Take time to consider tech

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Consumers’ technology expectations higher than ever

A growing number of customers expect the option of contactless payment via card or phone
A growing number of customers expect the option of contactless payment via card or phone

WHEN it comes to the operations side of a business, it’s fair to say that the start of the year can be a good time to review the processes that keep bars, restaurants and hotels running smoothly – and to make any improvements.

And chief amongst those considerations should be the latest technology, providers told SLTN.

James Humble of EPOS (electronic point of sale) firm Tevalis said the role of technology in hospitality businesses – and the resulting benefits it can bring – has “definitely shifted and evolved over the years”, meaning it is “critical” for operators to review their systems and ensure the technology being utilised has the “adaptability and flexibility to meet their business’s requirements for the long haul”.

Greater integration, for instance, has already delivered benefits to many businesses, according to Humble.

“With an EPOS system and a booking system integration in place, operators no longer have to worry about managing two separate platforms,” he said.

Technology has definitely shifted and evolved over the years across the entire hospitality industry.

“Instead, they’re connected in their entirety, with maximum functionality available all from the point of sale.”

Scott Grant, divisional manager at Casio, echoed this view – adding that EPOS systems “can also be integrated with solutions such as card payment, loyalty card schemes, cellar monitoring systems and back office management tools”.

The trade can also take advantage of advances in mobile ordering, reckons Grant, who said mobile systems allow staff to “spend more time with your customers by taking their orders directly at their table”, which can allow waiting staff “to up-sell drinks and food, as well as tailor prompts for specific menu choices”.

Technological advancements extend to the kitchen too.

The ‘connected kitchen’ offers operators a raft of benefits, according to Paul Crowley of Winterhalter UK.

He explained that equipment, such as warewashers, can be connected to the internet and remotely monitored via a smartphone app.

“Operators can self-monitor, which allows site or regional managers a huge amount of control,” he said.

“The technology will warn you when the fundamentals of the machine are not operating properly, for example, when there is no water or chemicals, or perhaps a wash arm is blocked.

“The technology can optimise operations and show where doors are opened too early, when machines are being switched on unnecessarily before the first wash, or if the machine’s self-cleaning program is not being used.”

Advances in tech can also help operators better train kitchen staff, reckons Simon Lohse of Rational UK.

Lohse said there are apps which are “smartphone-friendly and can be used in the kitchen, enabling staff to find out how to cook a recipe or tackle day-to-day cleaning or maintenance tasks instantly”.

Pub entertainment is changing, too.

Customers are becoming increasingly cash-free, preferring to pay with contactless or phones.

Adam Castleton of background music firm Startle said a venue’s soundtrack can now be tailored “specifically around a brand, developing a unique identity based on the venue itself, the behaviour it wants to elicit, and more”.

And in terms of gaming, there is a move from analogue to digital, according to Alison Lambie, director of Sims Automatics.

“The digital gaming machine has been steadily replacing the analogue, traditional ‘reel-spinning’ version in many pubs over the last few years,” she said.

“But whilst players have got used to the digitised version of gaming, payment in the ‘contactless’ age we are all living in could still be a way off.

“Some operators are trialing systems that could be used in pubs to allow customers to use cards.

“Customers are becoming increasingly cash-free and cash-light, preferring to pay with contactless or through their phones.

“The move to card payment in whatever form not only helps the customer, it unlocks the technological ability to monitor, anonymously, play and make socially responsible interventions when needed.”