Apps And The Hospitality Industry

May 10, 2013

In the UK and particularly the UK Hospitality Industry we are very slow to adopt technology in business.

WHY!

Wherever we go now we see our potential customers using their phone, tablet or laptop to conduct their business and personal life. Recent statistics tell us that mobile web traffic rose by 403% in first 9 months of 2012, 87% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and mobile broadband subscriptions have grown annually by 45% since 2007. Our customers are all spending more time on their smart phones doing mobile banking, shopping and socialising. People are looking for and demanding easy accessibility.

The retail industry are all encouraging us to click and collect so lets join in and reap the benefits that an app can give our businesses, such as:

  • Reducing wastage
  • Improved advanced knowledge on sales
  • Opportunity to promote other areas of business
  • Growing a database
  • Target marketing for offers
  • Happy customers
  • Income through complementary advertising
  • Knowledge of customers spending patterns

Businesses in the hospitality industry that are utilising app technology are seeing significant benefits, for instance Dominoes are seeing sales of over £1m per year via mobile and with suggestive selling are seeing average spend increases of 18%.

The App can link with social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google+ and Four Square to further promote your business.

Unlike most Apps the App system I work with allows access to the control panel for its users. This access enables menus to be updated, features can be added or removed, offers and daily deals can be promoted all whenever the business wishes to do so. It is also allows direct access to the database so it can be utilised for marketing purposes and exclusive offers together with providing information on your customers buying patterns. This App system is also totally bespoke and uniquely branded to your business. We also work and listen to all our clients to constantly develop the App for the benefit of all.

This app is appropriate for use across all aspects of the hospitality industry  from ordering your lunch at work, booking and pre-ordering in a restaurant or pub, pre-ordering food and drink for an event, ordering room service in a hotel and also for take-aways on the high street.

Imagine being a football supporter and from your seat or before you arrive at the stadium being able to order your half time food and drink. Then either have it delivered to your seat or collect from a central point

  •  No Queuing
  •  Hassle Free
  • Increase Spends
  • Invaluable Customer Information
  • Target Marketing
  • Create a loyalty scheme without the need for customers to carry around a loyalty card
  • Reduction in cash handling with in App secure payment
  • All monies go direct to your account

The same benefits apply if you operate a staff catering facility and you make your menu available on their smartphones 24/7. It allows them to create their sandwich from your deli options at a time to suit them and then at lunchtime avoid the queuing, imagine how they will feel able to do more with their lunchtime. Also if you are in the pub and restaurant sector allowing your customers to view the menu on their smartphone, even pre-order and if desired pre-pay the benefits are enormous to you. We are also a very favorable option over the bigger app operators if you operate a take away as we ensure the money goes direct to your account and set up and order rates are very competitive.

With all of this why do you not allow your customers to carry your venue and menus around in their pocket all day. Your standard website is not optimised for viewing on the small screen of a mobile phone or tablet but your Web 2.0 site will look great on a small screen and means that you are accessible to anyone with mobile internet. People will be able to view your menu, book a table and order food in advance and all this information can be sent direct to your printer, fax, computer or as a text. Also we can enable online and in-app payment direct to you.

The information that can be provided from this software will tell you how people are using your app and therefore produce more successful target marketing and launch promotions for quiet periods. It comes complete with Google Maps so customers can easily find you. It will also link with all your social media to further inform your customers and build up loyalty by offering vouchers and special offers.

If you would like to be sent a demo app for you to visualise the benefits and explore how it will appeal to your customers contact me or visit the app page on the web site http://www.guineasassociates.com/services_mobile-apps.html

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POUR YOUR OWN PINT

December 10, 2012

Imagine going into a pub, to an event, stadium or racecourse and being able to pour your own pint. Technology is everywhere controlling our World and now it will allow you to pour your own pint.

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THE FOUR KEG WALL

Pour your own Pint –The system that allows your customer to pour their own draught beer, either from a table, beer wall or mobile unit.

The ideal solution for volume businesses and customers pay for every drop of beer.

