“Fluid” wouldn’t begin to describe the current circumstances facing hotel foodservice operations.
The recent rebound of consumer travel paired with staffing shortages and supply chain woes have required properties to reimagine their on-premise food and beverage offering. To improve both operations and guest experience, many hotels have deepened their focus (and investment) around technology, from property-wide contactless payments to chatbots and voice searches that handle front desk requests.
There is one particular hotel technology, however, that both pre-dates the pandemic and skyrocketed in adoption among consumers in the past year: mobile food ordering. Today’s guests expect the ability to order food and drink from their own personal devices with ease, without having to get up or wait on a server. Hotels should see their guests’ mobile devices as pocket-sized points of sale, enabling customers to satisfy their cravings for instant gratification in a way that boosts hotel revenue.
Given the new cashless and contactless expectations of consumers, the necessity for mobile ordering in the hotel guest experience is more apparent than ever. Hotel operators must be proactive now to best position their properties to achieve success — and avoid playing catch-up — in the months to come. With what’s ahead for hotel operators, mobile ordering is an offering that properties simply cannot afford to pass up. So, why is this the case?
Occupancy rates are increasing
Recent research by Destination Analysts shows that 33% of Americans are planning even more leisure trips next year, than in 2021. The same percentage of consumers are also open to spending more on one trip, if it means receiving a better-than-standard experience — whether “better” refers to “faster,” “more convenient,” “safer,” or all of the above.
Long wait times at hotel restaurants during peak service hours, like lunch and dinner, can dissuade guests from on-property dining. Hotels must be proactive, not reactive, in alleviating such friction points that hinder foodservice revenue and decrease guest satisfaction.
Speeding up the food ordering and payment process with mobile ordering can make a substantial impact for hotel restaurants. When a party is seated at a table, they can scan a tabletop QR code to start an order without waiting for a server. Payments are received immediately, and the order status is displayed in real time on their phone.
Furthermore, if a party is deciding where they should eat (outlet A versus outlet B, and whether they should dine-in or pick up), they can view approximately how long it will take for their food to be ready, no matter where they are on-property, by means of automated order ETAs. That alone grants guests extra time to enjoy whatever amenities they wish to, instead of waiting eagerly for their food.
Providing guests with relevant information allows them to better map out their day, which is particularly valuable for hotels to ensure their guests have the optimal dining experience.
Hotel labor remains a variable
In 2021 mobile ordering has already proved instrumental in helping hotels overcome a complex labor equation. With a mobile dining offering, hotels can free up front of house staff from ordering-taking roles, enabling them to attend to other pressing guest needs. Both hotels and restaurants have seen that a “scan, order & pay” model for dine-in can reduce the staffing requirement by up to 75%, minimizing the need for additional servers.
In deploying mobile ordering across five ski resort properties, Pacific Group Resorts is now able to operate their food outlets with greater efficiency and less front of house staff this season, than pre-pandemic:
“Now, we don’t need as many staff members taking orders,” said Mark Fischer, CFO of Pacific Group Resorts. “[With mobile ordering], our guests can order food at their own pace.”
Before mobile ordering, lunch crowds were a major challenge for Pacific Group’s properties. Now, guests can schedule orders from their device, no matter where they are on the property. By shifting the focus away from walk-up orders, Pacific Group can now allocate more staff to order fulfillment, meaning orders placed through mobile devices are completed quicker and that customers don’t have to wait as long.
Guests’ preferred communication channels have evolved
Answering the question, which guest communications drive us the most food orders from our on-property restaurants, is integral to the future of hotel marketing. Attribution is key.
To make data-driven decisions from guest behavioral insights, properties should leverage digital channels to deliver relevant, timely communications straight to the guests’ phones. SMS messaging can be particularly valuable in driving business impact through food, retail and other core hotel offerings.
With mobile ordering, hotels can use SMS messaging to sequence out times in the day when customers may be most inclined to purchase. Most guests would agree, it’s easier to tap a link than dial up the front desk for a room service or flag down a server.
Here is an example of how a hotel may sequence out their automated text messages, following a guest’s check-in at their hotel:
Text-based marketing presents major opportunities for hotels to generate more orders through mobile. Foodservice teams should work with a property’s marketing team to craft a strategy around the mobile ordering offering that can help drive orders and revenue, at desired times or points in a guest’s stay.
So, what mobile ordering models can best support hotels?
The possibilities that arise with hotel mobile ordering are plentiful. For any one operation, getting to the exact answer begins on a hotel’s situation, such as seasonality around bookings, the scope of their on-premise food service offerings, and their specific goals with the service.
Among hotel and resort mobile ordering, there are a few basic models to consider:
- In-room dining: This is the simplest model to visualize. Guests scan an in-room QR code with their personal device to place orders and pay for room service.
- Table side service: Attractive to existing table service model operations, table-top QR codes allow guests to scan and order whenever they’re ready, without waiting on a server to come by.
- Restaurant pickup: Perfect for your to-go pizza outlets or coffee shops. This model allows guests to order food ahead and skip the line.
- Poolside and beach chair delivery: This is a great amenity for guests seated in lounge chairs and cabanas, with bonus operational perks. Guests no longer need to flag down servers, and can send requests directly to staff situated in a kitchen area throughout the day.
Gauging the real business impact of any single hotel technology often relies on two variables: 1) time, such as mindfulness around seasonality, and 2) the right metrics, such as its adoption rate, revenue generation, and guest satisfaction.
Once rolling, mobile ordering can be one of the most valuable additions to your property’s restaurant and bar offerings. Getting started with any technology requires having a great partner, and that’s exactly what our guarantee is at FanFood.
If you’ve been considering mobile ordering for your property, now is the time to get in touch with our team. We would love to chat and see how we can support your goals for 2022!