Hospitality industry sinks teeth into ‘dine-in tech’ to beef up Customer Experience
The Bella Vista Hotel in Sydney’s Hills district is taking a deep dive into the realm of dine-in technology in a bid to serve up improved customer experience and dish up data insights for the growing hospitality business.
Momento Hospitality group business development manager, Nicole Brooke, told CIO Australia the technology is officially in trial mode at the Bella Vista Hotel, a boutique venue that opened its doors in 2012.
The hotel located in the Norwest Business Park has implemented dine-in technology (created and powered by Bella Vista-based start-up, Order Up!) to tap and order from the table, which can be done by the patrons phone.
Momento Hospitality, run by the Colosimo family, own and operate The Hillside Hotel in Castle Hill, The Governor in Macquarie Park (hatched in 2019), and soon to be launched Mullane’s Hotel in Norwest.
The Colosimo’s first embarked on their hospitality journey in 1976, opening a bottle shop in Baulkham Hills. As the story goes, their philosophy was to “treat customers the way you want to be treated.”
Brooke said the customer service aspect is still an integral part of the business today – as the company aims to get more in touch with consumers, elevate the CX and amplify its digital operations.
“We want to stay ahead of the game – and it partly comes down to using technology. We want to be able to give our customers the best experience possible when they’re dining in our venue. Having this technology – where they don’t have to leave the table – is convenient and a game changer.
“In the hospitality industry we’re going to be one of the leaders in that regard. We’re always looking at ways to improve the customer experience.”
Order Up! founder and CEO, John Saadie, has created this technology and is starting to deploy in venues across Australia. “It’s an online pre-ordering system so you can order in-venue,” he said, explaining the platform can also be used to order takeout.
“You can order for delivery and the platform also does room service,” he said, explaining he’s recently launched the platform at The Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains, while the Mercure in Canberra is soon to come onboard, and the platform is already live at the Novotel in Cairns.
“We play in the four-star space where the hotels have a restaurant downstairs. Room service isn’t traditionally a big thing for them, but they’re trying to make it another option for their customers in terms of the customer experience, and to cut out the phone orders in-room.
“With all the technology in the world, all the hotels still have somebody operating phones and punching those orders in,” he said explaining the goal is to automate and to gather reams of data.
“It’s not just about the customer experience, but venues now have the ability to see a lot more data they weren’t seeing before, and now have a lot more ability to upsell, which is huge. And the system is starting to learn the customer’s habits, and can upsell the appropriate items.”
He said Order Up! has been in the game since 2011, with the bulk of the business today in restaurants and hotels.
“We’re disrupting the disruptors,” he said, explaining there’s a surge of restaurants and venues wanting to rebel against the traditional aggregators like Uber Eats and Menulog and introduce their own ordering platforms.
“We’re basically the other side of the Uber Eats ecosystem. Uber Eats and the Menulogs are the marketplaces that send traffic to venues and give them orders.
“Instead, we’re the white label technology that lets venues run their own brand and have control over their data. We share the data with the venue. It’s their data. They can use it for marketing and internal purposes.”
Essentially, Saadie said the technology gives a venue like the Bella Vista Hotel more control over its own personal branding.
“When you look at a venue like this, it’s got a personality. It’s got a style and we allow them to translate that online. That’s the essence of the product. In the hospitality industry with these marketplaces [Uber Eats and Menulog] it’s becoming very bland. Everyone is just a menu online.”
Brooke said there’s a host of benefits by adopting their own platform. For consumers, they can tap and order from the table, providing a convenient and multilingual experience, if required.
For the venue, it eliminates the need for heavy application development and expensive device purchases; gives the ability to upsell; streamlines the ordering process; and tracks all the necessary data and houses it in one location.
“We have trialled a different app in one of our other venues – The Governor Hotel. The Bella Vista one is something that will roll on in conjunction with that.
“We’ve already seen success with our customers engaging more with us using that technology at The Governor. Everyone has a device or a mobile, always in their hand, and we want to be able to give that point of difference with our service.”
With the technology in use at The Governor Hotel, Brooke said the company is looking to track the data of the person purchasing at the till, the food they’re ordering, what their average spend is, whether they’re apart of the local clubs that the company sponsors, and to capture their birthday information.
Not only will this type of technology replace the traditional buzzer system, but it will capture reams of customer insights, Saadie explained.
“It will tear up the traditional buzzer. That’s a cost. The beauty of what we call customer experience for venues is that they’re getting the data that they previously didn’t get. Right now, if there’s 100 people in a venue, the operator doesn’t know their names. They know nothing. They are getting an anonymous credit card number. They don’t know who they are.”
Brooke agreed, explaining the newfound data gives the venue the ability to personalise the experience and offer tailored and targeted communications with customers in-venue and out.
“At the end of your meal, you will get something that we can tailor to say, ‘Thank you for visiting; thanks for dining with us.’
“We can time an SMS while they’re in venue – twenty minutes after they’ve picked up their main meal – and offer them a coffee and desert special, or send other alerts to them while in venue about the cocktail specials.”
But Brooke said there’s a lot of education needed on the customer data front in terms of downplaying fears about the misuse of data or breach of privacy.
“We want to change the perception of customers thinking we want their data for the wrong reasons. We want their data because we want to be able to offer them an improved experience, and offer them what they like.
“We’re not doing it because we want to bombard you with junk mail. It’s more about tailoring the experience that you want as a consumer – and we can deliver that.