Would you rather order every part of your dinner in advance or chance it, go with the flow and order on the night?
We have been seeing advantages within the hospitality sector of digitization growing over the past few years. COVID has accelerated the use of this technology to prebook / preorder / prepare our interactions at many hospitality venues from ordering a coffee to booking a hotel stay with food, activities and experiences all planned out in advance.
We’ve been talking with clients about the impact of this pre-order approach and looking at the implications of providing customers with a human service and how does this alter the essence of hospitality. How much do customers want to feel they are being ‘hosted’? How do you increase spontaneous interactions if it’s all been planned in advance?
What we’ve been discovering is that the human factor, thankfully, isn’t being eleminated. For some, perhaps, but for many those personal interactions are still a valuable part of any experience. The impact is being noticed in other ways.
Service providers are experiencing the benefits of knowing what’s coming. Customers have an expectation mapped out of what they’re going to experience as research and planning has been done in advance. That might raise expectations for the experience but it allows businesses to manage the flow of guests, minimize stressful pinch points in service and most valuably plan their resources.
One of our clients is delighted with the pre-booking system that has resulted from the perhaps more heavily felt impacts of COVID. The process of their customers pre-booking has allowed them to plan the peaks and troughs of their visitor experience with the critical benefit that they can maximise revenue from their food and beverage offer over the course of a visit — the flow of customers can be managed allowing additional spontaneous purchases because the food and beverage is accessible, no long queues or they know it’s a given because customers have pre-booked and lunch is planned in to the day. It’s an experience to be retained as we come out the other side.
Within the hotel sectors clients are able to drive additional spend commitments well in advance. Marketing your offer well and the combination of fierce competition for a staycation in the UK, fear of missing out on an experience and a pent up want to treat ourselves after enduring the past 12–18 months is bringing much wanted revenue back to venues.
This ability to plan in advance we believe will continue to have growing benefits. Experiences will become increasingly tailored.
Research shows that customer expectations are elevated with pre-booking but if that allows hosts to deliver attentive service and feel the knock on benefits of managing human resources, accommodation, food waste and more then surely that’s a win win.