Designing the digital restaurant of the future
Wanstor have a front row seat to the technology advances in hospitality. Check out how we’ve seen data and technology can enhance the hospitality experience and create a digital restaurant of the future!
Tech adoption in the restaurant industry has seen a significant uplift in the last three years with contactless ordering via apps, self-service kiosks and delivery solutions becoming a norm. Restaurants today are complex operations and rely heavily on the use of technology to deliver a great experience to their diners and for running simplified, efficient operations. Many tech solutions were even created to address business needs and consumer demand at the time of COVID either to create new revenue streams or introduce efficiencies. Over time, these solutions have managed to positively shift mindsets in favour of technology, in an industry that was always labour intensive and advocated for the ‘human touch’.
As a new set of challenges now emerge for the hospitality industry with soaring energy bills, the cost-of-living crisis and chronic shortage of staff - the hospitality IT experts at Wanstor have identified key areas in which data and technology can be leveraged to navigate current challenges that the industry is facing and deliver a digital restaurant of the future.
Improving guest experience
Hospitality will always be a ‘people first’ business, but data and tech can help enhance guest experiences. The pandemic has improved customer attitudes and engagement with technology. In fact, nearly 48% people surveyed in the CGA Consumer Pulse in January 2022 reported that they now prefer using technology to book, order and pay at a hospitality establishment. Although this preference has been a result of necessity, astute hospitality businesses will want to build on this enthusiasm.
Technology and the data gathered with it, helps build a better experience in more ways than just the obvious convenience at a table on the day of the meal.
- Mobile device ordering, secure table payment solutions for splitting tabs and self-serve kiosks all enable faster service and allows staff more time to interact with guests rather than waste time running to and from fixed POS
- Digital menu solutions allow customers to view real time data on ingredients and allergens on menus, providing reassurance, transparency and allows diners to make an informed decision, with no scope for manual errors
- POS systems can be programmed to alert front of house staff if guests have waited for their orders longer than expected and help staff immediately take steps for service recovery. Data analysis from POS can also help make permanent improvements to processes
- Guest Wi-Fi solutions and booking systems integrated with POS help collect data and provide a personalised service and can later be used to send personalised marketing and build long-term loyalty
The most important factor to consider while implementing any of these solutions is to have a solid foundation – a stable core network, fast internet and secure Wi-Fi and a reliable, modern POS. Connectivity will be particularly important, considering the impending move to an all-digital network with the PSTN switch off in 2025.
Improve employee experience
It is no secret that hospitality is facing an acute staffing and skills shortage. The industry is taking several measures to address this issue, including the adoption of a formal Workforce Strategy set out by industry body, UK Hospitality. Operators should consider investing in technology to help their staff with tedious, manual tasks that will make their workday easier and free up time to focus on the social and skilled elements of their roles that make them feel more fulfilled with their careers.
- Using automation for repetitive processes like monthly stock take, onboarding IoT devices like fridge temperature sensors for compliance monitoring or using tools like Microsoft Power Platform to build low import data from various sources to build daily reporting dashboards
- Integrated staff management solutions can help with faster and frictionless onboarding, which contributes to better staff retention rates
Most operators have invested in some of these solutions, but we’ve often found they work in silo, are susceptible to security attacks and incorrect integrations cause more frustrations.
Wanstor has worked with hospitality clients to ensure they have found reliable solutions that are the right fit operationally, and that they have the right measures to keep the entire IT estate secure. In addition to this, we provide solutions that ease tech challenges for employees, including:
- Single sign on for all apps
- Custom portal or apps to access to information (view and manage shifts, payslips, training materials and so on)
- Single point of contact for tech support ranging from POS issues to emails configuration
Enhance operational efficiency and enable business growth
The hospitality industry is facing a cocktail of challenges. ONS statistics from January 2023 show the industry faces a staggering 11.1% inflation; this combined with the prospect of reduced disposable incomes affecting revenue forecasts, makes it very important to focus on operational efficiency going into 2023. Technology solutions can enhance efficiencies and cut down labour intensive tasks, but most importantly, they can be used to analyse and interpret vast amounts of data for better decision making.
- Smart kitchen display systems like Oracle Simphony’s KDS module or Kitchen IQ enable seamless flow of orders between the front of house to kitchen and helps speed up service, saves paper and reduces errors
- Kitchen management systems connected to POS can help track stock inventory, optimise ordering and rotation based on demand / booking forecasts and reduce food wastage and bring down food costs
- Menu management systems from Oracle Simphony are user friendly and can be used to centrally update POS at time of changing menus, reducing manual errors and efforts
- Third-party integrations with POS - like accounts, payments, loyalty programs, property management systems allowing a seamless guest experience
- Self-ordering kiosk systems can streamline service and operations in QSRs
You may already have some, or all of these solutions in place. A technology partner like Wanstor will help integrate these solutions, optimise licensing, and tailor this tech stack for optimal security. This will free up management time to focus on projects which fuel business growth. We have also developed a service that helps standardise new site openings – helping multi-site operators scale quicker and more efficiently.
Business model resilience
The last couple of years were clearly an accelerator for hospitality tech and tech adoption was at its highest it has been. From simple QR codes to access menus to contactless table ordering and payment solutions - tech enabled restaurant businesses to navigate the new normal. Delivery platforms, experience vouchers and meal kits provided alternate revenue streams. In an industry already operating to tight margins, hospitality companies can once again leverage the power of tech and ensure their business models are resilient. Here are a few solutions our sector experts have been exploring recently:
- Most new restaurant SaaS solutions are already cloud based but moving all of restaurant systems from legacy infrastructure on to the cloud ensures continuity, safety, and compliance. It allows key stakeholders to access data in real time, allows efficient decision making as well as cost savings
- Marketing tech helps record and understand customer data and their behaviour better (CRM) by integrating data collected from various sources – Wi-Fi, POS etc. This information can be used to set up loyalty schemes and run targeted campaigns to achieve better ROI and profits
- Scaling casual dining groups or QSRs can benefit from cloud-based, standardised tech stacks that can be used to roll out new sites faster and seamlessly, reducing new site opening costs
- Innovative solutions like Nutritics or Klimato that integrate with existing calorie labelling or allergen software can help take compliance needs one step forward by also showing the carbon / CO2 impact of the food on displayed menus boosting the responsible business credentials
Customer data is a valuable commodity for hospitality businesses, and it is important to protect it. In addition to setting up and running these tech solutions, managed service providers like Wanstor can help with ensuring your entire IT estate is backed up and secure; compliant with laws such as GDPR and that business continuity can be maintained in the event of an emergency.
Hospitality CTOs manage a complex estate that requires specific expertise across hospitality operations and technology – a unique skill set. They face a rapidly evolving technology and economic landscape and have competing priorities. In 2023, they'll have to make some critical choices between reducing costs of operation and investing in technologies that will help their business grow. They will rely on the right data and tech partners to help make the right decisions. As with any other industry, implementing the right tech stack can be a win-win for all the stakeholders – the business, the employees, and the customers.
Working with some of the leading hospitality operators over 20 years has given us a deep understanding and a unique perspective of the hospitality sector. We not only understand the challenges, but we’ve also implemented solutions that have delivered business impact. Talk to us today to see how we can help you deliver, the digital restaurant(s) of the future!