried employees due to COVID. Fortunately, technology can help.
When your venue has access to a robust guest engagement platform that helps store this information, staff can save details about customers within guest profiles that can be instantly accessed at the touch of a button. Guests feel special when servers bring out their favorite drinks or make recommendations based on their preferences. They’ll want to come back to the places that make them feel like VIPs.
Access to guest data can help you anticipate customers’ needs early and often. With a reservations platform that lets you own guest data, your foodservice venue can automatically generate guest profiles when customers make reservations.
Servers can use information from reservations and guest profiles, like favorite dishes, dietary preferences, and special dates like a birthday or anniversary, to know who they’re serving and what kind of experience that guest wants to have. With this kind of information about guests at their disposal, staff can anticipate guests’ needs and create a hyper-personalized experience for them at the restaurant.
If a guest has a gluten intolerance noted on their profile, for example, a server can highlight the gluten free options on a disposable menu and give it to the guest when they arrive. The guest will appreciate the extra measures taken to ensure their peace of mind, and will be more likely to come back. Personalization through data strengthens loyalty.
When you have access to robust data about your guests, you can target them with hyper-personalized marketing offers. When promotions match your guests’ needs, they’ll be more likely to take advantage of them and visit your venue more frequently.
If you know a guest’s birthday, you can make sure they celebrate with you by sending them a special birthday promotion. Savvy operators know that by sending a guest an SMS or email that offers them a free birthday dessert and asks them if they want to make a reservation, they’re more likely to convert into a visiting guest.
By offering the right deal at the right time while encouraging the guest to book a reservation, you’re making it a no-brainer for the guest to visit. Your venue will benefit from attracting a guest who will likely spend more on this special occasion than they would on a regular meal out.
In places where contact tracing is required for dining out, being able to access guest information isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a necessity. When you can keep track of reservation dates and times, and have access to guest contact information, you can reach out to them if there’s a chance that they were exposed to the coronavirus at your venue.
Conversely, guests can reach out to your venue to notify you if they become ill so that you can alert other guests. When restaurants have the ability to contact trace through a guest experience platform, their customers gain peace of mind that keeps them coming back.
COVID-19 has made restaurateurs and hotel F&B operators rethink how they serve customers and meet guest needs. Even if servers can’t get close to guests due to social distancing, they can still provide them with a high level of hospitality with the help of data. Guest profiles enhance the hospitality experience by enabling operators to create personalized restaurant experiences for guests.
Learn how SevenRooms can help your venue create a personalized dining experience for guests.