There’s a lot to be said about becoming a restaurant regular: it usually means better service, personal touches, and an overall sense of community (ya know, if you tip well).
But what if you could effectively be a “regular” at every restaurant you step foot in, whether it’s around the corner from your house or on the opposite coast? That’s what BoH restaurant tech SevenRooms is trying to make a reality. The company lets restaurants track customer data to access guest information for more personalized service.
SevenRooms has its eye squarely on the future of dining, which is why we’re so excited to have its CEO, Joel Montaniel, speak at Customize at the end of this month. As a little amuse bouche we asked Montaniel a few questions about how he thinks the rise of personalization will change the way we eat out. Hint: Get ready for servers to remember your dietary restrictions, birthday, and favorite dessert.
Check out the Q&A below, then grab your tickets (discount code SPOON15 for 15 percent off!) to hear him speak in person on February 27th.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about what SevenRooms does.
From neighborhood restaurants to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is a hospitality platform that helps operators unlock the full revenue potential of guest data. Combining operations, marketing and guest engagement tools into one front-of-house solution, the platform helps operators to maximize profits, build brand loyalty and enable personalized guest experiences.
As restaurants become more automated, how do you think foodservice can maintain a personalized touch to keep customer loyalty?
In a recent study, SevenRooms found that 1 in 5 diners (20 percent) want to book a reservation at a restaurant that could create a personalized menu for them – clearly showcasing that the foodservice industry must take advantage of automated personalization to help deliver these expectations and build loyalty.
At SevenRooms, we see the operations arm of restaurants continuously becoming more intertwined as technology is integrated, making processes more seamless as the power of guest data is unleashed. Through direct integrations with POS systems and other technology partners, we can create complete guest profiles including dining preferences, allergies, order history and more. The restaurant industry is centered on human interaction; and by helping restaurants use technology to understand who their guest is and what they want, we can empower operators to have the most personalized customer interactions possible.
In addition to enabling these seamless, memorable experiences, technology can also help personalize guest marketing to draw them back in. Robust historical data helps restaurants more accurately market to diners, ensuring they’re able to reach the right guests, at the right time, with the right message. For example, if a diner has never ordered wine at a restaurant, it likely wouldn’t make sense to invite them to an exclusive vineyard tasting event.
Embracing technology provides restaurants with the ability to elevate experiences by creating and promoting specific events and perks that speak to their guests’ interests, solely by tapping into data collected across the guest journey.
Why do you think that the personalization trend has been on the rise lately? What about this particular time has given it opportunity to grow?
With the advancement of technology, consumers now expect more from their daily interactions, whether it’s suggested shoes for purchase on Amazon, songs to listen to on Spotify or shows to watch on Netflix. Hospitality is no different. According to recent research, when staying at a hotel with multiple properties, 29 percent of Americans expect their preferences and guest profile to be easily communicated between properties.
This clearly showcases that in the hospitality industry, it’s paramount to personalize the guest experience, exceeding expectations and ensuring the guest feels special in the process. For example, when a regular who happens to be vegetarian is seated, the waiter should have the new vegetarian pasta special on hand to recommend with the diner’s favorite white wine. If it’s a guest’s birthday, a complimentary glass of champagne can really go the extra mile to turn a casual dinner into a loyal guest.
From hotels to restaurants and nightlife venues, guests appreciate and desire personalization, especially at places they’ve visited before, with over half of Americans saying that a waiter/waitress simply remembering them from a previous visit would make their experience more memorable. The data, now available through technology, has afforded venues the opportunity to create these personalized experiences and fine tune their service based on customer preferences, in turn giving the trend more room to grow.
How do you see personalization evolving with shifting restaurant setups, new technology, and an increased consumer demand on convenience?
We’ve seen significant disruption in the restaurant industry in the last few years — especially when it comes to increased delivery options and a rise in consumer expectations both inside and outside the restaurant. Convenience is king — and consumers want faster, more seamless choices. But as consumers increasingly demand this convenience, we are also seeing them expect much more personalization out of their experiences when they choose to dine-in a restaurant.
A quarter of Americans admit they wouldn’t return to a restaurant if their dining experience wasn’t memorable or special, so restaurants must continue to evolve how they deliver personalized experiences.
The future of this will come with new voice and wearable technology. Today, operators use tablet and computer interfaces to access guest information — from reservation times, to whether or not they’re celebrating a special occasion or an allergy. However, by harnessing new voice technology, SevenRooms users will, instead, be able to voice queries like “Alexa, who’s at Table 12?” to find out robust data on the guest — learning that it’s a birthday party for a regular diner whose favorite dessert is the vegan chocolate mousse.
This enables the in-service team to create a new guest touchpoint that will boost loyalty — having the GM touch the table to deliver birthday wishes, and offering a complimentary dessert — all without having to visit the host stand to find out the information. This seamless personalization experience will only continue to grow as the status quo for guests across the hospitality industry.