Skift Take

The travel and hospitality industry is indeed putting Big Data to use. One of the chief problems, though, is figuring out what to do with the massive amounts of data that guests provide every day.

And you thought airlines were the kings and queens of upselling.

In the hospitality arena, Four Seasons is making upselling a science in the restaurants it manages. In fact, there is a gamification element to the endeavor.

Using Big Data reports and other services from Avero, Four Seasons started a global competition called Catch Me If You Can among wait staff across the restaurants it manages. Four Seasons tracked the amount of each waiter’s or waitress’ average check to see which ones were producing the highest-average checks from their restaurant customers and which waitrons weren’t.

In other words, Four Seasons was researching which servers were asking customers if they wanted to order that pricy special — an extra drink or dessert — and which ones weren’t putting in an effort to upsell food and beverage.

Using Avero software, Four Seasons measured how each restaurant was performing based on a comparison with year-earlier operations. Four Seasons did this on a restaurant by restaurant basis because it is a global company and might manage a property at a beach resort in Europe and another in a U.S. city center, with each having their seasonal variables.

It wasn’t all about the bottom line, according to Guy Rigby, Four Seasons’ vice president of food and beverage in the Americas, who discussed the chain’s use of Big Data at the TechTable Summit in Manhattan September 10.

Four Seasons wants every customer to have a similar experience, Rigby said. “We are all about consistency.”

Rigby credits the program with raising the amount of the average check in its restaurants in the Americas 5.7 percent in one month compared with the same month a year earlier.

In this way, Four Seasons could also monitor the performance of its restaurant servers regardless if they worked for the establishment for 15 years or just a few months, he said.

The chain awarded prizes to staff as part of the competition, which Rigby argued improved the dining experience, as well.

Four Seasons’ use of Big Data in the restaurants it manages went beyond upselling food and beverage, too.

Rigby said the chain also used the Big Data to alter the scheduling of dining reservations during holiday periods when guests tend to linger at the table longer, slowing the turnover of tables.

When it came to the upselling part, though, you can bet that the most successful waiters and waitresses were not warning their guests that they would be eating a lousy meal if they stuck with one of the lower-priced meal choices. That may work for some airlines but it doesn’t translate well into the restaurant business.

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Tags: big data, dining, four seasons

Photo credit: Preparing brunch at Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus. Four Seasons

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