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How technology can aid you in having the most profitable festive season ever

Rupert Gutteridge, CEO of Ordamo, looks ahead to the season of celebration

The hospitality industry was a major casualty of the pandemic with last year’s festive season being considered a washout. However, despite obstacles, the sector is back in full swing and gearing up for the season of eating or drinking out. This Christmas is particularly important for anyone with a stake in the sector, and it is essential to maximise the pent-up demand.

In a recent study by Ordamo, we found through speaking to hundreds of hospitality professionals that over a third (39.4 per cent) of hospitality workers are optimistic and excited for what is set to be their busiest business period for almost two years, and more than a third (35.5 per cent) are predicting a better than usual festive period this year.

With various issues currently impacting the sector, more than ever it is essential to be prepared for all eventualities so that your business can maximise on this historically excellent money-making time of year. Employing the latest tools and getting ahead of the game has significant benefits and can help to ease any increased pressure on you as a business. This is backed up by the Q3 Business Confidence survey, with reports that more than 9 in 10 leaders say technology has been either fundamental (44 per cent) or helpful (50 per cent) to their return, and nearly half (47 per cent) have improved their view of it as a consequence of the pandemic.

Staff shortages:

This year, the desire to celebrate together is greater than ever. Maximising on jam-packed bookings and creating much-needed profit means overcoming the reduced staffing pool, which has particularly hit this industry. Jane Pendlebury, CEO of HOSPA has highlighted the knock-on effects of this saying that “disappointed guests lead to reputational issues, while overstretched staff struggling to hold the fort which can lead to burnout, runs the risk of yet more people leaving the industry”.

That said, this does not have to be the case. The right technology means that the everyday mundane and repetitive pressures will be taken off your staff to allow them to delight customers and ultimately drive repeat visits and profitable loyalty.

Fundamentally, capable staff are now a hot commodity, and it is vital to keep them happy with better pay than your competitors. This has been recognised by Luke Fryer, CEO & Founder of Harri, the workforce management technology firm “with the available talent pool seemingly set to contract for the foreseeable future operators have a clear opportunity to leverage technology to improve retention by enhancing the employee experience and also work to re-allocate labour away from tasks that can be automated.”

Financial gain:

Post-pandemic, many hospitality businesses are catching up with losses. And there’s evidence of this progress with hundreds of new restaurants opening over the last couple of months as well as the struggle that guests have experienced in trying to book tables.

Last month, we were pleased to hear that Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has sought to protect our industries and help to aid recovery through a 50 per cent business rate cut as well as pledging to cut the costs for the majority of alcohol. This is brilliant news, especially in the build up to the festive season when it has never been more vital to lure back customers for their Christmas parties.

As the momentum of consumer confidence builds, there are many ways to earn revenue and cut costs. However, it must be emphasised that these will not look the same as in previous years as customers habits have changed and they’re veering towards different options, so it is essential to adapt accordingly. Rajesh Vohra, Director of Sarova Hotel has noted that it is essential to be accommodating towards room service as opposed to dine-in and to have a suitable, efficient platform for this. Subsequently, since implementing Ordamo, he has “seen a significant rise in transactions across our venues, even amidst uncertainty.”

Within restaurants, more so than ever, time is money, and the payment process can be a big obstacle in sitting your next customers down. Handheld POS systems have been invaluable in streamlining operations meaning that customers spend less time waiting for their food and bill whilst the operator drives footfall and, consequently, cash.

Customer service:

Without a doubt, hospitality venues have experienced the pent-up demand post-lockdown after so long spent stuck inside which has led to increased revenue. Now the pressure is on to perform well to maximise on this despite concerns about staffing issues.

Going digital when it comes to customer service can seem like an oxymoron but over the last year and a half, even the most tech-phobic have had their lives digitised whether for work or leisure. What used to be seen as an option primarily for budget-venues is now welcomed by well-renowned upmarket establishments such as St Martin’s Lane stepping into the ‘new normal’.

This digital experience has been particularly invaluable with getting people back out and about. The recent addition of being able to order food and drink straight to your seat onboard Grand Central trains thanks to our partnership with Whoosh on its Real-Time Journey Dashboard is a case in point. The travel-improving tech platform means that customers feel informed on everything from delays to accessibility onboard to safety procedures, leaving them to just travel in style. This fundamentally drives profit with customers committing their loyalty to a relaxed and bespoke service, especially when it comes to the festive period and the inevitable travel to see loved ones. Grand Central said of the tech, “In this day and age, it is essential to have a digital strategy, and this has simply transformed ours. The QR code technology is now regularly used by the majority of our customers and with the addition of at-seat catering, there has been a dramatic increase in revenue onboard.”

