The case for implementing Order & Pay in hotels
An order & pay system is a digital menu which can be accessed using a QR code or a URL and allows customers to make orders from their devices.
You might be more familiar with the use of order & pay systems in pubs and bars. This article will make the case for order & pay systems as room service – and in paid accommodation settings more generally.
As we’ve learnt more about the results of setting up order & pay systems, we’ve found that they can lead to increased orders, improved customer experiences, and turn new spaces into economic ones.
We think order and pay systems can be used effectively in a wide variety of scenarios, such as room service, hotels bars and restaurants, or outside spaces. We also explain what you need to look out for to choose the best system for you.
StoreKit Order & Pay may be the best choice for you, but you can also find our list of top table ordering apps here. Check out our page on epos for hotels if you’re looking for an overview of the relevant point of sale.
Why use order & pay systems for room service?
Making guests call to order room service is a terrible idea
The days of calling up your local takeaway have been pushed aside by ordering apps like Deliveroo or Uber Eats. When ordering food and drinks, the phone receiver has been replaced by its screen. Calling to order food and drinks no longer has a place in a digitalised world – and that’s coming for room service, like it came for takeaway.
There are reasons for this. 55% of Brits prefer texting over calling. This figure is 72% for people under 40 – people don’t like talking over the phone. It’s also a more practical and efficient information exchange. Over the phone, you’re at the mercy of hearing – “number 13, that’s one-three, no, not 30” – and if the order entry system isn’t available, handwriting. Digital ordering reduces such mistakes.
Finally, this assumes staff are even able to pick up the phone – if the front desk is busy dealing with other guests, a guest may need to call more than once to order. But the moment has probably passed – the order is lost forever. This is more than annoying: it’s bad for business.
Upgrade room service into an experience
For most people, staying at a hotel is an experience. It’s not something you do every day, and digital menus can help to make it even more special.
Here’s how – it’s easy to imagine hotel guests scrolling through a menu on their phone. The images on the menu all look so inviting. They’re lying on a silky hotel bed, with its soft pillows and perfectly smooth sheets, and window-shopping your menu is effortless. Life is good. Why not make it even better – maybe with some champagne? “Oh, why not?” – press order, and voilà, a bottle arrives minutes later.
The crucial fact is not that they enjoyed the menu, although that helps. Rather, the fact that it’s so easy to order communicates something: you’re meant to do it. Room service is in decline, and has dropped by as much as 80% in some hotels over the last decade. It’s old-fashioned – perhaps because it feels very decadent.
But in restaurants, digital menu systems have driven up order size because of sides and add-ons driving up total size. And also, because large orders are linked to shame – which, with the ostentatious decadence of ordering to a hotel room, is an outsized factor. People just feel less “seen” with digital ordering.
Some digital menus are better than others though. Don’t ask guests to download apps or create accounts. Guests will be willing to scan a QR code, but they aren’t going to want to download an app that will only take up phone space. Digital menus turn casual scrolling into orders, but you don’t want to stop guests from getting to the menu in the first place. Most guests will log onto the Wi-Fi, so you could also automatically redirect them to a homepage with the menu. That way, you aren’t getting in the way of guests looking at the menu and ordering.
Why use order & pay systems for sun loungers?
Keep sunbathers sunbathing
Order & pay systems can be used outside of room service as well. For example, poolside sunbathers.
In a non-digital world, sunbathers would need to haul themselves out of their chairs, find a bar, and maybe queue to get a drink. When guests can’t reserve seats, they may not want to leave their seats for fear of losing them to other guests, so they may end up not going to the bar. Alternatively, there may be waiters – but it can be annoying to have to flag a waiter down twice to ask for a menu and then to order. This can stop sunbathers from relaxing and ordering.
Why use order & pay systems for outside spaces?
Expand economic spaces
Order & pay systems can work for accommodation venues of any size – hotels, inns, B&Bs, or cruises – but they can have extra benefits for bigger sites. If your hotel has large spaces like terrace areas or green spaces, it might not be practical to place a human waiter in every part. But a digital menu will let you provide your guests with refreshments wherever they are.
Order & pay systems can transform extra spaces into economic spaces. Customers won’t have to leave their seats to find a bar and queue – they can relax, knowing their drinks will be brought to them. It makes looking after guests much easier when staff can’t be around all the time and lets you increase guest spending.
