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MURTEC 2019: A Digitally-Driven and Hyper-Personal Guest Journey is Everything

With a few days to reflect on the conference sessions and my many conversations with restaurant operators and industry technology vendors at this year’s edition of MURTEC in Las Vegas, the disruptive effect of digital and mobile on the dining guest experience has shifted.  No longer are the impacts of these technologies on the extended guest journey a point of competitive differentiation.

They are, in fact, 100% table stakes for not just success, but survival – pure and simple.

According BRP’s previous restaurant consumer research, and we feel was confirmed by the themes in Vegas at MURTEC, the dining spend of restaurant guests is being increasingly directed to those restaurants providing the most flexible and frictionless experience possible.  We still expect that as much as 30% of total restaurant sales (or $300 billion if you are keeping track) could be generated via digital ordering methods as early as 2023.

And it’s not just the guest-facing, front-of-house improvements being driven by digital and mobile technologies, significant improvements in restaurant operations are also being delivered across areas like kitchen production, training, labor, and reporting and analytics.

Along with the strategic “call to action” themes we confirmed at MURTEC, we continue to see many areas of critical priority for restaurant chains and operators as we move through 2019, including:

Allowing the customer to order from you any way they want– This includes not only the methods by which customers order (traditional, phone, web, mobile) but also providing the same flexibility when fulfilling that order. Recognizing that a customer one day may want to order from their phone and eat-in when they arrive, while the next day they might want to order on the web and pick their order up in the drive-thru shows that you have the flexibility to adapt to any ordering scenario. And while we are thinking about flexibility, remember that different dining customers want to pay for their meals different ways so providing agile and secure payment systems are also key.

The Growth in Off-Premises Dining (OPD)– Operators are excited about the revenue growth opportunities presented by the dining consumer who wants to order food from their restaurant for either pick up or delivery.  The ability to natively support the plethora of 3rdparty delivery companies is key, as is considering the value of providing your own branded OPD capabilities.

Guest Engagement Innovation is Coming to Restaurants– As certain advanced technologies mature and dining guest acceptance becomes more commonplace, don’t be surprised to see a more rapid adoption of technologies like voice-assisted ordering, ordering via auto infotainment systems, augmented reality (AR) for both guest and staff immersion, and the broad acceptance of restaurant-oriented Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and insight that will help further improve the automation and efficiency of key components of the restaurant.

Capitalizing on Customer Data– Managing a guest journey is one thing, being able to provide a true personalized experience at each stage of the guest journey is another.  While incenting guests to participate in your marketing and loyalty programs is important, the ability to effective leverage that customer insight during each stage of guest engagement (from reservation to arrival to ordering to pay) is what will create the right combination of customer satisfaction and financial value (through higher guest checks and increased frequency of visits).

The Shift to Next-Generation POS platforms – Many restaurants require increased flexibility and scale from their most important operational technology platform.   Often this means looking at shifting to a cloud-based platform and in some cases includes more native mobile tools.  In either case, continued reliance on a long-standing legacy POS system will make the shift to digital much more difficult.

Agile-oriented Thinking is an Imperative– With the rapid increase in guest expectations, restaurants need to adopt agile approaches to everything: strategy, development, processes, and system implementations.

We can’t stress enough how clear the message is from all parts of our industry – guests, vendors, and operators – that digital enablement is mission-critical to not just continued success in your restaurant operation, but to your survival.  If you aren’t moving fast toward this revolution, then now is the time to step up.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Please share your comments and opinions below.

Scott

Who Controls Diners’ Data? OpenTable Moves to Assert Control

The Wall Street Journal – Some restaurateurs say booking service is trying to squeeze rival SevenRooms; OpenTable says it is protecting user privacy.