With the power of spending this Christmas firmly in the customers hands, intuitive and efficient service is necessary to compete. This is something that Whoosh has been doing since its inception. Edmund Caldecott, CEO, said “technology must be embraced by businesses as it has been by the nation. It provides a heartbeat of bespoke guest experience and drives profit continuously”.

As a result of the pandemic, there has been a shift into takeaway culture as many consumers considered it to be a touch of normality in the bleak winter months. This has continued as a legacy of the pandemic and increased demand for Point of Sale (POS) technologies, like touchscreen terminals due to their increased efficiency. In these days of a quick staff turnover, a good POS software is easy-to-understand and can be picked up quickly. Also, more restaurants than ever are now relying on off-premises dining channels to keep afloat and there are endless different ways to have food delivered to your door, all promising for it to arrive in the time it takes to get your coat on.

For example, according to the Guide to the Restaurant Guest During COVID-19, 27 per cent of guests reported that they would be ordering takeout more than prior to the pandemic. It is therefore essential to have an integrated online ordering solution so that you can continue to ride this trend and increase profit. Whether enabling efficient in-premises ordering to takeaway, or delivery, a good interface could be the difference between a consumer ordering direct or through a third-party and is a sure-fire way to increase profitability.

In the last couple of months, there has been a significant rise in people returning to their offices after months of remote working. This has delighted the likes of Pret a Manger, Leon and Itsu and it is more important than ever before for office workers to be served efficiently. Therefore, with reduced staff, self-order kiosks are popping up in fast casual restaurants. These are easy enough to use for even the most flustered of office workers. They are also brilliant for returning autonomy into diners’ hands with more control over the ordering process and presenting customisable options. On average, they also increase spend with upsell prompts and offers presented at each step of the way at the same time whilst bridging the gap of reduced staffing.

Supply issues:

Every industry has been affected by a reduced supply for various reasons and these can cause chaos in restaurant and hotel kitchens but there is no need for then to. Without access to supplies, certain dishes have to be taken off the menu, but by using a digital menu, venues can easily and instantly remove an item from the menu to maintain their professional reputation and once supplies reach the kitchens again, dishes can be returned to the menu with just a few clicks.

This has been pivotal for Inamo, London’s award-winning, interactive Asian fusion restaurant as Lee Skinner, CEO states that their long-term use of such a platform “enables [them] to dynamically alter menus and pricing to smooth over supply chain issues and changing market conditions”. This technology may be essential this Christmas with many anxieties bubbling regarding a lack of turkey, which is set to cause chaos for diners.

There is no single source for supply issues with contributing causes which include the pandemic, world geopolitics, and the Suez Canal debacle. So, with no clear end date for these issues nor predictions of what there may be a shortage of next, another solution must be in place to ride the post-Covid wave.

Covid uncertainty:

Despite the eagerness to enjoy two festive seasons in one, many guests are still feeling cautious regarding Covid-19 and are anxious about getting out and about. Therefore, managing the festive hustle and bustle in a safe manner is paramount, and hospitality workers should take a critical eye and reduce human contact where possible. This is something Grand Central has taken onboard (pun intended!). Caldecott has commented that “through Ordamo’s facilitating of the seamless ordering of refreshments, stresses are quashed with a reduction in the number of people in carriage passageways and risks removed in the buffet car as well as the added bonus of delivering significant efficiencies.”

With a lack of restrictions so far (fingers crossed!), there is more demand than ever before for consumers to celebrate the festive period with their families, friends and colleagues. Meaning significant potential for profit in a sector hit hard. Preparedness despite the current hurdles is key. In the digital age, technology is your hardest worker and can significantly ease supply issues, financial worries and safety concerns, whilst also leaving your customers happy and keen to return to your venue in the new year and beyond.

Ordamo is a leading digital order and pay technology provider for the hospitality. The revenue-boosting technology is available as a mobile website accessed through a QR code, as well as, tabletop tablets and kiosks. This platform has benefits for both hospitality outlets and their customers, the latter experience excellent service whilst the former tackle staffing issues and drive-up revenues.


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