Why use order & pay systems for your hotel bar or restaurant?
You can use order & pay systems in your hotel bar or restaurant as well.
For bars, order & pay systems can get rid of queues. Not having to queue can improve a guest’s experience, and it can also stop them from turning away.
In both bars and restaurants, ordering from staff can cause pressure. Instead, choosing orders in a digital menu can take pressure away from guests, and it can help them decide what they want at their own pace. This also means waiters no longer need to take orders or payments, freeing them up to focus on being hospitable. They can check in on how guests are finding their food or recommend drinks and dishes. Order & pay systems can elevate a guest’s experience at a hotel bar or restaurant.
Why use order & pay systems for cruise ships?
The ideas that we’ve talked about so far also apply to cruise ships. Like their landlocked cousins, in cruise ships, order & pay systems can replace traditional room service and make ordering outside of the room easier.
Keep menus updated and exciting
A big difference between cruises and hotels is the length of stay. Guests stay on cruises much longer than they stay at hotels. Dishes change daily, and updating a digital menu is much easier than transporting masses of paper menus. Menus also wouldn’t need to be handed out, saving staff labour. Menus on phones are also much more accessible.
But practicalities aside, meals and drinks are an important part of cruises, and a digital menu can help keep guests excited about them across longer stays.
Compared to paper menus, digital menus can feature images without being seen as tacky. High-quality pictures can be enticing and can keep guests enthusiastic about the offerings. For instance, an image of a cool sweating glass cradling a vibrantly coloured cocktail may be just what a guest needs to push order.
A customisable order & pay system will also let you easily tailor your digital menu to various events such as themed nights or happy hours. Keeping the menus changing, interesting, and easily accessible can encourage spending. Make sure you can adjust the menu’s colour scheme and that you can add and update descriptions.
Save labour – and focus on your guests
Whether you’re a small inn or B&B, a hotel, or a cruise ship, an order & pay system can benefit both guests and the business.
Order & pay systems help to save staff labour. Receptionists wouldn’t need to take room service orders, and waiting staff wouldn’t need to take orders from sunbathers. It also prevents manual errors in inputting orders into a system.
In smaller inns and bed and breakfasts, this could mean one less thing for staff to worry about. In larger hotels, you might choose to hire fewer staff members anew. Or the time previously spent taking calls, orders, and payments can be used to elevate the guests’ experience instead. Reception staff can focus more on in-person interactions with guests without a phone ringing constantly. Waiters can check whether guests are enjoying their meals.
An order & pay system paves the way for hospitality to truly become the focus of your business.
Choosing the best order & pay system for your hotel, inn, or B&B
The easier to use the better
In general, guests will choose the easiest way of ordering, so pick a system that is quick and simple to use. Otherwise, they may end up not using your digital menu at all.
This should rule apps and account creations out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking these will help to foster loyalty, but most customers won’t want to download an app or sign up. StoreKit Order & Pay, for instance, requires neither. Customers only need to scan a QR code – it’s quick and easy to use. But as a “progressive web app”, it also keeps the best features of an app, such as push notifications when an order is ready.
Let the digital menu add to the experience
An order & pay system should be easy to use. But a hotel visit is an experience – and usually an expensive one at that – so the digital menu should be a part of taking a guest’s stay from good to amazing.
Aside from being simple to use, a digital menu should also be expressive of your hotel. Select an order & pay system that has a customisable digital menu. For instance, you should be able to add descriptions and images to accurately communicate what food and drinks you offer. StoreKit’s Order & Pay also has a “dark mode” for nighttime venues. You can use this to make a “classy” design that might be more suitable, depending on your hotel’s atmosphere.
Make sure you can integrate
Here at StoreKit, we believe in a “best of breed” approach. We think you should pick and choose software for the different parts of your business in a way that works best for you. Make sure that the system you choose can integrate with other aspects of the business. Your order & pay system should communicate and work together with your EPOS, inventory, and accounting, for instance, so that your business runs smoothly. That way, you can spend more time on what really matters: your guests.
Luckily, you can integrate StoreKit Order & Pay with over 30 EPOS systems, which can in turn link to your PMS – take a look.