The value of diner data is rising as restaurant groups look to target customers with individualized products and services. OpenTable is barring restaurants from sharing data with rival booking services without its permission, intensifying a fight for control of the information diners disclose when they make reservations online. The table-booking service will block restaurants from giving competitors access to diner data acquired through OpenTable unless they pay new fees, according to its updated client agreement and a copy of a new pricing plan viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Data about diners is becoming increasingly valuable, as restaurant groups look to mine information about customers and their preferences to target them with individualized products and services. Chains are using the information to tweak menus, flag diners’ allergies and track spending patterns. “To do that level of personalization, that level of engagement, you need to know more,” said Scott Langdoc, who leads the restaurant consulting practice at BRP Consulting.

Read full article (subscription required): Who Controls Diners’ Data? OpenTable Moves to Assert Control

OpenTable Tightens Control Over Diners’ Data

PYMNTS – In a move that strengthens the battle for control of information that diners provide online, OpenTable is preventing restaurants from providing competitors with access to data from its platform. With the updated agreement, restaurant operators cannot access and copy data without the consent of the platform, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While some restauranteurs believe OpenTable “is trying to freeze out SevenRooms,” according to the paper, OpenTable’s Steve Hafner claims the move is an effort to protect the privacy of diners as well as the platform’s control of the information. “That information is absolutely not the restaurants’,” Hafner said, according to WSJ.
OpenTable is currently the largest platform for booking tables at restaurants in the U.S.

Diner information has taken on more value, as restaurant groups look to serve customers with personalized products and services. Chains, for instance, are tapping into data to take note of allergies, monitor spending patterns and adjust menus. Scott Langdoc, who heads up BRP’s restaurant consulting practice, told the paper, “To do that level of personalization, that level of engagement, you need to know more.”

Read Full Article: OpenTable Tightens Control Over Diners’ Data

Offering a Digital Dining Experience is Now Table Stakes for Restaurants

It certainly is no secret that people across all demographic categories have transformed their day-to-day activities through the use of digital technologies, especially via the smartphone.  For those of us keeping tabs on the restaurant industry, we have further validation of just how impactful this digitalization, especially the mobile-centric variety, is on the consumer and their overall dining journey.

According to our most recent survey-based research report, Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations, an ever increasing number of restaurant guests, especially Millennials, are using their mobile devices at each and every point of their dining experience.

Similar to our friends in the broader retail industry, restaurant operators are witnessing rapid growth in the digital expectations of their customers, who don’t just want, but expect, a broad range of digital-driven capabilities as part of their guest experience.  As guest expectations for digital-driven dining continue to rise, all those responsible for delivering a successful guest experience – whether they are a restaurant brand, a franchisee, or independent operator – must rapidly adopt new digital technologies to enhance the entire dining journey.

The ENTIRE digital journey?  Absolutely. The role of digital engagement is now firmly implanted in every single step of that journey, starting well before and ending well after the actual restaurant visit.  Pre-meal research is a habit across all generations and demographics, especially for discovering new restaurant choices and selecting fine dining options. Digital ordering (whether from home, by app or at the restaurant) is a growing expectation while sharing results of dining experiences with friends via social media is a new form of entertainment. These expanded engagement areas shine a light on how restaurant operators need to think about the entire lifecycle of a guest’s dining experience – including how the intersection of restaurant operations, existing processes and legacy IT platforms need to quickly transform to support these new data-driven demands and influence needs.

As we noted (and not unexpectedly), Millennials are leading and driving this charge by using digital devices to enhance their dining experience over half the time (53%).  Specific measures of their digital activities include:

  • 60% research where and what to eat
  • 51% check ratings/reviews while in a restaurant
  • 23% share pictures and content during and after the visit.

It’s not a secret that the dining journey has radically changed, as have guest expectations of what makes a great dining experience. Digital-driven influences are no longer at the periphery of the dining experience, as they influence 40% of all dining visits.

Simply said, they are required tickets to entry.

Therefore, embedding a wide array of full digital dining capabilities – everything from social engagement to guest WiFi to flexible ordering options, and real-time and personalized guest promotions – should be part of every restaurant’s strategic DNA.

To download the complete Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectationsreport, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-restaurant-research-report/.

As always, I appreciate your opinions – both on the insight from the report and across the broader restaurant and hospitality space.  Please share your thoughts and opinions below.

