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As hotel lobbies transform from simple reception counters to vibrant spaces featuring coffee bars, grab and go stations, and all-day dining, owners and operators are realizing just how complex it can be to handle increasingly diverse services.
Many brands are experimenting with new concepts. Marriott’s Moxy hotels, for example, make food and beverage a focus in the lobby at all hours, with a self-service buffet at breakfast, a fully-stocked food wall, and full-service bars. At the Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort & Spa, homemade snacks and pastry-making demonstrations encourage guests to be hands-on. The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa in Mexico has a ceviche and tequila bar in its lobby. At the Ace Hotel Chicago, the lobby’s all-day cafe City Mouse is run in partnership with Giant, a buzzy local favorite. And in September, Hyatt announced a partnership with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer, who will spearhead food and beverage concepts for the hotel company’s forthcoming brand, Caption. One of the differentiators for Caption, Hyatt said, will be its “vibrant mash-up between café, market, and bar.”
With everything converging in hospitality, hoteliers are now selling way more than just beds. This is, of course, a way for hotels to maximize earnings by increasing customer spend — but the strategy also helps generate incremental revenue during low occupancy periods by targeting and attracting locals.
It is easy to see why hotels are tapping into this space given its vast potential. Overall consumer spending on hotel food and beverage has shown a robust 5.5 percent annual growth rate since 2011 and increased 4.9 percent to $48.7 billion in 2017, according to research done by Technomic, a research and consulting firm focused on the food industry.
As hotels further tap into this trend, they’re leveraging technology to optimize operations, according to a 2018 report by Deloitte. As a result, many restaurants are equipping themselves with new tools to reinforce operational excellence, enhance workforce capabilities, and improve guest experiences.
A Fragmented Restaurant Tech Landscape
However, with the variety of digital tools available, the restaurant tech landscape has become highly crowded and fragmented, with countless providers offering many different solutions. This ends up complicating the tech adoption process. “Historically hotel restaurants have introduced digital tools one at a time, frequently from different vendors,” said Matthew Stubbs, CEO of BookingTek. “Restaurants might use one platform for floor management and another for marketing. It’s just the way the industry and technology providers in the industry evolved — in silos.”
Those silos can be particularly frustrating for hotels, which often have multiple food and beverage outlets on the property, each of which might be using a different system — or even systems. Hotels can end up with four or five tools from three different vendors, Stubbs said. (It’s more common than you might think. One report from Toast, a restaurant tech platform, found that 22 percent of restaurants surveyed use three vendors and that 26 percent use four or more different tech products to manage operations. Just 26 percent of restaurants use one technology vendor, Toast said.)
“It gets complicated when tools don’t talk to each other and you have to export reports and data and compare it with reports from other tools. It’s very time consuming,” Stubbs said.
How Hotels Are Simplifying Operations and Boosting Efficiency
The better way forward is through an integrated suite of digital tools that are flexible and powerful enough to handle everything at once, he added. BookingTek’s TableRes Digital is one such solution, and it’s particularly beneficial for large chains of hotels and resorts operating multiple restaurants, bars, and cafes across their estate, Stubbs said.
TableRes joins together functions like direct reservations, third party reservations, mobile order & pay, floor management, customer reviews, marketing automation, and consolidated analytics into one easy-to-use dashboard. Moreover, integration with the hotel’s point of sale system enables guests to seamlessly pay across all food and beverage outlets at a property, whether they choose a credit card, e-wallet, or room charge. A companion app allows guests and visitors to freely order food and beverages anywhere throughout the hotel, further enhancing the guest experience. After all, who wouldn’t want poolside drinks without having to get up from that lounge chair?
Beyond these benefits, a platform like TableRes Digital generates new and previously untapped opportunities for hotels. By putting everything in one place, the tool empowers managers to better understand consumer trends and behaviors and helps them maximize food and beverage revenues.
For instance, restaurants who leverage the technology are able to link reservations to detailed guest profiles. These individual guest profiles are available to every restaurant, in every hotel (within a group) worldwide. This allows restaurants to personally welcome guests with a high loyalty status and greet them. This level of insight — which might otherwise be lost in various silos — lets food and beverage professionals create customized dining experiences and lets the hotel foster a new type of hyper-personalized loyalty.
An integrated solution can both boost efficiency and yield incremental revenue while also giving the management team a more holistic, unified view into the performance of their restaurants. With more and more innovative food and beverage offerings sure to arrive in the coming years, the right digital tech stack will be increasingly critical to success.