Consumers are increasingly open to the use of technology in hospitality experiences, according to new research.
As venues begin to re-open across Scotland, research from family-owned tech firm Zonal and CGA reveals the pandemic has highlighted the benefits of technology in improving visits.
Stats from the latest GO Technology report show that nearly half (40%) of respondents agree that technology improves experiences from start to finish.
Additionally, the report notes that safety is no longer identified as the main benefit of technology in hospitality for consumers.
Nearly one-third (31%) of respondents said that speed and convenience was the main benefit of tech, while ease of ordering and tracking orders were also identified as benefits for customers.
The adoption of technology was increasing in the hospitality industry prior to the onset of the pandemic, but Zonal Group Product Director Alison Vasey said the last 12-months have rapidly accelerated adoption.
During the pandemic, technology solutions were used primarily to ensure safe practices and continuity of service. However, Vasey said the report shows many consumers hope venues continue to digitally transform moving forward.
“What this new research shows is that having accepted the technology, consumers now see how it improves their hospitality experiences,” she said.
“This is because technology not only removes pain points that have always existed, such as not being able to get the attention of a server or having to wait too long to settle the bill, but it also helps operators deliver more tailored and personalised experiences to their guests,” Vasey added.
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Long-term, the increased use of technology could help alleviate the traditional strains of service, Vasey noted, in turn freeing up staff to concentrate on elements of service that consumers value.
Notably, the report shows that over half of consumers (51%) prefer to be welcomed in-person when arriving at a venue.
This, Zonal said, demonstrates how integrated technologies can help businesses personalise arrivals. – for example, by showing guests preferred tables or suggesting menu items based on previous orders.
In regard to ordering, the GO Technology report also revealed that top guest frustrations include:
- Struggling to get a server’s attention (30% of respondents)
- Items they want not being available (22% of respondents)
- Being rushed to place their order (18% of respondents)
All of these issues, Zonal insisted, can be solved through the adoption of tech. Furthermore, integrating front and back-of-house technology can address other frustrations, such as waiting too long for food, an issue which 24% of respondents said was the most frustrating aspect of eating out.
“Digital solutions can free up servers to spend more valuable time with guests, for example, while digital ordering processes can ensure servers have access to real-time stock levels and other crucial information to help them answer customer queries,” the firm said.
Moving away from the pandemic, hospitality businesses that can make the best of technology will likely be the quickest to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, according to Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director for hospitality operators and food.
“As they get back to eating and drinking out, consumers will be engaging with technology more deeply than ever before, and it’s going to be a key battleground for market share in 2021 and beyond,” he asserted.
“Ensuring that digital solutions provide a genuine benefit, and balancing them with the face-to-face elements of hospitality that people have missed so much, will be crucial,” Chessell added.