Scott

 

Chicago has a new e-commerce rock star

Crain’s Chicago Business – Grubhub is now the top performer among local publicly traded companies over the past 12 months as it expands its restaurant delivery business and beats financial forecasts.

It helps that Grubhub is beating Wall Street’s forecasts, showing record growth in the second quarter, for instance, in what traditionally are its slowest months of the year. To underscore the point, the company raised its financial targets for the year.

A big driver is delivery. Maloney was happy to handle online orders, but he resisted getting into the delivery business, a low-margin hassle. That changed three years ago, when Grubhub acquired several early players and has built out its own network.

Grubhub also got deeper into restaurant technology, another messy business, integrating its mobile app directly into point-of-sale systems. It’s a key reason for the LevelUp acquisition. “If we’re going to grow the business, we have to go to where our customers are and relieve them of their burdens,” Maloney says. “I’m able to do delivery at scale more efficiently than 80,000 individual restaurants can. The same is true of POS integration.”

One risk is technology. “Grubhub has grown in terms of locations and geography. With that growth have come these land mines of complexity, integration and execution,” says Scott Langdoc, a San Francisco-based senior vice president of BRP Consulting, which advises restaurants on strategy and technology.

Read Full Article: Chicago has a new e-commerce rock star

Food Customers’ Expectations Rise as Technology Evolves

Convenience Store Decisions – Digital technology continues to shape customers’ expectations when dining out. According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) and Windstream Enterprise, rapidly evolving guest expectations and digital technologies are driving a major transformation in the restaurant industry.

“The Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations” report, based on research conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise, combines findings from surveys of 1,225 restaurant guests and 60 restaurant executives.

“As guest expectations continue to rise, restaurants must transform their business with new technologies to make the dining experience more seamless and frictionless,” said Scott Langdoc, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Unfortunately, many restaurant brands and franchisees have a long way to go to catch up to guest expectations. The good news is that restaurants are aware of the gap and their future plans include enhancements to key areas that guests deem important for a great experience: ease of ordering and payment, WiFi availability, and mobile POS.”

Ease in Payments And Ordering Are Central to Restaurant Success, a Survey Finds

Digital Transactions – What do diners want most when they go out to eat? Apparently, easy ordering and payment. That’s the big takeaway in the “Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations” report released Thursday.

Hassle-free ordering and payment are especially important to younger consumers, defined as those between 18 and 37 years old. Seventy-four percent of them said ease of ordering and payment is extremely important to them, yet only 45% of restaurants meet that expectation, found the report from Boston-based BRP Consulting, which specializes in retail and restaurants.

“For Millennials, digital is shorthand for taking friction out of the order and payment process, allowing them to shop the way they want wherever they want,” the report said. “They, along with Gen Z, also value interactive technology and digital content (music, movies, games, digital shorts) more so than older generations.”

While restaurants whose primary guests may not have the same expectation now, BRP says such demands will become “table stakes in two years.”

Read full article: Ease in Payments And Ordering Are Central to Restaurant Success, a Survey Finds

New Survey Findings Confirm the Digital Lag between Guest Expectations and Current Restaurant Technology

The team at BRP is excited to have sponsored (along with our parent company Windstream Enterprise) a new report titled The Restaurant Digital Crossroads:  The Race to Meet Guest Expectations.  The report was produced by Incisiv and details the research survey findings from 1,225 restaurant guests and 60 restaurant executives.  The central message derived from the findings was crystal clear to all of us – rapidly evolving guest expectations and digital technologies are driving a major transformation across the whole of the restaurant industry.

Looking deeper into the themes the survey data told us, as guest expectations continue to rise, restaurants must transform their business with new, digital-enabling technologies to make the dining experience more seamless and frictionless – period. Unfortunately, many restaurant brands and franchisees (and you know who you are) have a long way to go to catch up to guest expectations. The good news is that restaurants (both brand owners and their franchisees) are increasingly aware of the gap the report calls out, and their short and long-term future plans include enhancements to key areas that guests deem important for a great experience, including easing the of ordering and payment process, adding or improving guest WiFi availability, and mobile POS capability.

