Blog: Lockdown -a time to future-proof your tech stack
Tech plays a vital role in hospitality, solving current challenges and helping to future-proof businesses. Is your ops tech stack due a review?
Our latest GO Technology report in conjunction with CGA, reveals the popularity of loyalty schemes in restaurants, pubs and bars among both consumers and business leaders.
The research shows that half (49%) of consumers in Britain think loyalty schemes are important to them when choosing which restaurant, pub and bar to visit—more than double the total of 22% in February 2017. The report also highlights that once consumers start to use a loyalty scheme, they tend to make good use of it with nearly half (47%) say they use a scheme every or almost every time they visit a restaurant, pub or bar.
Find out more about loyalty in the year of COVID—and why the market’s recovery in 2021 could create new opportunities for engagement. Download the full report to discover all the findings.
About the data
This report is based on figures from Zonal and CGA’s GO Technology survey, a sample of 5,000 nationally representative British consumers. All figures are taken from the February & October 2020 editions of the survey.
Integrating customer and operational data can empower businesses to overcome today’s challenges, and exploit tomorrow’s opportunities.
COVID-19 has decimated the hospitality industry. According to the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, the service sector that includes hospitality has sustained the worst impact of any industry.
As UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “hospitality is being asked to operate under the toughest restrictions of any sector and being given the highest mountain to climb in order to survive”. For many hospitality businesses, that survival is being driven by data.
Prior to COVID-19, forward-thinking operators used data to help them enjoy a competitive advantage and thrive. Now, data will be one of the many ingredients in surviving this crisis – and the most likely source of success as recovery begins next year.
Download our Whitepaper: Harnessing the power of data in the COVID-hit hospitality sector to discover how you could use data to aid business recovery in 2021.
In this Whitepaper you will learn about:
Pub and restaurant customers are a diverse bunch, but there are some interesting patterns when you start crunching the data: different groups of people have very different expectations when it comes to the booking and dining experience.
According to Zonal’s GO Tech research, there are distinct differences between differing age groups. Older customers are much more likely to check a pub or restaurant’s website before visiting the premises, with 34% of over-55s looking for special offers and deals compared to just 26% of 18 to 34s. The pattern repeats with booking information – 44% compared to 32% – and location information, which was required by 32% of over-55s compared to 22% of 18 to 34s.
Some things are universal, however. Across every demographic, the reasons for using a restaurant’s website are ranked in the same order of importance: the menu first (88%), followed by opening times (63%), booking information (38%), offers and deals (31%) and the drinks menu (29%). If your website people aren’t making it really easy for people to get those bits of information, you might want to have a word: when it comes to the biggest frustration with restaurant websites, 44% of people across all demographics say that it’s the lack of a viewable food menu. Difficulty in using or accessing the website is second (20%), followed by lack of booking information (12%), not listing opening times (10%) and not having a viewable drinks menu (7%).
That’s not to say that there aren’t some demographic differences in that data. The drinks menu is much more important to younger consumers: 41% of 18 to 34s check the drinks menu before visiting compared to just 21% of over-55s.
Points to remember:
Discover more about how Zonal’s loyalty management system gives you the tools to build smart loyalty programmes that reward your most loyal customers and encourage increased spend.
One of the most significant and important such trends is the move to cloud-based solutions, which are delivering measurable benefits to many restaurants.
If your business is already superb at what it does, cloud technology can make a good thing even better. By moving some of your infrastructure to the cloud you can reduce hardware and software costs, cut maintenance and training costs and introduce the ability to scale your solution up or down according to demand.
Not only that, up-front costs are usually minimal, ongoing costs are predictable and the right solution enables you to take full advantage of available technologies.
For example, you might want to move at least some of your EPoS system to mobile devices such as tablets, or to integrate different data sources to provide detailed analysis of occupancy, yield, customer behaviour, inventory management and marketing effectiveness. Life in the cloud can also help you to make it easier for your employees to schedule shifts by checking rotas electronically.
For many restaurants, the first step is to migrate reservations and waiting lists to the cloud. Such a move can enable customers to check availability and book online or via their mobile, and it can be used to offer last-minute availability in the event of cancellations or unexpected lulls. It can also send automated reminders to help prevent the dreaded no-shows that blight many businesses’ balance sheets.
In many cases, the IT manager can then make a strong case for moving more operations online, especially when it comes to data integration. That can deliver incredibly detailed insights into occupancy and even individual customers’ behaviour, can identify more efficient use of resources and can even lead to more aggressive booking windows by identifying just how long a table of X people will be occupied.
