We have spoken before in this blog about the increased customer demand for digital technology and services – and, for digital ordering and payments. Often when we talk about a digital ordering platform, we do it in reference to restaurants and pure food or drink establishments, but the truth is that the technology can be applied across multiple verticals; that includes hotels.Some hotels do choose to partner with aggregators, allowing them to deliver food to guest rooms, but we have to wonder why would you encourage guests to look for food from another company when there is the opportunity for them them to order from your own restaurant via a branded app or website?
These days, launching an order and delivery service doesn’t rely on huge expenditure. It doesn’t need to cause disruption in the kitchen or require investment in extra staff. Plus, the benefits of having an owned service – including enhanced customer satisfaction and engagement – are huge. Keeping that in mind, if a hotel does want to advertise and run its own customers, there are a some essential features you will want to include.
User experience and design
The importance of a good user experience cannot be ignored. Consumers come to conclusions quickly, they will judge a service by its look, ease of use and functionality. If they don’t enjoy the experience during their first use, they won’t give it a second chance. They should have the choice of room service, ordering-to-table in the dining room or order ahead for collection or timed-eating in.
To encourage repeat use, hotels want to build a platform that guests can easily navigate. They should be able to view a menu, place their order and pay in just a few clicks. The key is to design a clean, branded, and slick user interface that represents the hotel accurately.
Loyalty programme features
The option of engaging with a loyalty programme gives customers strong incentive to return and place repeat orders, whether on their visit or subsequent ones.
The best ordering platforms have loyalty built in as standard, but for businesses that want to go the extra mile, there’s also the option of integrating with third party suppliers. The use of an expert loyalty partner can help raise the hotel’s loyalty solution to new levels of sophistication.
One of the most common problems brands face when using an aggregator solution, it that they don’t have access to their own customer data. This ties the business to the supplier, forcing them to rely on it to push any marketing. For a hotel – or any business – to maximise the value of their digital ordering platform, it’s important that the team can identify, reach out to or market to customer themselves.
Operators should always look for full, unencumbered access to their customer data, and they shouldn’t have to pay any extra for the privilege. Ideally, when collecting customer and sales data, it will be automatically analysed and laid out on a dashboard so that the business can take full advantage of the information obtained.
Guests at hotels, even more than those at restaurants, expect their favoured brands to know and remember them. A hotel stay usually costs far more than a meal and regular guests want a return on their investment that goes beyond a place to sleep. Guests are far more willing to share their personal information if they get an engaging and personal experience in return.
As stated, it is essential to work with a technology provider that will grant you full access to your customer data, it’s the only way to understand and serve the customer at a level they will appreciate. The combination of pre-order and pre-pay data provides a rounded view of habits and preferences, it’s what allows you to create an effective loyalty scheme and engage customers in your marketing efforts. Personalised marketing creates better engagement, which leads to increased visits and greater spend per head.
Fast and secure ordering
When choosing a digital ordering platform, reliability and security are vital. It is quite likely that guests will have to sign up for an account when they place their first order; they want to know that any payment and personal details they enter will be kept safe. After its first use, the benefit of stored payments is that the guests’ buying journey is shortened, and the experience smoother.
A successful hotel ordering solution will include all of the features discussed above, and perhaps others, but the most important thing to keep in mind is simplicity. Whether the platform in use is an app or an online ordering portal, it is ultimately a means to an end. The customer wants to order food, products of services and pay for them quickly and with minimal fuss. It’s experiences like that which will keep them coming back for more.
If you’re a hotel looking for a digital ordering platform, ask us how we can help.