Extra technology focus needed for pubs and restaurants in 2014

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Mobile phone

Diners at STK London will be able to have a direct line to their personal waiters, who will be wearing Galaxy Gear smart watches
Diners at STK London will be able to have a direct line to their personal waiters, who will be wearing Galaxy Gear smart watches
Pub and restaurant operators ‘must embrace new technologies’ in order to be profitable next year, as the pace of change and the use of smartphones and social media is set to accelerate even further.

That’s according to Will Hawkley, director of KPMG’s Leisure Advisory Group, who says most of the industry developments in 2014 will be driven by interactive technological advancements.

“Seventy years ago, the average life span of a company in the S&P 500 index was 75 years, today that has fallen to 15 years and in 2025 the expected life span will be five years. The winning companies of today could be losers very quickly if they fail to keep pace with the changes around them, no matter what industry or sector they are operating in.

Hawkley believes pub and restaurant operators need to adapt business models for the coming 12 months, identifying five key areas businesses need to look at - social media and mobile apps, Big data, mobile payments, wearable technologies and funding.

“Operators who can generate and analyse their customer data most effectively will be able to generate long-term relationships with their customers to drive repeat visits, increased spend and higher net promoter scores. 

​As consumers become increasingly comfortable with cashless payment such as Oyster, people will wish to pay via their mobile devices without having to use an app to do so.  The major mobile phone companies have joined together to develop a universal mobile payment platform and the major banks will be launching their mobile payment platform, Zapp , in 2014.

“Consumers are now wearing technology and using apps that measure everything that they do on a daily basis producing huge amounts of data.”

Interactive dining

One such business making use of ‘wearable’ technology is hospitality operator The ONE Group, which has partnered with Samsung to give guests at its STK restaurant at the ME London Hotel an interactive dining experience.  

Will STK London's interactive dining experience be followed by other operators next year?

Parties of 12 diners at the restaurant’s Captain’s Table are now able to order food and drinks via a Bluetooth connection with their personal waiter and bartender via the new Galaxy Note 3. Diners will be able to have a direct line to their personal waiters - who will be wearing Galaxy Gear smart watches - by sending a message via their Galaxy Note. They can also interact with the resident DJs who will also wear his own Galaxy Gear.

Jon Yantin, commercial director of The ONE Group, said: “Using the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Galaxy Note 3 allows our personal service to extend above and beyond, creating a further vivid and fun dining environment for our guests."

Hawkley’s comments about technological advances in the hospitality industry are supported by research released earlier this week by business advisory firm Zolfo Cooper.

A nationwide survey of 2,000 UK consumers found that 64 per cent of respondents own a smartphone (rising to 84 per cent of 18-34 year-olds), with 46 per cent of this group having used it to research a venue or event, and 27 per cent having booked a venue/tickets using their phone.

Moreover, 11 per cent  of all respondents had used ‘contactless payment’ in a bar or restaurant in the past 12 months; and 32 per cent would use contactless payment if they had the opportunity to do so in the next year.

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1 comment

Technology in Pubs & Restaurants

Posted by Gerry Skews,

This is a good summary of trends and possible outcomes of technology introduction in the industry, however there is a clear and developing risk that the barriers to entry and business development are being raised as these trends develop, especially for smaller and independent businesses. I operate two restaurants in Cambridge and have recently switched our online bookings system to one we developed ourselves. It cut the cost of monthly subscriptions to the online booking system from about £500 per month to about £25 per month and our online bookings have actually increased. Our customers are no longer receiving e-mail blitzes from competitive restaurants after booking with us. I am fortunate to have spent a number years in developing technology systems so developing our own online system was relatively simple but it still only took two weeks to set it up.

My point is; it is important to examine all alternatives in relation to implementing new technology particularly for small and medium sized businesses. The online booking system we were using was expensive and my customer data was being shared with competitors who were prepared to pay for it. I was effectively paying for my competitors to access my customers.

Equally it is important to use social media and other techniques to communicate with customers so they are kept up to date which can be time consuming and expensive, so its not just a quick fix but there are tools and techniques that are not expensive and can help independent restaurants compete with the chains.

Quite a few restaurants and pubs in the area simply can't afford expensive online systems, and I am certainly happy to share our experience with others.


Gerry Skews

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