The Future Technology Trends Shaping the Hotel and Restaurant Sectors in 2017

Will waiting staff still be using paper and pen in 10 years’ time? Ten years ago I embarked upon an endeavour to answer this question by opening a technology driven restaurant called Inamo. When we started, there were no android tablets, no iPads, no App Store or Google Play. It was a time when phones had keyboards, large touch screen displays were expensive and iTunes and the iPod were only four years old.

Since then, entire industries across the world have been changed by the universality of web technologies, and the huge pots of untapped value to be found in data – big and small. Interestingly, in 2017, we’ll see the hospitality sector starting to take advantage of this too.

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In America, we’re seeing early signs of guest facing technology within restaurants and hotels. In restaurant outlets across the US, customers are able to order their food and drink at the table through technology such as Ziosk and Presto. In hotels, guests can order room service and access concierge services through technologies such as Crave and Intelity.  However, these technologies have not yet achieved this level of adoption in the UK, but one clear trend we’ll definitely see emerging throughout 2017, is customer ordering through tablets and phones in hotels and restaurants.

Another area where we are seeing key in-roads of early adopters is payment. Currently, the facility is a fragmented market outside of cash and credit cards.  Apple watches facilitate payment through NFC, whilst Flypay and Zapper have made in-roads into the device payment markets. Also making an impact on the capacity for customers to make payment through non-standard means are Square, iZettle and Miura.

My three predictions for payments in the future are…

  1. Payment will become more consolidated. A few companies will obtain a growing market share of non-standard payments and we will see significant increases in payment through apps on consumers own devices.
  2. Payment will become easier – and not through a waiter in a restaurant or to check out in person at a hotel.
  3. Payment will become cheaper. Currently, UK operators might pay anything from say 1% to 3% on average for payment processing. As we move to new technologies, the overheads of processing these payments will come down, making it easier to undercut the high prices.  These numbers could move to 0.5% – 2% for those operators prepared to embrace new technologies.

If I had to lay my hat at the door of one word which will be changing the future of technology as we know it within the hospitality sector, it would be integration.

Currently, the majority of operators don’t have integrated systems. What they do have is one system for reservations, EPOS, payment, HR, training and accounts, together with another for stock control.  This is an immense drain on resources for operators and completely unnecessary.

This is all about to change! What we’ll start seeing is a single interface, where a username and password can access all employee information, check the reservations book, review last night’s takings, check staff performance reviews and training, whilst also assessing monthly management accounts and stock levels across all sites.

I believe there is room for consolidation across reservations, EPOS, payment, stock control and HR, to deliver dynamic, open platforms that are easy for operators to work with.

What operators should be looking to achieve is a single, holistic customer journey. To give you an example, as a customer, I might make a reservation on my phone.  When I arrive at the restaurant, my phone pings and my booking is engaged, the host station is alerted and either they or the system automatically assigns me a table. I can then view the menu and order through my phone, or an in-site device.  After placing my order, it can be reviewed by the waiting staff and sent directly to the EPOS, kitchen and bar with any notes or amends. Simple – and all with minimal data entry by staff.

The EPOS has tracked my order, reduced stock levels and can remove items from the menu that are no longer available. I conclude my meal, order the bill and leave a nice review which gets sent straight to TripAdvisor. However, cleverly, waiting staff don’t need to give me my bill because the payment has been processed through my phone. My receipt is sent via email along with a marketing message and a promise of 20% off my next bill (if I’m back by January bringing a couple of friends).

This integrated world opens up free marketing for operators, reducing payment costs, whilst tracking huge amounts of valuable data. It’s a win, win situation for operators, as it also results in improved stock control, staff performance and efficiencies. Wait times and restaurant prices are reduced and most importantly, customers leave with a better, engaged experience.

Operators slow to adopt such technologies will find themselves at a comparative disadvantage – because in 10 years’ time my prediction is significantly fewer wait staff will be using a paper and pen.

Daniel Potter, CEO, Ordamo

For further information about Ordamo visit www.ordamo.com or call 0207 388 7773.

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