By Katy Moses, founder andmanaging director, KAM Media

How many hospitality apps do you have on your phone? I’ve got a total of eight, all downloaded and used to varying degrees (of success!) over the last few months.

Katy KAM Media

It therefore came as no great surprise when KAM’s most recent research revealed that more than one in two customers are now getting a little peeved at having to download a new app each time they visit a new pub or restaurant.

That’s not to suggest in any way that customers don’t increasingly want technology in hospitality. The option to order at table, view the menu, and book a table etc are all fast becoming an expectation.

But with many new apps being launched, tech-providers and operators really need to work in harmony. We need to ensure the experience is frictionless and painless for customers.

Growing demand for pay at table

KAM has carried out some eye-opening research with our friends at OrderPay which shows that, without a doubt, customers are increasingly expecting (even demanding) a more technology-led experience. This is especially true with regard to ordering and paying at table, as well as pre-ordering services. Forty-one per cent of customers say that over the last six months it’s become more important to them that venues offer this.

Consumers are more ‘information hungry’ than ever as they remain alert to the potential risks from covid-19. Technology and digital channels can play a role in improving communication and reassuring customers. The research revealed, for example, that 92% want to see clear communication of safety measures via operators websites and apps.

This desire for technology-enhanced hospitality experiences isn’t new. Many customers, especially Generation Z, have been asking for this for a while. A phenomenal one in two customers think that pubs and bars in particular are behind other leisure outlets and retail when it comes to their use of tech.

Even before covid-19 hit, 43% of 18- to 34-year-olds had used an app to pay a bill in a pub or restaurant. Twenty-eight per cent would have liked the ability to order and pay even before arriving at the venue.

Using date to power decisions

The research also found that two-thirds of consumers find it frustrating when waiting to pay their bill at the end of a meal. A similar percentage of consumers often find it annoying when trying to split the bill with friends at the end of a meal.

Covid or not, these are ‘pain points’ in the customer journey which have been around for years. I’m not suggesting technology will take away all our troubles, but in a multitude of ways it can certainly help minimise them.

Obviously, technology isn’t just about directly improving customer experience either. All these new apps — track and trace, wifi, additional pre-bookings, increased web visits, and guest feedback platforms — are all critical ways to get to know your customers so much better (and not just the regulars!).

Tech in hospitality is now not only widely welcomed, it’s expected by customers. But remember that tech should only exist to enhance the customer experience — tech for tech’s sake does nobody any favours!

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