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.

 


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