Hospitality should embrace digital

Technology such as EPOS, online reservations and inventory systems are the future for the trade, writes Carl Reader

Digital systems can help improve multiple facets of a business

SCOTLAND’S hospitality businesses are said to be booming – a recent PWC report found that Glasgow’s hotel sector is growing at eight times the UK average.

The sector has withstood rising prices and relatively stagnant consumer spending.

Yet to ensure Scotland’s hospitality industry continues to thrive, it is vital that businesses in the sector embrace digital and the benefits it can bring.

Digitisation allows hotels, restaurants and pubs to make intelligent decisions about what to serve customers, how to manage stock, and identify issues such as which dishes are selling, and which aren’t.

New technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning sound exciting, and they are revolutionising the way ordinary businesses across the world work.

Here are my top tips for restaurants, pubs and hotels to embrace the future of the hospitality industry using digital.

Update your paper-based systems

From my experience, restaurants and pubs in particular tend solely to work with paper receipts, which can easily be lost or destroyed in such a busy environment.

However, you can now automate some of the more repetitive processes, such as payments, through the implementation of electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems.

Installing an EPOS system can significantly improve a business’s efficiency, allowing employees to serve more customers.

The automation of payment processes can also be used to gather customer data to provide enhanced services to valued customers.

Automating reservations is a win-win

The booking process has  been revolutionised since the dawn of comparison sites, and as competition in the sector grows it is more necessary to invest in software to allow guests to book easily online.

Incorporating automation in bookings can improve accuracy and reduce human error in reservations, as well as enhancing privacy protection.

Additionally, companies are able to understand customer preferences and confirm what is working and profitable for the business.

And, perhaps more importantly, where in the business there is a need to improve.

Back-office operations are just as important as customer-facing systems

There are some great options for digital inventory systems out there – and once they are in place you will never look back. You can get software that uses artificial intelligence to learn your customers’ buying patterns and help you predict what and when to order more stock.

Make sure you are compliant with government’s digital updates

Staying up to date with government changes is vital for businesses to avoid a slap on the wrist or even a fine for non-compliance.

Timelines for implementation of these changes can often be short, so it’s important to plan ahead.

Embracing the hospitality industry’s digital future

New tech can help impress discerning customers, whilst streamlining operations.

One example is hotels are now offering ‘digital keys’, which allow guests to open their room door using their mobile phone, skipping the check-in queue and reducing chances of losing keys.

Innovations like this can also have benefits for business owners, reducing costs of lost room keys and improving efficiency. With fewer staff having to deal with check-in, they are freed up to provide better customer service for guests.

Over time, streamlining and automating processes through software can transform a business by freeing up time spent on repetitive admin tasks, allowing businesses to be run more efficiently.

Those Scottish businesses which adapt are set to reap the rewards – and will continue to grow and prosper.

• Carl Reader is chairman of business advisory firm D&T.