Restaurant guests expect (make that demand) a frictionless dining experience that empowers them with relevant, helpful information, all while making it MORE convenient for them to operate on their own time and at their pace.  This requires restaurant operators to embed a broader spectrum of digital technology across the entire dining journey.

As you would expect, the Millennial and Gen-Z consumer demographics have the highest expectations for digital capabilities. The report identifies significant gaps between what younger generations feel is extremely important and what current capabilities many restaurant operators have in place.  Specific examples of this gap from the Incisiv/BRP survey findings include:

Ease of ordering and payment – Guests expect the ordering and payment process to be easy and frictionless.

  • 74% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 45% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

Guest WiFi availability – Guests expect fast and free WiFi in restaurants, especially where cell reception is limited.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 44% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

Discounts and promotions – Guests expect to receive digital discounts and promotions on any platform they choose, especially their mobile devices.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 35% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

There is a lot more data and strategic insight behind the excellent work Incisiv did on behalf of BRP and Windstream Enterprise.  I encourage you to download and read through the entire Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations survey findings report:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your opinions – both on the insight from the report and across the broader restaurant and hospitality space.  Please share your thoughts and opinions below.

Scott

71% of Guests Identify Ease of Ordering and Payment as Important yet Only 45% of Restaurants have Excellent Execution of these Capabilities, According to Recent Survey

Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations Report Identifies Gaps Between Restaurant Execution and Guest Expectations

Boston, MA – July 12, 2018– According to a new report from BRP and Windstream Enterprise, rapidly evolving guest expectations and digital technologies are driving a major transformation in the restaurant industry. The Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations report, based on research conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise, combines findings from surveys of 1,225 restaurant guests and 60 restaurant executives.

“As guest expectations continue to rise, restaurants must transform their business with new technologies to make the dining experience more seamless and frictionless,” said Scott Langdoc, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Unfortunately, many restaurant brands and franchisees have a long way to go to catch up to guest expectations. The good news is that restaurants are aware of the gap and their future plans include enhancements to key areas that guests deem important for a great experience: ease of ordering and payment, WiFi availability, and mobile POS.”

Restaurant guests expect a frictionless dining experience that empowers them with relevant, helpful information and makes it convenient for them to operate on their own time and at their pace.  This requires restaurant operators to embed digital technology across the entire dining journey.

The Millennial and Gen-Z generations have the highest expectations for digital capabilities. The report identifies significant gaps between what younger generations feel is extremely important and what capabilities restaurant operators are operating excellently:

Ease of ordering and payment – Guests expect the ordering and payment process to be easy and frictionless.

  • 74% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 45% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

WiFi availability – Guests expect fast and free WiFi in restaurants, especially where cell reception is limited.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 44% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

Discounts and promotions – Guests expect to receive digital discounts and promotions on any platform they choose, especially their mobile devices.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 35% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

To download the complete Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations report, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-restaurant-research-report/.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

Diners Have High Expectations for Restaurant Tech

eMarketer – As in many industries, there is a gap between consumer expectations and business execution for restaurants. Operators are often slow to adopt new technologies and those that they’ve implemented aren’t always satisfactory.

In a February 2018 survey of US internet users and restaurant executives by BRP (Boston Retail Partners) and Windstream Enterprise, restaurant operators met consumer expectations on only two factors: contactless/mobile payment, for which 32% of consumers valued it and one-third of operators offered it, and Wi-Fi availability (44% both valued it and offered it).

Consumer expectations will be even higher over the next 24 months. The most important factor now (71%) and in two years (81%) is simply ease of payment, but just 45% of restaurant operators said they had “excellent” execution.  Two of the biggest jumps in consumer expectation between now and 2020 will be the ability to order ahead digitally (a 55% increase) and Wi-Fi availability (up 59%).

Read Full Article: Diners Have High Expectations for Restaurant Tech