Professional Comment

What Will Drive the Hospitality Industry in 2023?

By Joe Heather, General Manager, UK&I at Deliverect

As we leave 2022 and move more deeply into 2023, there’s no doubt that the hospitality industry currently faces a challenging period. Worldwide macroeconomic inflation is a reality that the restaurant and hospitality sector has no choice but to grapple with. In order to effectively combat the rising costs associated with it, businesses will need to lean into incorporating high-quality, value driven solutions that drive a superior customer experience. Long gone are the days where restaurants can allow back-of-house or front-of-house operations to run inefficiently, risking a bad customer experience and drop off in custom as a result – but technology will help the hospitality industry bridge this gap.

Combatting the staffing crisis with technology
With restaurants struggling to find staff now more than ever before, hospitality businesses and restaurants will increasingly look to digital and automation technologies in 2023 to guide operational efficiency, manage reduced headcount and streamline menial tasks – but it’s important to do so in a way that does not compromise the customer experience. According to recent research from Deliverect, more than a third of customers do not order from a restaurant again after a bad delivery experience, whilst 19% of those polled told friends or family not to buy from the restaurant either. This highlights the importance of removing the friction of negative experiences ahead of time by taking advantage of technological solutions that reduce error rates.

As a result, there will be multiple touchpoints for companies to expand their technology services, including QR codes, self-service kiosks, online web and mobile apps, which we’ll see these grow in increasing popularity in 2023. We’ll also see further simplification of restaurant menus (especially when it comes to produce), which will help to minimise labour requirements and minimise waste. This also allows customers to seamlessly have their needs met, not matter what they want and where they are. With a third of hospitality businesses reducing opening hours over Christmas due to staff shortages, adoption of these solutions will help the hospitality industry adapt more easily to changes in trends and consumer demand, whilst allowing staff to focus on what they do best.

Driving outcomes with data
2022 was the year insight driven operations really took off where the food-services sector is concerned, with smart and savvy operators realising that the secret of new and returning customers lies in data. In 2023, the key to harnessing the power of data more widely across the industry will require operators to join up different technologies and data points together to streamline operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience. These factors will become vital differentiators as more restaurants scale up their online presence – and in particular, using that data to improve menus, and to adopt new trends and consumer behaviour.

Trending restaurant tech solutions to watch in 2023 include contactless payment and ordering systems, automation, AI and robotics, online order aggregators, digital loyalty programs, and virtual brand marketplaces. These technologies will help the hospitality industry meet current customer needs, build a customer relationship, and streamline operational efficiency – allowing you to collect big data and choose the best strategies for your brand.

Owning your own online order channels
Global demand online food delivery is showing no signs of slowing down. According to recent Deliverect research, people in the UK rely most on ordering from apps like Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats (with 24% of people saying it was their preferred method), followed by ordering directly from a restaurant (at 23%). While selling through direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels is nothing new, since the pandemic restaurant operators have increasingly bolstered their sales channels with D2C functionality in order to drive increased custom.

Selling D2C affords restaurants multiple advantages, from increased ownership of the customer experience to enabling deeper customer relationships through the availability of first-party customer data. As such, in 2023 we’ll see more and more restaurants set up their own direct website/app to gather and leverage unique consumer data, while partnering with third party delivery companies to take and deliver these orders to customers. Restaurants that create their own online order channels linked to third party courier companies will lead the pack in increased sales, consumer insights and customer growth – helping them to thrive and prosper in the year to come.