This system, new to the market can be fixed or mobile. The fixed solution is for new builds or refurbishments as beer lines need to be run to the table. The mobile is ideal for events, stadia or any volume occasion. The mobile unit holds 2 kegs and gas. The beer wall holds four kegs and gas and will therefore service more people, ideal for volume occasions like stadiums. The system works wirelessly and staff are totally in control from behind the bar or a central point. The customer purchases an i-button from the bar or cash point and this allows them to pour beer to value on the i-button. The system has a number of advantages including:

  • Instantly increases profitability as customer pays for every drop of beer dispensed
  • It saves time and allows staff to focus on other areas
  • It has proven success in where it has been installed with customers booking beer tables in advance when there is a major event
  • The screen on beer pump allows customer to order other drinks and food directly from table
  • Mobile units provide a solution to volume environments or in temporary situations such as marquees.

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A TABLE TOP UNIT COMPLETE WITH TABLET

The draught beer unit above shows the beer taps complete with tablet which can be used for ordering food, alternative drinks and would connect to the tills so the orders can be bought to the table. The tablet can also be used for advertising to improve the pay back or advertise future events and menu items.

This technology has use throughout the hospitality industry and has tremendous appeal to the customer. Imagine being able to book your own beer table in your pub to watch a major event on the big screen or going to that major event and not having to queue for a pint.

The capital outlay is offset by a number of factors including it allows you to serve more beer, there is no waste and you can sell advertising space on the tablet.

If this is of interest please contact me for further details


TABLET TECHNOLOGY IN THE UK HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

July 18, 2012

The use of tablet technology in the hospitality industry has not fully reached the UK shores, but it is approaching fast. The use of tablets in restaurant and hotels to replace paper menus and guest information books plus a variety of other procedures has got the hospitality industry in the USA in a spin. The use of this technology is being embraced by family restaurants, sporting venues, leisure facilities and major hotels across this continent as the realisation of the benefits of interacting with guests is recognised. It is a topic of hot debate as to if the industry, previously geared around personal service, is ready to accept this technology and the supporters of its implementation are winning the day. It is already becoming the talk of holidaymakers as they return to the UK from the USA, so the storm is being whipped up and is on its way, so why not take the opportunity to see how it might help your business. Tablet technology is not for all establishments but it certainly has its place in family restaurants, pub chains, large hotels, sporting stadiums, bowling alleys, casinos, theme parks and holiday parks. Let’s just look at some of its uses.

Replacing Menus

We have all faced the issue of trying to make dishes sound appealing with words and making sure our menus are not stained or dog eared. The cost of replacement menus when we increase the selling prices is significant and how do we remove items from the menu that are not selling without incurring costs also how do we price menu items with fluctuating seasonal prices. The tablet has all these answers and more. Imagine being shown to a table where there is a screen showing photographs of every dish on the menu, no requirement for descriptive words, people eat with their eyes. What a WOW factor this creates. The prices and dishes on the menu can be changed when you want, if you have sold out it can be removed, if the cost price changes significantly you can amend your selling price. The tablet can detail the composition of every dish on the menu to alleviate the issue of guests asking waiting staff what the dish contains and with the increase in food allergies, this information is essential. The guests when ordering can even send the chef a message please can we have the dish without…. In addition to all of this imagine the benefits of guests being prompted to order additional items and wines and drinks recommended with the food. Also guests do not have to wait for a waiter to order dessert or additional drinks and request/pay the bill the tablet will deal with all of this and you have the additional sales. In the USA restaurants have been reporting between 10 and 30% increases in average spend. Your staff can focus on delivering customer service and if guests do require a waiter’s attention it can be requested via the tablet. The tablet also allows you to receive immediate guest feedback and the technology allows immediate postings to Trip Advisor and social media sites, what a marketing opportunity. From a management prospective the technology reduces the risks of missed billing, constantly logs the inventory of products, provides valuable information on guests dining habits and keeps managers in permanent contact with their business. The tablet can also include limited internet access and a games console.

Guest Information Books

In our hotel bed rooms how do we provide information to our guests on all the facilities in the hotel and the local area, in the main we provide a paper book, which suffers the same down falls as the menu. Tablet technology in all the bedrooms can resolve all of this, providing up to date information and much more. The tablet can store all the information about the hotel facilities and local visitor attractions, you can even sell advertising space to further promote these attractions and improve your return on investment, it also allows guests direct access to all the hotel departments and vice-versa so guests can book a spa treatment, order additional pillows order food and drink and the spa can message every room to say they have just had a cancellation or the concierge can message to say that he has just got availability of theatre tickets. The opportunities are endless to promote your business. The advantages of retailing food and drink are replicated from the restaurant in the room service menu on the tablet and the hotel has the same information on guest’s preferences as in the restaurant. In the USA hotels are providing tablets in all guest rooms to provide a more interactive experience and in addition to all of the above allowing them to download music, check on flight/traffic information and weather forecasts.

