The good news is: the newest consumers are looking for experiences with their purchases. They are spending less on goods and more on activities which portends well for restaurants and the travel industry.
The not so good news? The newest consumers are looking for experiences with their purchases.
So, why does this fact carry both promise and concern? This means that, as a restaurateur, it’s not enough to provide tasty food and a nice ambiance. You need to reach out and engage and, for the newest generations that have never known a world without the internet, many can be reached via digital technology.
So, how do you get this groups attention? No, it’s not just about Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The newest restaurant models are taking, addressing, and implementing data…big data…to help streamline, define, and increase profits while promoting a unique and personal experience for its guests.
The History of Big Data
Before the advent of the digital age, restaurants used to track customer preferences on sticky notes or guest comment cards, and ledgers recorded penciled-in sales. Point-of-Sales systems started the foray into electronic record keeping and data analytics, though ease of use and early POS systems would be considered oxymorons.
The next step was systems that could translate data in a way that us mere mortals could understand—a common language with a dialect that was not so strong as to require an IT technician on your restaurant staff. It was 1999 when Avero produced a POS that provided an overview of food costs, scheduling, inventory, sales and even customer behavior.
Today’s world of high speed and data driven analytics has produced real-time tools that are combining the data a restaurant has accumulated with outside sources such as review sites, social media and tracking apps. And in the process, the companies producing this new wave of technology are changing the face (and profitability) of many restaurants.
The Changing Landscape
Did you know that Mr. Smith frequented your restaurant every Friday for two months? And every Friday he ordered your steak au poivre? While an astute manager or server will certainly have taken notice, they may not have the means to email them a thank you with a discount that applies to their next visit, prompting them to invite the guest they’ve been thinking about introducing to your restaurant.
These systems also track your servers, identifying which ones are actively upselling and which ones could use a little more education in the art of sales.
Restaurants that are Embracing Data-Driven Technology
Silverspot Cinemas, a theater and restaurant concept based in Florida, is expanding across the South and Midwest and using this new technology to help them determine the right locations. Acutely, a data analytics firm determines “who” their best customers and where these guests are located in target regions.
City Winery uses analytics to track a customer’s orders and recommend rare wines based on previous purchases. They are calling this process their Virtual Wine Sommelier.
Systems Promoting Choices Through Data
- Upserve—This system creates a profile on every guest. It calculates the amount of their expenditures, what they are ordering, and when and what time they frequented your establishment. It utilizes online groups such as LinkedIn and Facebook to put a face to the facts so that your staff will recognize your guests and can address them by name.
You want to know what dishes are making the grade and which are underperformers? Upserve not only creates this data but goes so far as to calculate which meals are ordered by first-time guests but not by repeat customers.
- OpenTable is known as the app that potential guests are using to find your restaurant and then make reservations. What you may not know is that it is also the app that restaurants are using to learn more about their diners. This massive database gains insight into diners that restaurants can use to promote their specials, keep tab of drink preferences, and adjust their menus.
From operations to customer preferences, real-time analytics can increase your guest counts, boost sales, track the increase in check totals, and help you determine the optimal pricing strategy. Mike Lukianoff, chief analytics officer at Fishbowl Marketing Analytics, stressed the importance of tailoring marketing messages, “…Just by targeting the right message, I’ve seen double-digit improvement in marketing effectiveness…”