In the changing landscape of the restaurant industry, why is owning your guest data so important?
In today’s landscape, it is very hard to capture guests’ attention. With the plethora of channels available for consumers to discover and search for restaurants, along with the ever-growing supply of restaurants and in-home, convenient dining options, it’s not easy to get a guest in the door - and it’s even harder to get them to return. However, we know restaurants can compete by tapping into personalized service for guests. Personalization is something guests crave: 80% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers a personalized experience.
Having access to your guest data unlocks endless opportunities to personalize the guest journey. Guest data is the key to be able to provide the personalized service guests have come to expect.
Your reservation system should be helping you collect and leverage guest data and giving you the tools you need to re-market to your guests. This is a massive opportunity to build loyalty and get guests back in the door.
What are some of the key things to consider when evaluating a restaurant reservation system?
Your restaurant reservation system’s business model and overarching philosophy will impact key aspects of the relationship you have with your provider and will ultimately tie back to the success of your restaurant. It’s important to understand how those impact things like marketing & loyalty, guest data, features & functionality, and pricing.
Price is always top of mind for operators evaluating technologies. However, it’s important to not just consider cost in terms of fees paid but also the opportunity cost - what are you giving up? For example, brand recognition. If you are working with a consumer-focused reservation platform, the decisions they make around how restaurants are promoted and the options restaurants have to market themselves are going to serve their purpose of owning the relationship with consumers. Their business model depends on it.
It’s important to ask, are you giving up a direct relationship with your guests? Your data? And you can’t forget to question if the features and functionality meet your needs and unlock new revenue streams. Reservation platforms may all market similar capabilities on their websites, but evaluating what’s happening under the hood is where the difference lies.
What is the impact of voice assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa in the reservation market?
Voice recognition technology continues to have a bigger role in our day to day lives as products such as Google Assistant and Alexa provide convenience. Finding ways to integrate these tools into your reservation process is going to become more important as the booking experience evolves and guests are not only looking at screens, but turning to voice to make reservations. This may be more pronounced when it comes to travel. SevenRooms recently took an investment from Amazon, not only to help power better service in the dining room, but to enable hotel guests to search and book at restaurants in the hotel.
This is only the beginning of voice technology when it comes to restaurants. We are seeing this trend becoming stronger and we believe the more places and mediums available to guests to access the reservation book is going to be better for everyone.
How does the POS & Reservation System Integration work, so you are able to access data such as prior visits?
At SevenRooms, we connect with over 40+ Point of Sale (POS) systems. We are able to pull live check information directly into SevenRooms, so at any point during service you can click on any diner and see what they have ordered and how much they have spent. When a restaurant first starts with SevenRooms, we set up the integration, so we are able to pull in data for every guest that comes in and we see the guest profiles start growing very quickly, and that’s without the restaurant having to do anything manually. With a restaurant group, the opportunities to build guest profiles are even greater as all the locations are using the same platform, and any time a guest dines at any of the locations we can sync that order and spend data onto the guest profile shared across the group.
What are key elements to consider when reviewing your restaurant reservation platform agreement and terms of service?
When reviewing your agreement and terms and service with your restaurant reservation platform, it is important to consider data rights and ownership, pricing, and availability control (when certain reservation times are available on third party sites). Your guest data can be the key to your success so getting answers to questions such as how is the data collected, what kind of data do you get and how data can be accessed or exported is important. If you are using other technology systems, you should dig into whether the data from your reservation systems can be shared with those systems. When it comes to pricing, you’ll want to dig into any variable fees in your contract. For example, with the growth of Google search, you’ll want to understand the pricing model for the reservations coming through this channel. Are you paying a cover fee for reservations that would have come to you anyway? If you are in control of certain channels, make sure you have the tools you need to control where your availability should go.