In addition to the above uses, hotels in the USA are utilising the technology to improve guests check in, replace room keys and as remote controls for TVs and air conditioning.

All of this technology works wirelessly and is easy to install with no additional wiring and allowing the guest to be in control and significantly enhancing their experience with more efficient, faster and effective service.

In the UK and Ireland I am helping to bring Panasonic and Crave technology to the hospitality market. If you would like a no obligation demonstration on how this technology can improve your business please contact me at davidholt@guineasassociates.com.


THE UK HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND HEALTHY EATING

July 5, 2012

THE UK HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AND HEALTHY EATING

As a nation we struggle to eat healthy and take sufficient exercise to burn off the calories we consume, we put the blame on our busy lifestyles and eating on the run. This is where the hospitality industry as a whole can play its part.

 The UK hospitality industry has to play its part in improving the nation’s health. The industry in various guises provides in excess of 8 billion meals a year, including food eaten in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, work place, leisure facilities, hospitals, schools and armed forces.

In recent years survey results show that as a nation we are making improvements in our diets, but like the school report we can do better, we are now on average eating 4.5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Therefore the power of communication is getting through, so as a hospitality industry what can we do.

Despite all of the good efforts of recent years people still continue to eat too much and not do sufficient activity and as we consume more calories than we burn off this leads to weight gain. The carrying of excess weight puts us at greater risk of a whole range of serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some cancers.

There are a number of ways of educating people. The UK hospitality industry as a whole needs to help the population make healthier choices by ensuring that through menus, counter and buffet displays it highlights the healthy food and drink choices.

Diners constantly look to food service operators to be innovative in their approach and we have seen demand move to lighter dishes and healthy cuisine utilising locally sourced products. The promoting and producing healthy food can come in a number of ways including:

  •          Promoting the eating of five fruits and vegetables per day
  •          Promoting fresh fish on menus
  •          Promoting stir-fry cooking
  •          Promote starchy foods, particularly whole grain varieties
  •          Reduce the amount of salt in cooking
  •          Removal of artificial trans fats from foods
  •          Reduce saturated fats and sugars in our foods
  •          Provide calorie information on menus and websites
  •          Provide nutritional information on dishes on menus and websites

In schools we can educate our children by utilising tools like the eatwell plate, which clearly demonstrates the proportion of the food types we should consume to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.

As the hospitality industry we can help create the right environment to empower and support people to make informed balanced choices that will help lead to healthier lives. The Department of Health has created the Public Health Responsibility Deal; visit http://responsibilitydeal.dh.gov.uk, for hospitality businesses to make significant contributions to improving public health by helping to create this environment. Business can sign up to the Responsibility Deal to commit to take action to improve public health, information on how to sign up is on the website. As part of this pledge you can communicate to your customers the importance of healthy eating through Change4Life and gain approval for your activities. The Change4Life brand is a popular trusted health brand and can be used to communicate a wider message to your customers, see www.nhs.uk/Change4Life. The Change4Life website provides more information on eating healthier and keeping active.

As an individual in the hospitality industry whatever we can do to help produce healthier living will go to reducing the level of obesity in the UK therefore improving the nation’s health.

If you require assistance in providing and promoting healthier options or providing nutritional information please contact me.

 


HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR EMAIL MARKETING

May 9, 2012

An email marketing campaign requires significant effort and time and for it then not to provide you the expected results can be demoralising. In this blog I want to provide some advice that will prevent you making the mistakes and will reward your efforts.

Email marketing is a key communication tool to all businesses and should be used on a regular basis to drive traffic to your website and through your doors by highlighting future events, special offers and developments within your business.

An email marketing campaign aims to drive traffic to your website or Facebook business page so that customers or potential customers can learn more about your business whether or not they are actively looking for a service like yours. Direct marketing has been used in business for years but the benefits of an email is that it allows you to make a purchase immediately just with a click and the success of the campaign can be measured, so it can be managed.

