What software should you be using with your venue?

Digitise your venue for the best experiences – and here's the software you should be using.

Digitalisation for hospitality venues, although accelerated by the pandemic, is hardly a temporary fix or a gimmick. Digitalisation has always driven growth; pre-pandemic, restaurants that actively used digital to push growth saw 5% annual growth on average over a five-year period, whilst those using it only as a defensive measure saw 2% annual growth, according to a BCG study.

What the pandemic has changed, however, is guest expectations surrounding hospitality venues. Guests expect hospitality venues to be embracing digitalisation to enhance their experience. Going are the cushy days of guests being willing to call to book a table – now, not being able to book online may mean not visiting a venue at all.


Keep reading to find out how going digital can boost your guest experience – and what technology you’ll need to achieve this.

Finding your venue

  • Google

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • YouTube

  • Tiktok

  • Opentable

  • Tripadvisor

  • Yelp

  • DUSK


Your guests will find you online via the following:

  • An SEO-optimised website (e.g. a website that is set up in a way that it appears when someone searches ‘Italian restaurant in Soho’)

  • Social media – whether that be via organic appearances, paid ads, or influencer marketing

  • Online review platforms

Make it easy for your potential guests to find you via any channel; make your website and review site listings easy to find with target keywords.

Learning more about your venue

  • Wordpress

  • Wix

  • Google My Business

  • Tripadvisor

  • Opentable

Once your potential guests have found you online, don’t get in the way of them learning more about you. Make sure your website is easy to navigate; it should be mobile-friendly. Across all platforms, your food and drink menus should be easy to find, and any images should be attractive and high-quality – but avoid uploading images that slow down your website’s loading speed.


Booking

  • Opentable

  • Sevenrooms

  • ResDiary

  • Resy

Generally speaking, there are two types of online booking platforms: third-party and direct. Third-party booking platforms (like OpenTable) make discovering your venue easier for new guests, but they also have the downside of pitting your venue against other similar venues. They also tend to be the more expensive option, so channelling loyal customers to direct booking platforms can be the cheaper choice for you. Using direct booking platforms also tends to give you access to more customer data that you can use for marketing.  

We would recommend using a combination of both platform types: use third-party platforms to attract new guests, but encourage repeat visitors to book directly via links in your website or social media.


Getting in touch pre-arrival

  • SMS

  • Mailchimp

Reminder texts and emails reduce no-show rates – and they’re also a stress-free way for guests to be sure your venue is ready to welcome them.


In-venue experience

Long-winded ordering and paying processes can dampen the excitement of eating or drinking out. Mobile ordering lets guests order and pay at their own pace and without having to catch a busy server’s attention. This also means your team can focus on the craft of hospitality – like preparing food and drinks, welcoming and chatting to guests, and recommending dishes  – instead of the administrative (and boring) parts of the role.

But not all mobile ordering menus are made equal. Platforms that force your guests to download an app or create an account demand too much attention and so detract from the experience of your venue, to the extent that they can put guests off visiting your venue at all. Avoid high-friction choices in favour of options that actually make ordering and paying easier; think QR code menus like storekit, where guests can simply scan a QR code and navigate your menu on a browser instead.

Apps like DUSK can also boost the customer experience by rewarding your customers when they visit venues. 


Post-visit

  • Airship

  • Stampede

  • Mailchimp

After your guests leave your venue, the cycle starts again. Hospitality marketing tools like Airship and Stampede make it easier to keep guests engaged by automating personalised messages and offers via emails and SMS. With repeat customers spending 67% morethan new ones in small businesses, investing in bringing guests back just makes sense.


Do I really need this software?

In an industry with already-tight margins, operators often worry about the cost of implementing tech solutions. But if, for instance, your hospitality marketing tool boosts repeat visits by 5% every month, that could add up to thousands of extra pounds, easily outweighing the costs. In addition, automating processes means team members can be freed up to perform other tasks instead – that could mean each server can look after more tables at once.

Another common concern we encounter is that hospitality is a ‘people’ business, and that digitalisation occurs at the expense of this. But tech solutions (or at least, good ones) only take the administrative or high-friction parts of the guest experience online to make them easier, so the focus is on achieving the best venue visit possible. For your business, that means removing obstacles that stop guests spending; for instance, if potential guests are unable to reach you on the phone to book a table, they may end up putting off their visit.

There’s also a whole host of back-end hospitality software that can help you run your restaurant – check out our guide to restaurant management software for advice on choosing the right tech stack for your venue.

Whatever tech you choose, make sure they integrate with each other. If you’re looking for a mobile ordering system, storekit has 100+ integrations, so get in touch at venues@storekit.com

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