Next-gen restaurant technology is all about turning collected data into actionable insights that can help save you money. By Shane Conroy
Rapidly developing technology is changing the restaurant business at a fundamental level, and affordable cloud-based tools are putting the power of digital transformation into the hands of large and small hospitality operations alike.
Integrated booking and table inventory systems are revolutionising front-of-house management, and internet-connected monitoring devices are giving restaurant owners more control in the kitchen. And while ‘big data’ has been on everyone’s lips in recent years, the next generation of restaurant technology is focused on converting that data into real, actionable insights that restaurant owners can use to directly drive revenue increases in your business.
That’s all good news, but even better is the affordability and ease of use that cloud-based technology affords. Implementing most platforms is as simple as downloading an app, and restaurant owners can now manage the critical operations of their business from their mobile phones. It’s a brave new world in restaurant management, and one that promises greater efficiency and more revenue while reducing the heavy burden of on-site hours that restaurant owners have become accustomed to shouldering.
OpenTable is an excellent example of this shift to cloud-based restaurant management. Widely known as a leading customer-facing online booking website, it has delivered more than 11 million diners to its over 1600-member restaurants since the company launched in Australia in 2015.
However, OpenTable offers much more to restaurant owners than a healthy flow of online bookings. It’s also a sophisticated front-of-house management system that can help you maximise efficiency to squeeze more revenue out of your peak demand times.
“The OpenTable GuestCenter is our flagship table management solution,” explains Tim Domelow, senior account executive at Open Table. “It’s a cloud-based solution that’s accessible on any internet-connected device. The iPad app is the focus for the host’s stand. It allows the user at the restaurant to control the floor of the restaurant. At a glance, they can see which tables are available, which tables are seated, how long they’ve been seated for, what course they’re up to, and how much they’re likely to spend based on visit history.”
GuestCenter also manages online and phone reservations, as well as walk-ins and wait lists with two-way SMS diner notifications that help you ensure all your tables are full.
“We continuously collect data and present it in a way that makes it easy for restaurant owners to make better decisions about when maintenance may be required.”—Michael White, CEO, CCP Technologies
But that’s only the beginning. For restaurant owners, OpenTable’s GuestCenter mobile phone app provides deep insights that allow you to monitor the performance of your restaurant in real time from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
“The sort of owner insights we’re providing are things like peak demand periods,” says Domelow. “Knowing when the restaurant is going to be busy certainly helps restaurant owners with managing workloads and tinkering with rosters to make sure staffing is adequate during peak demand and also that you’re minding your costs during slower periods.
“Where we have point-of-sale solutions connected into our GuestCenter, you can even look at average spend by reservation time, and analyse how much a walk-in spends versus a telephone booking versus an online booking. These meaningful insights can help the owner decide where to channel their marketing budget and decide what sort of business they want to become.”
Controlling the kitchen
New technology is also providing better insights in the kitchen. CCP Technologies offers a refrigeration monitoring system in which internet-connected devices send real-time data to a cloud-based dashboard that restaurant owners can access via a mobile phone app.
“It helps restaurant owners understand the performance of their refrigerator assets,” says Michael White, CEO of CCP Technologies. “We continuously collect data and present it in a way that makes it easy for restaurant owners to make better decisions about when maintenance may be required. Then they can avoid having a catastrophic failure, which leads to costly food wastage.”
White can see a near future where a range of kitchen appliances are all continuously monitored by internet-connected apps, and restaurant owners can log into the CCP platform on their mobile phones for a real-time glance at how each is performing.
“We’re doing trials at the moment in monitoring power consumption at the appliance level,” White explains. “Most of the building management systems monitor power usage at the meter. So they give a very broad view of what’s happening in power consumption. But that doesn’t really help restaurant owners understand what they can actually do to reduce power consumption for each appliance.”
Whether you’re increasing front-of-house efficiency, preventing equipment failures or reducing power consumption in the kitchen, the next generation of restaurant technology is all about providing a new level of visibility into your operations.