The process of starting an email campaign begins with the database and the process will be more successful if the recipients already have an affinity with your business, so therefore we should build our own database. This can be developed in a number of ways, including:

  • Offer something complimentary, which requires people to submit their email address to obtain it. This could be a variety of things like business advice, an add onto another purchase or discount voucher
  • Business card draws
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Newspaper editorial with a competition
  • Offering email promotions via websites and social media sites for people who subscribe
  • Producing flyers with offers only redeemable by providing email address
  • Acquiring email addresses when people make a purchase
  • Invite people to join/follow your social media sites
  • Via reservation systems

It is very important to ensure that this database is maintained and constantly added to. Having established the database we now have to consider the content and presentation of the email.

We have to start with the subject title. This needs to be appealing to encourage people to open the email and read on but should not be in capitals, have exclamation marks or contain words such as free, save, discount or £££. Content containing this is classified as spam and your email may not be delivered.

The email will be better far better received if it starts with a personal address, like Hi John, because it creates a relationship by addressing the receiver by their first name.

When considering the content remember that most email providers show a preview of the email in the recipients inbox so ensure that there is a captivating offer at the start of your email. Once you have the content to capture the attention of your audience you need a powerful image to attract the eye. Having retained your reader with your captivating offer and supporting powerful image then you can add any further messages you wish to convey.

With the content we need to ensure that we obtain the right result by getting the reader to click to make the purchase or reservation. Research conducted into this tells us that readers respond better to a plain bold blue text link, like for more information go to as opposed to a large banner or button. If this action directs people to a website ensure that it directs them to the correct page so that do not have to look around the website for what they want, otherwise they will have lost interest. The whole process should be no more than two or three clicks.

At the bottom of the email always provide your readers with the opportunity to unsubscribe from the database.

When you have completed the email thoroughly check it prior to sending for spelling and punctuation. Any errors will have an adverse effect on your business.

Do not bombard your database with constant emails; they should be limited to one or two per month. Also always ensure you are offering something of value and interest to the recipients as having gone to the hard work of capturing their details you do not want to turn them against you.

Let’s summarise the key points to consider, ensuring your email marketing campaign is a success again and again.

  • To avoid getting flagged up as spam avoid words such as free, discount, save, £££ etc in both the subject line and content of your email
  • Do not use capital letters and exclamation marks in the subject line
  • Thoroughly check spelling and punctuation
  • The best days for sending out an email campaign is Tuesday or Wednesday and preferably early afternoon between 2 and 3pm.
  • Ensure that you maintain consistency with your emails to maintain and strengthen your brand. Create an email/news letter template
  • You need a powerful subject line and start to an email. You have about half a second to attract the recipients attention
  • Email providers show a preview of email in the inbox so ensure interesting content at the top of the email
  • Personalising the email is very powerful, so start the email with the recipient’s first name.
  • Research tells us that email recipients will respond to a plain bold blue text link as opposed to a banner or a button
  • Ensure that the email contains an unsubscribe statement

 

 


ENHANCING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

March 27, 2012

In looking at enhancing our customer experience we never have to lose sight of the fact that the customer is King. In today’s very competitive market place it’s those businesses that put themselves out for their customer and also train this philosophy into all their team that succeed, to help your team get on board with this why not offer them an incentive for exceptional customer service. The cost of getting new customers is a big cost to which you also need to allocate time and resource to do this all of which can be better utilised in more effective ways. How do we keep our customers, there are a number of key things we need to consider.

COMMUNICATION

Ensure you maintain regular communication with your customers and the most effective way of doing this is by email. Firstly we need to ensure that we capture all our customers email addresses and then when we email them ensure it is personal to them, you know how you feel when you receive a personalised email. This regular email does not always have to sell them something just keep them informed of what’s happening, so that when they do want to use your service or buy one of your products you are at the forefront of their mind. Also actively encourage customer feedback with a customer comment book, satisfaction surveys and then when you receive useful comments act upon it and let the customer see that you have taken their advice.

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Look at the products and services you offer and build up additional products and services to offer your customers. If you don’t have any products or services further to offer look at companies in a similar market place and set up a joint venture to extend your offer to these existing companies, remember there is more profit from a relationship with an existing customer. Customers always want to know what is in it for them, what benefits can they receive, so look to add perceived value by adding something on, a great example is Sunday newspapers giving away free CDs/DVDs which customers perceive as to having a value of about ten times the value of the paper, but to the paper it is very little cost.

