And this is another advantage of technology. With the right deployment, restaurants can adapt the guest experience.
“I think, again, it comes down to personalization and caring about what the guest needs and wants, not just sending them messages and hoping they will respond, but also showing due diligence to know that something will get resonance, ”says Zois.
But what constitutes care for guests can be a difficult question. In Barcelona, technology is not part of the relationship building equation. The 18-unit concept has incorporated some technology into its work – “we’re not complete madmen,” says Halberg, “but it does so very thoughtfully, deliberately. The brand is currently exploring technologies that can help with systems such as F&B inventory. He also wants to upgrade the POS system.
“Now there are really smart people who create great apps for restaurants. It has finally caught up with the restaurant industry. In general, the problem we have always had and still have is what we want from our technology; that’s usually what we want to set up, ”says Halberg.
Even before the pandemic, Barcelona used Wisely (now based on Olo) for online bookings because it allowed for customization. Unlike other platforms that direct users to alternative restaurants when a certain amount of time is not available, Wisely invites guests to call the restaurant and provides a phone number. Because ground staff read better on foot, they may be able to accept bookings.
At least, this is an opportunity to strengthen relations with guests – and in this Halberg sees the potential. He advocates technologies that streamline operations, but are not interested in reducing opportunities for interoperability, even if such solutions make things “easier”.
This is a point that Halberg regularly discusses with Tim McLaughlin, CEO of GoTab. Barcelona is using the platform for takeaway orders, but has abandoned its pay-as-you-go feature.
“He jokes that servers are great when you can find them. … From his point of view, this payment from the phone and just “get up and go” like things would be a real victory, “says Halberg. He admits that for places like food halls or even snack bars, it’s great idea, but not for restaurants like Barcelona.After all, the restaurant invests a lot of time in training staff to maintain their antennas so they can respond quickly to the needs of guests.
“It’s not because we don’t want convenience, but because we’re losing that last touch. If you came to my house for lunch and you left without the opportunity to say goodbye to each other, something would be wrong with our relationship, ”says Halberg. “There’s something we really felt we’d lose if we had to adopt such a payment system.”
But again, this is not the case for all concepts. Zoiss also compares the reception of guests at one of the Bottleneck Management restaurants with inviting them into the house. For the brand, the best way to show hospitality is to make it as smooth as possible for the customer.
“No matter what technology we implement, we still want to consider what the guest needs and warmly welcome them, whether they use the technology in the restaurant or not,” Zois says. “We’re not quick random; we provide a full range of services and we intend to always be full service ”.
Know your product
In recent years, the segment of rapid daily production has increased both its offerings and the hospitality ratio, but even so, the latter remains a hallmark of the full-service category. The way restaurants interpret the application and effectiveness of technology can vary greatly, but the guiding principle remains the same: any addition to a restaurant’s work should help improve guests ’experiences.
Goldstein of Thanx says one of the potential pitfalls for operators is only half commitment to technology solutions.
“Brands that go only for part of the technology solution can annoy consumers. The reality is, when I take out my phone and scan the QR code, why can’t I order a glass of wine right away? Why am I waiting for the server to arrive? ” he says. “One of the things we see great brands doing in full service is to really distinguish between an experience that has great technology and a completely non-technical experience.”
For example, when guests enter an establishment with white tablecloths, they expect a paper menu and interaction with the waiters, Goldstein says. However, if the guest settles in the daily bar with a menu with a QR code, he will need the ability to order and pay digitally.
Example: in the early days of COVID-19 Barcelona launched a menu with a QR code, mainly as a sanitary measure. Once it became clear how the coronavirus was transmitted (usually not through the surface), Halberg wanted to return the restaurant menu to a leather cover.
This touch, he adds, helped guests feel they were no longer trapped in the pandemic. The restaurant may not be a concept of fine dining, but the CEO wanted it to embody the same level of hospitality. Problems with paper supply chains have further delayed the rollback of the QR code menu, but Halberg believes it is still on the horizon.
Because, after all, Barcelona wants to differentiate through lunch.
“Assessing whether we will keep this technology in 2022 and 2023 really depends on what you are selling. If you’re selling a fried chicken sandwich, then definitely your goal should be to deliver people a fried chicken sandwich as quickly as possible, ”says Halberg. “If what you’re selling is an exciting experience, then anything that removes you from that experience is detrimental to the product. … A guest in Barcelona who scrolls social networks on their phones instead of talking to the bartender, meeting new people, listening to music – all this worsens the product. Our product is an experience. “