People are expecting at-table technology – it’s no longer a novelty. According to the NRA’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, tech is an important factor for 24% of adults in choosing a tableservice restaurant. While it’s become a habit for some to assume this is because of Gen Z and Millennials rather than older consumers, the NRA discovered that 15% of those aged 65 and older are also looking for more tech options in restaurants.
A panel discussion by industry experts that was moderated by Paul Saper at the 2016 VIBE Conference revealed that technology does more than offer increased customer engagement; it gives operators access to relevant and important data. In turn, mobile technology gives operators real-time access to trend, demographic and guest engagement information. Analyzing this data allows us to enrich guest engagement, improve operational performance in terms of increased table turns, better educated servers, and increased beverage sales, and helps to build customer loyalty. In other words, technology enhances our brands.
VINU is one application that can enhance the experience of wine drinkers at tableservice restaurants. The app is billed as an “intelligent, interactive iPad wine list,” and it delivers on that promise. VINU allows your guests to learn about wine while they’re at your table, making them feel more confident and comfortable. It also offers recommendations and food pairings. Cutting back on “wine-timidation” is an important factor when attempting to increase wine sales. In terms of value for the operator, VINU can show you what wines your customers are searching for so you can fine tune your menu and bring in new wines with more confidence.
Another fantastic app is TabbedOut. On the consumer side of things, this application gives people the ability to discover a restaurant, open a tab, place an order with a server, review their check, pay via their phone, and leave feedback. That’s a lot of convenience packed into one app. And on the operator side, TabbedOut makes it possible for a restaurant to accept mobile payments easily. There’s no proprietary or otherwise specialized hardware necessary to integrate TabbedOut into your POS system. And that isn’t all TabbedOut can do. Periscope powered by TabbedOut gives you the ability to track your current guests, learn about their spending habits and favorite items, reply to customer feedback, and send offers directly to their mobile devices. In other words, TabbedOut provides your guests with convenient technology, enhancing their experience, and provides you with the who, what and when data you need to keep them coming back for more.
Saper shared the numbers behind consumers’ desire to connect with brands:
- 80% purchased an alcohol beverage they saw on a social media channel.
- 85% are likely to make a purchase from a brand that invites them to collaborate on product marketing.
- 72% say that they use social media while shopping for alcohol.
- 92% say that they are interested in having an ongoing conversation with a brand.
Social data is the key to understanding and engaging your customers. When we look at what they say via their social media channels, we learn that they share unbiased, authentic opinions. We can analyze their posts to obtain unparalleled insights. These insights can be gained without the use of surveys or focus groups. Instead, rich data can be obtained via companies like BARTRENDr, a social network-slash-data analytics company that services the beverage alcohol industry. BARTRENDr’s opt-in community is made up of digitally savvy social media using adults who regularly connect, chat and share details of their night out with others, allowing the company to capture trending and real-time topics throughout the bar and social scene.
Trends and brand insights can also be gained through the use of Partender. More than just an inventory app, Partender can help you identify top movers and dead stock. This will allow you to optimize your margins, build better relationships with distributors and suppliers, and keep tabs on beverage alcohol trends. Wouldn’t you like to be able to analyze data and predict what the next hot brand will be in your area?
Convenient access to up-to-date data can be much more valuable than waiting an entire year to review industry reports. With some research and practice you can be a much more effective operator while giving your guests the tech they crave. The time is now to enhance your brand while enhancing the customer experience.