MARKETING

All forms of communication with your customers, be it websites, correspondence, emails, advertising, menus or price lists reflect on your business so regularly take a ruthless look at these and ensure they are portraying the correct image. Ensure in all your marketing material you focus on the benefits to your customers, not the features of the company, tell them how you can add value to them. The majority of our customers are coming to us via the internet so use this and your emarketing effectively, ensuring that you use the opportunities to capture email addresses. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by offering something free. We should all look at turning our businesses into multi level marketing machines. Advertising is very expensive and not as effective as the marketing tools we all have already at our fingertips. We can also capture further customer information by asking them what they think of our services in the form of customer satisfaction questionnaires and when we receive this feedback we should always take all comments on board in our journey to improve quality and exceed customer expectations. Also look at the major high street retailers and how they capture all the information about our shopping habits on their store cards and then target us with specific offers why not offer your customers a loyalty card. It is estimated that 68% of people leave a business because of indifference, correspond regularly with your customers. There is a golden rule in marketing that will make you wealthy, once you have someone’s details keep on following up until they buy, die or tell you to stop.

STAFF

The people who most represent our business in focusing on the customer are our staff and used correctly they can add significant value, so keep them informed and involve them, they can be a source of valuable information. Look at their communication methods and skills and ensure like your marketing material they are portraying a positive message. It is your staff that can upsell to your customers. Look at the fast food chains who are the greatest exploiters of upselling, by asking at every transaction is that large or super and of this upsell 85% is profit and though a single transaction does not offer a lot, do it a million times a day and it makes a very large difference. Also allow your team to be involved in the business, hold regular brainstorming sessions, you will be amazed where some of the best ideas come from. If the staff are involved in the business and are made to feel part of the decision process, then you will see return in their loyalty and effort in moving the business forward. Always Remember

Together

Everyone

Achieves

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USE YOUTUBE TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS

March 1, 2012

WHY HAVEN’T YOU CONSIDERED UTILISING YOUTUBE FOR BUSINESS

YouTube was founded in 2005 and it describes itself as a platform which allows billions of people to watch and share originally created videos. It provides a forum for people to connect, inform and inspire others across the globe. YouTube is now a subsidiary of Google and has 800 million registered users and only last month it announced that it currently has four billion video views a day!!

For business YouTube can be utilised as a highly effective tool to share knowledge, market your products and connect with actual and potential customers and colleagues. It will help to build more personal relationships with your client base and it does not require a big budget, just a video camera, creativity and time to plan. Let’s highlight some of the uses for YouTube in your business:

  • Upload recordings of presentations to demonstrate public speaking skills
  • Create videos of valuable tips for your customers
  • Interview an expert
  • Record a meeting to share with employees and shareholders
  • Advertise your YouTube channel in all of your marketing materials
  • Explain your product or service
  • Utilise it as an active website
  • Introduce your team
  • Video your venue/premises

The key to ensuring that your video is a success and portrays the correct message is in the planning; do not try to short cut this as it will surely back fire on you. Your clip needs to inform, educate and entertain your audience. Prior to starting your video consider these key points:

  • Good content – ensure that you engage with your audience so they want to share the clip with their friends
  • Plan ahead – start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve and your target audience. Planning will save time and energy and ensure better content
  • Don’t think like it should be a commercial. It should be a soft sell, entertaining viewers, offering valuable information and marketing indirectly
  • It needs to be a high quality production as this will reflect on your business
  • Keep it short and precise and under two to three minutes as YouTube viewers tend to have a short attention span. Longer content can be broken down into a number of clips
  • Attracting traffic to your video works in the same way as your website so the title and summary to your video has to utilise search engine optimisation (SEO). When deciding on the title and headline ensure you select words and phrases that when potential customers are searching online the search engines decide that your video is the best match.

Once you have uploaded your video don’t just forget it invest time and energy in promoting it. You should post links to your video everywhere including your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, tweet about it, company stationery, email signature and all your marketing material.

You also need to ensure that you are achieving a return on investment and YouTube has very good analytical and demographic information so review this to check that your video is reaching the write audience and if not correct it to maximise return.

 


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