There are negatives too, of course. Some cloud-based systems are cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all operations. Many use their own branding rather than yours. Some contracts don’t fix costs in a way you’ll find acceptable, or charge a commission that can easily spiral out of control. And some vendors operate on a model where they own the data, so if you decide to cut loose and go elsewhere you can’t take your valuable data with you.
The biggest potential problem, though, is that your provider’s interests might not align with your own.
For example, if a platform is building its own brand in the consumer space, there’s a risk of your business becoming a cog in somebody else’s machine – something we’ve already seen in online retail and online ticketing, where the platform providers ended up dominating entire markets.
The right solution doesn’t do that. The right solution keeps you in control: control of your costs, control of your brand and, most importantly of all, control of your data.
26 unique award-winning venues across the UK
Brands include The Botanist, The Florist and The Canal House
Serving hand-crafted cocktails, award-winning cuisine and live music
Named one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK
Listed in The Times’ best 100 companies to work for
“When it came to developing and looking at what else we could do for our guests, we started looking at a few different apps. The EPoS integration and the fact that we’ve got all that data in one place, was the most valuable.”Kat Vickery, Systems Manager, The New World Trading Company
The New World Trading Company wanted to engage, delight and reward loyal guests, enhancing their experiences in-venue, so they created the My New World concept. As keen innovators and explorers, the team at New World were looking to develop an engaging mobile app that incorporated a range of functionality including loyalty, order and pay and gift cards among many others.
Integration to the EPoS and central access to data was essential
Needed a solution that could cope with a comprehensive and multi-faceted loyalty programme, as well as user-friendly order and pay functionality
Needed a provider who would be able to deliver a superior mobile user experience
After researching the market for solutions that would further enhance the guest experience, The New World Trading Company selected Zonal to deliver their technology vision.
This included a mobile app incorporating Order and Pay and Loyalty – both integrated with their existing Zonal EPoS software.
“At the touch of a button I can get guest information and details about their previous spending habits, their current spending habits. We can target rum drinkers, gin drinkers and target them with something that is a specific reward to them.”Kat Vickery, Systems Manager, The New World Trading Company
“It saves the queues on the bar. It saves the stress on the bar and it’s a better working environment.”Stephanie Lloyd, Sales & Marketing Director, New World Trading Company
So how can you increase revenue by improving the loyalty of your existing customer base? Here are 5 top strategies to help:
You could invest a lot of money in advertising, social media, and SEO, and people could still visit your restaurant once, never to return.
Before diners visit your venue, they’ll most likely have already formed expectations based on reviews or the information on your website. A consistent customer journey increases satisfaction, builds trust and boosts loyalty. Seemingly simple things like calling customers by their first name and taking notes of their preferences can make all the difference.
Another way to improve customer experience is to have an online booking system that shows real-time availability, regardless of booking size, ensuring your business can meet the expectations of customers, 24/7.
Customers love it when businesses care about the community. You don’t have to be part of a large franchise with a budget of millions in order to look at ways to give back to the local community. Taking part in local events, supporting a local cause or giving your space up for an event can help you build a stronger local network and customer base and it doesn’t take much to get started.
Special events are also a great way to encourage guests to re-visit. With the shift towards experiences, events such as trivia quizzes or bingo nights, to name a few, are making a come back!.
It helps you build a positive reputation for the business, makes you known within the community and helps form useful connections within your local area.
It goes without saying that social media is a great way to highlight your venue and interact with your customer base. By highlighting offers, sharing customer-generated content and responding to comments, social media can help you build an engaged following. Engaging with your customers via social media by running competitions, giving shout-outs or sharing and retweeting their photos and posts can make them feel special and boost customer loyalty.
It may seem obvious, but many restaurants still do not have loyalty programmes in place. It’s basic psychology: people are more likely to visit again if they get free stuff.
An effective loyalty programme can drive acquisition, retention and engagement post-visit if done well. With so many generic loyalty schemes out there how do you build a successful loyalty programme that’s right for your business?
Make sure your loyalty programme stands out and doesn’t just give the customer points every time they come in for a meal, or a discount when dining at a later date – everyone does that. Try offering membership levels or create offers for kids. Tailor the programme to fit your unique business and customer base and make it really stand out.
