Many in the hospitality industry were looking ahead to 2018 with trepidation, and who could blame them? Brexit is coming ever closer, labour shortages are becoming a problem and costs are rising. Yet the UK hospitality industry is remarkably resilient, and business remains buoyant in many areas.
For instance, the start of 2017 saw the highest number of new hotel rooms opening since 2012 – and PwC predicts that room occupancy will rise to 76% in London this year.
As providers of hospitality software, over the last three years we’ve also seen the exciting development of many new concepts and restaurant openings in the UK.
In fact, we’re so convinced of the robust nature of the industry that we’re Gold Sponsors at the Restaurant Association’s 50th anniversary celebrations at the Savoy on February 26.
As we look ahead to post-Brexit 2020, and examine the experiences of our own customers, I’m sure the businesses who thrive will those that take advantage of technology to transform the way they operate.
Here’s my view of the key drivers for technology-enabled success:
> Mobility – particularly app-based
> Cloud technology – fast and affordable deployment
> Enhanced guest experience – based on data and personalised service
> Social media – positive online engagement
> Online ordering/booking – responding to consumer behaviour
> Loyalty programmes – for increased revenue and client retention.
Mobility – Our clients Gaucho/CAU, a growing group of steakhouses, use our Aloha EPOS mobile technology to drive greater staff mobility and improve customer service with efficient point of sale.
Serving staff can use mobile devices including tablets to take orders at tableside, sending them instantly to the kitchen.
Cloud technology – Honest Burgers have successfully deployed our cloud-based POS solution Silver over 28 restaurants, delivering multi-site management and web-based reporting on a cost-effective basis.
Because the system is cloud-based, it gives managers access to comprehensive information wherever they have an internet connection.
Online bookings – The contemporary Beales Hotel Group deployed our roomMaster PMS and Rendezvous Events venue management technology to streamline operations.
The PMS automatically pushes out rates and availability to online travel agents, saving staff time and giving guests 24/7 booking facilities.
General Manager Mark Schipper says: “We’re doing incredibly well on our rooms and the rate is continuing to go up.”
Social media – Dishoom, one of our fast growing restaurant operators, use social media as a key component of their customer engagement.
Head of operations Brian Trollip says their Aloha EPOS management system from NFS has helped Dishoom grow to six large and successful restaurants, with more in the pipeline thanks to keeping customers happy.
Personalised service – The British Airways i360 in Brighton is one of the UK’s most exciting new venues – and uses our Rendezvous venue management software to deliver a great customer experience.
“Whether it’s checking availability of a room, checking a contract for a client or issuing an invoice, the system has worked really well for us,” says Sales Manager Sophie Shepherd.
Loyalty – Shandon Hotel and Spa in Donegal has quickly established a reputation as a leading spa hotel with the help of our roomMaster PMS.
The system’s giftcard facilities are helping the resort to promote loyalty.
“It’s great for us – we actually brought in £320,000 on gift cards in the first year,” said General Manager Carolynne Harrison.
So it’s clear that as we move on through troubled times ahead, successful hospitality businesses will need to combine efficient operations with the innovative use of technology and reliable services from suppliers to deliver a profitable business and a great guest experience.
With our 24/7 support desk and well-established systems, at NFS we’re well-placed to help.
As Colin Williams, Estates and Property Manager at CAU, says: “We’ve been with NFS for ten years, and they are absolutely fundamental to us. The NFS product line is very good – and you get an unbelievable level of customer service.
“We like the functionality in terms of streamlining our business – it’s saving us money and time, improving operational efficiency and capturing data so we can identify trends.
“Our market is constantly changing, and the Aloha EPOS solution from NFS helps us keep up. In all, it helps us deliver a slicker guest service experience.”