By Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe at guest experience platform SevenRooms (www.sevenrooms.com)
Following the release of the UN’s 2021 Food Waste Index Report, Danilo Mangano, General Manager Europe at SevenRooms discusses how technology can help the hospitality industry reduce food waste
Globally, food waste accounts for 8% of green- house emissions. If it were a country, it would be the third- largest producer of green- house gases after the US and China. The topic of sustainability in business is not new, and is certainly not going unnoticed by consumers, who increasingly want all of the experience with none of the eco-guilt.
As hospitality reopens this spring, there is an opportunity to both renew focus on sustainability and boost profitability. Research has shown that if the average restaurant reduced food waste by just 20% a year, it would save an estimated £2,000.This is significant, especially when you consider the lost revenue restaurants will want to make up when on-premise dining restarts.
There is a clear environmental and economic need for restaurants to reduce food waste — and technology can offer a solution. Many restaurants use technology to help them manage operations, from reservations to seating management, but far fewer use these platforms to gain insight into where food waste can be reduced.With this in mind, we have looked at how the hospitality industry can make the most of technology to tackle food waste while still ensuring guests go home satisfied.
USE GUEST DATA TO INFORM YOUR SUPPLY ORDERS
When it comes to ordering food, many restaurants rely on rule of thumb estimates.With reduced capacity likely to be the norm for the first few months after reopening, it’s going to be difficult to predict exactly what they will need in terms of produce and the qualities required. Ultimately, this could cause challenges when reining in spending, especially as maximising profits needs to be front of mind upon reopening.
With the right technology solution, this unpredictability could be one less thing for operators to think about. Restaurants that have fully-integrated guest experience platforms in place can capture and leverage data directly, offering important insights into a diner’s dietary preferences, allergies and favourite orders. Not only does this enable them to provide tailored experiences that help to build a deeper relationship, but these insights also allow operators to undertake supply ordering more accurately.
Looking at the data, a restaurant manager may see that a guest was a Friday night regular, and always ordered the salmon en croute with a specific vegetable side dish.When making their next reservation, it’s likely this will be the meal they choose, which an operator can use to plan when placing orders with suppliers.While lockdown has meant venues have been closed for dining on-premise, restaurants that have been facilitating their own online ordering, collection and delivery services will have continued to build their bank of customer data.This same data will prove invaluable when they are organising inventory. For instance, if a customer has ordered a specific chicken dish for delivery over the lockdown, chances are they are going to order it again when they can eat at the venue.
The benefit of knowing this information is twofold.With a better idea of what diners will order, the kitchen can more accurately judge what they will need to order from suppliers. Plus, by anticipating the customers’ wishes, an operator can continue to provide a positive diner experience that makes them feel valued and more likely to return again.
REPURPOSE YOUR SURPLUS
On some occasions, an operator will have leveraged all the available data to inform supply orders and still be left with surplus food at the end of service. So what happens then? We know how valuable the art of the quick pivot was during the lockdown.There is no reason why restaurants should leave that mindset behind now; particularly when it can have such a pro- found impact on food waste.The introduction of retail was a lifeline to many restaurant businesses over the pandemic, and is a great way to help operators eliminate food waste in the long-term.With special relationships often required to access high-end produce, meats and more, these retail operations are often the only way for consumers to purchase these specialty items.
At-home meal kits were also wildly popular over the past year – why not continue to supply these kits with surplus food? It’s a simple way for customers to feel connected to their favourite dining spot if they don’t feel ready to return to on-premise, while using food that would otherwise have been discarded. Many are more than happy to support their favourite restaurants, and they will feel better in the knowledge that not only will they have prevented food from going to landfill, but that they have helped a local business as it recovers and rebuilds.
Tackling food waste concerns should be a priority for everyone within the hospitality space when venues reopen. It is worth noting, however, that the recommendations outlined are only possible if operators own their customer data and hold direct relationships.Without access to their email address, how will you contact them to let them know their favourite pasta sauce is available to buy and enjoy at home? If you can’t access their order history, how would you know who to contact when marketing a meal kit for the dish they never fail to order? Or encourage a regular delivery diner to visit you on-site once your venue reopens? Operators that are proactive in using intelligent, data-driven technology can only benefit, especially as costs associated with wastage decline and consumers opt for restaurants that prioritise sustainability and top-tier service.