At your service? What guests want from the connected hospitality experience

Despite being time poor and cost conscious, many of us would still rather dine out than order a takeaway from our smartphones; and we’re further attracted to hospitality venues that can bring a digital flavour to the experience they serve up.

While technologies such as contactless payments have become integral to the service we receive in bars, restaurants and hotels, new solutions are continually being deployed to make our experiences more convenient, transparent and enjoyable.

But how do we like to use this technology? We conducted a survey of 1000 UK consumers to find out.

Independents’ way

The independent guest likes to keep their service at arm’s length. To these patrons, the wealth of self-service technology finding its way into hospitality venues offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside world that’s in tune with their digital habits.

Almost half (43%) of us are keen on self-service technology, such as independent order points. Like the best smartphone apps, these devices present an accurate, real-time view of the available menu, and let us order at the touch of a button.

Hospitality vendors are making significant savings in staffing and time by automating process like this, and the data each exchange generates helps reveal customers’ menu and service preferences, enabling businesses to better meet their needs in the future.

And it’s not just about the ordering process – 57% of us like to pay independently, through apps such as Apple Pay; a preference that fast-food chains including McDonalds, KFC and Subway have noted and now facilitate.

Self-service devices help make online consumers more comfortable in the offline arena, and we found that two fifths of UK consumers (40%) are willing to place bigger orders when using them.

Man and machine

Self service may be popular, but for many it’s no substitute for the personal touch; more of us still prefer to be waited on.

Yet we especially like it when staff are able to employ digital devices while they serve us. Two-thirds (60%) of us want service staff to be equipped with tablets, so they can deliver in-depth, up-to-date information, and process orders and payments instantly. And, with a mobile framework behind them, today’s staff are freed up to serve us without moving back and forth from counter, to table, to kitchen, to checkout.

In fact, around a third of us (30%) expect staff equipped with technology to deliver a better customer experience than those without it.

Under pressure

Technology has become integral to the hospitality experience, and guests are demanding increasingly engaging and efficient solutions. Whether delivered via self-service technology or by mobile-enabled staff, it means that vendors’ business networks are feeling the pressure of hosting and handling so much activity.

And that’s before you take account of the further network strain caused by the 82% of us that use our own smartphones in hospitality venues.

There’s no use in offering futuristic technology if the infrastructure supporting it is prone to overloading, and we have little patience for badly-performing devices; for example, when staff devices don’t communicate with one another effectively, the majority of us (79%) are less likely to even place an order.

Whether your patrons want to be served or to serve themselves, you’ll need to ensure your technology can function quickly and securely; luring people away from the temptation of the takeaway requires a best-of-breed data network.

Vodat International’s managed network solutions offer hospitality vendors the peace of mind that their on-location technology will handle the mounting pressures of today’s connected consumer; read our miniguide to find out more.

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