By Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe, SevenRooms (www.sevenrooms.com)
Hotel operators up and down the country are eager to make up for lost time and see the hospitality sector thrive again.With a huge sum- mer of staycations on the horizon after months of lock- down, it’s critical for hospitality venues to ensure they are ready to maximise the opportunities.
The downtime of lockdown has offered many hospitality operators the chance to review their tech stack and identify solutions to help them build better relationships with guests, drive greater loyalty and ensure future profitability; all of which are going to be vital in the coming months.
Having the right technology in place to exceed guest expectations is critical to success. However, a recent report found that many UK hotel F&B operators are missing the tech necessary to build deeper relation- ships with their guests. In fact, SevenRooms research found that more than one in ten of the UK’s leading hotels don’t have any online reservation systems in place to handle bookings for their F&B outlets.Without the right technology, hotel operators will be left behind as their savvier counterparts are able to build and maintain better guest relationships.
DATA IS KING
Where hotels are using front-of-house technology in their F&B operations, we’ve found over half are using third-party marketplaces to handle reservations instead of leveraging direct solutions. Operators that only work with third-party platforms to manage their guest experience miss out on being able to collect and own the data necessary to build direct relationships with customers that drive repeat business. Instead, they are beholden to third-party systems to drive business for them – a tricky position to be in.
While third-parties certainly offer marketing benefits, relying wholly on them can be a very costly strategy in the long run. Not only do they take a fee per cover, but in using them, venues give up control of their most valuable asset: guest data.The data insights gained across the entire guest journey enable operators to deliver more tailored and relevant experiences.These personalized touches help build stronger relation- ships that ultimately drive repeat visits and greater profitability.
MAKE GUESTS FEEL SPECIAL WITH PERSON- ALISED OFFERINGS
Once operators have captured that valuable data, they should be lever-aging it at every point to provide a tailored experience. Having a 360- degree view of each guest before, during and after their stay can be used not only across the restaurants and bars, but property-wide. A guest should be made to feel special at every interaction.This could mean adjusting a mini bar to remove allergens, offering a preferred bottle of wine at check-in, or simply a ‘welcome back’ to someone who has dined but never stayed at the property.These hyper-personalised interactions drive loyalty and repeat business with customers.
Much of the focus for the last year has been on how venues have adapted operations to keep customers safe – which of course remains paramount.Today, hospitality operators should be focusing on how they can elevate the guest experience altogether to make it even better than it was before the pandemic. Hotels that can create unique and person- alised offerings to attract consumers and provide meaningful, stand out experiences will come out stronger this summer and beyond.
KEEP AN EYE ON RESERVATIONS… AND THOSE WHO NO SHOW
In hotel restaurants and bars, reservation, waitlist and table management not only help run a seamless service, but are also critical touch- points for capturing guest data to use for future marketing and in-service personalisation. Leveraging these tools in markets where capacity remains reduced and demand ever-growing, operators can place clear time limits on bookings according to the number of guests, ensuring as many sittings can be accommodated as possible.
These guest management systems also give operators the ability to better manage and monitor no-shows.The issue of guests not showing for bookings and failing to cancel is nothing new; it is a challenge that has long existed in the industry, but in this post-COVID world, a no- show has a much bigger impact on a business. For operators using third- party providers to manage their F&B bookings, there is no direct relationship with the guest, and so a no-show is all the more likely.
Having direct communication with the guest allows for better engagement in the lead-up to a restaurant reservation, beyond an email to con- firm the day before. Some operators have also been quick to implement booking deposit processes or advance payments to help prevent or reduce no-shows, and guests are now more open to accepting these new rules in the name of supporting their favourite restaurants and bars. With the right technology platform in place, hotel F&B venues can manage these pre-payments, while also leveraging this opportunity to upsell – offering breakfast or a bottle of champagne in the room, for example. If operators can use this process to provide a better guest experience while protecting important revenue, guests are likely to have a better stay overall.
DON’T FORGETYOUR LOCALS
Engaging the local audience has never been more important – particularly for hotel operators that are likely to see a reduced influx of inter- national guests this summer season.With consumers less likely to be travelling further afield, they are going to be more open to spending money closer to home, and while they may not stay the night, hotel restaurants can become a firm favourite.
For many, supporting local businesses is a priority at the moment – and booking directly is one way for them to do this. In return, operators must use the opportunity to provide a memorable experience at every stage of the guest journey and ensure they are leveraging guest data effectively to build better relationships, encourage them to re-book and demonstrate the value in doing so directly.
Now is the time for operators to ensure they are set up to meet the demands during this next phase of recovery. Consumers and venues alike are eager to return and enjoy the experiences that have been missing throughout much of the year. Having the right technology in place will offer hotels greater bandwidth to be able to focus on what they do best: delivering creative and exciting offerings that are sure to drive more meaningful guest experiences and memories in 2021 and beyond.