When it comes to loyalty schemes, Tesco’s Clubcard scheme is probably the oldest and well-known. However, you don’t need millions of pounds to run a programme that delights your customers the same way that Tesco’s does. By integrating your till with your other tech systems, you can build a valuable customer database that can be used to create your loyalty scheme and incentivise customers to revisit with personalised rewards which in turn boosts your profitability.
The integration allows you to capture and analyse valuable customer data with every transaction including what they’ve ordered, how much it cost, and how frequently they have visited. This data can help you create an effective and personalised loyalty programme suited to your customer database.
With so many loyalty programmes out there, knowing what loyalty programme to implement that’s right for your business isn’t always easy. For expert advice on building a successful loyalty scheme, download our guide on how to choose a high-performing loyalty programme for your hospitality venue.
Discover how Zonal’s fully EPoS-integrated Loyalty solution, available exclusively to Zonal EPoS customers, can help you build a loyal customer base and increase revenue. Read more
Every business wants to attract new customers, but not every business realises the importance of the customers they already have. Research shows that it takes seven new customers to equal the value of one repeat customer. Yet, most companies spend the majority of their marketing money on the customers they don’t have yet rather than on the ones they do.
One of the most effective ways to increase customer loyalty is through a personalised loyalty programme. But where do you start? How do you implement a loyalty scheme that’s right for you and your customers?
Download our guide How to Choose a High-performing Loyalty Programme for your Hospitality Venue to find out more about:
Watch our online webinar, where you can learn:
Watch our 50-minute insightful webinar with Bistrot Pierre Director of Marketing- Arpita Anstey, and Digital Marketing Manager, Susie Clark, for top tips and advice on how to build a successful loyalty programme.
Family run brewing business, established in 1882
One of Wales’ best-loved brands
220 pubs, inns and hotels
Brewers of an award-winning, diverse range of beers
“If you had told me at the start of this journey that we would have achieved a total of 183 installations without a hitch or single failure, then I would have laughed. But all credit to Zonal, thanks to their knowledge, expertise and support that’s exactly what has been achieved, and we look forward to building on this partnership over the coming months and years.”Steve Hicks, IT & Hospitality Manager, SA Brains
Welsh brewer, pub and hotel business, SA Brain, completed a seamless rollout of Zonal’s hospitality technology solutions to its 110 managed houses in just three months. All technology systems are fully integrated and comprise of Loyalty, Feed It Back guest feedback and Gift Cards.
“The feedback from our teams has been really positive; they now have the tools they need to deliver a fantastic experience to our customers, so they return and recommend us to their family and friends”Steve Hicks, IT & Hospitality Manager, SA Brains
SA Brain fully embraced Zonal’s integrated technology and following a comprehensive training programme and successful rollout with the superior knowledge, expertise and support of the Zonal team, the business has seen significant benefits
One of the UK’s oldest football clubs dating back to 1892
St James’ Park has a seating capacity of 52,388
Eighth largest football stadium in England
Host to other large events including World Cup Rugby and music concerts
Sodexo responsible for food and event management service
“Using contactless payment is a great way to reduce queues and improve speed of service and we are seeing a growth in demand for automated payments. For example, almost half of the 12,219 cashless transactions during our three World Rugby Cup fixtures, were contactless.”Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo
Due to the vast crowds of people attending the events at St James’ Park, Sodexo, Newcastle United’s food and events service provider, needed to be able to respond to customer demand as it occurred.
No live business intelligence showing customer demand hotpots on the ground at peak times
No insight into the behaviours adopted by fans and guests
Wanted to tailor rewards and promotions to customers
“The Zonal team is extremely knowledgeable and is able to serve up solutions that meet our very specific needs. They are always on hand to offer support and are very much part of our team”Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo
The EPoS solution implemented at St James’ Park includes an integrated payment system, with integrated Chip & Pin and contactless functionality as well as a Loyalty system to enable them to understand their customers’ behaviours.
“Zonal’s EPoS technology has revolutionised the service we offer fans and corporate guests, by giving us valuable live data so that we can respond to specific needs as they arise in the ground. For example, we can move staff around the ground to peak areas and shift stock items, such as hot dogs, if they’re proving more popular on a particular station.”Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo
Zonal’s technology solution for football stadia has provided Sodexo and Newcastle United Football Club with valuable live data feeds of activity hotpots during events through the EPoS system as well as valuable insight into the preferences and behaviours of fans and event goers through their Loyalty scheme.