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The customer journey in hospitality has been transformed by technology, the adoption of which has been accelerated by the pandemic. To gain a deeper understanding of what was happening in the market, Zonal partnered with hospitality research firm KAM Media to take a deep dive into the customer journey from “plan to plate.”

KAM Media conducted an in-depth research study with 1,004 UK adults – a nationally representative sample of British pub, bar and restaurant-goers. The full report is available here.

Below are 7 valuable takeaways for operators:

1) 1 in 3 people now look at photos and menus online before visiting

This rises to 1 in 2 for younger people and demonstrates the increasingly digital nature of the typical hospitality customer journey. The research showed that most people start their journey online, doing either a “general internet search” (38%) or using Google’s “near me” search tool (25%).

2) 1 in 6 customers are more likely to book ahead now vs pre-pandemic

At the same time, a third said difficulty making a reservation was one of the key reasons they might decide to stay at home, so investing in a seamless booking system that offers real-time availability can really give an operator the edge.

3) 38% of hospitality customers will be more likely to try new venues once the industry fully re-opens

New venues or familiar venues that are offering something new will be drawing in customers this summer and beyond. This is partly driven by the desire for new and exciting things to do after months of lockdown – but also to support local venues and to ensure that every visit counts.

4) 56% of customers would like to see table service continue

Could it be that Covid has killed off the peculiarly British practice of ordering at the bar? Probably not, but this insight does indicate that a large proportion of customers now see the benefits of ordering and paying at table. Operators will need to look at offering both where possible.

5) Mobile order and pay has become more important over the last 12 months

Over 40% of consumers said so, which goes to show how technology originally adopted as a solution to a pandemic problem, will endure in the future. Unsurprisingly this rises to 65% of Millennials, although nearly half of people reported being frustrated when “forced” to pay via a mobile app, so it makes sense to offer a range of payment options to cater for differing preferences.

6) 86% of customers would be interested in joining a loyalty scheme

The power of loyalty schemes is generally underestimated by the hospitality sector but they have a number of benefits for operators. The report found that they drive footfall – for 1 in 7 customers, a loyalty scheme has a significant influence on which venue they choose; they encourage reviews – 31% of respondents say they would leave feedback if rewarded with loyalty points, and people are happy to share personal information in exchange for loyalty rewards as well – 79% would do so if they received tailored rewards as a result.

7) Online reviews are becoming even more important

Nearly half (47%) of consumers said they looked at online reviews before booking. Smartphones are key to an explosion in online reviews, with 1 in 3 customers saying they are more likely to leave a review if they can do it via their smartphone, rising as high as 44% for those in the 25-34-year-old bracket.

To download the full research report and find out more about the essential role of technology in customer journey, visit our dedicated resources page: Connecting the Customer Journey

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