Many unexpected business improvements have come out of 2020 & 2021, with technology right at the top, certainly as far as hospitality is concerned. In an Access Hospitality webinar in March, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality acknowledged the speed at which tech had evolved to support business in 2020 saying “I have never seen such a rapid rollout of technology; things that would normally take three to five years to get through. We have now got that seamless integration of technology and the acceleration towards a single portal for a customer.”
This ability to adapt to a rapidly evolving environment could also explain changing attitudes towards the benefits of technology amongst operators. A recent survey by data and research consultancy CGA revealed that businesses are overall less frustrated with technology than they were last year, with frustration at the speed of implementation of new tech showing one of the biggest improvements as it fell from 48% in 2020 to 32% in 2021.
When venues were forced to close in 2020 many turned to delivery or takeaway as a means of generating trade with a swift uptake in click and collect / delivery apps. When venues reopened, technology played its part again not just in a standard reservation platform but with innovative solutions such as LiveWait by Access Collins which prevented customers from having to queue and simply get a notification when a table became available. The speed of integration of these service improvements enabled many operators to prevent business interruption.
The survey also highlighted an improvement in the understanding of data, with the level of frustration dropping from 27% to 19%. It is possible to access huge amounts of data from the right technology platforms but this is ineffective if it is not easy to digest and cannot be seen across all operational areas.
Integrating your tech is key to lessen frustrations
The survey reported that the main concern was the frustration of technology integration or, more accurately, the lack of it! Although this has eased over the last year, it is still a problem for over half of those who responded. Technology solutions for different aspects of business are increasingly available but rapid advances in mobile options, such as apps, have generated a range of stand-alone alternatives. These may resolve an immediate need but won’t contribute to long-term development and expansion or contribute to a wider business overview. Instead of being seduced by the latest offer, it’s worth spending time on research to ensure the hospitality systems you ultimately choose will integrate with existing solutions and provide a unified technology response to business needs.
In the 2020 survey, 20% of those questioned were frustrated by inaccurate data but this had dropped to 12% by 2021, suggesting that more operators have already learnt the value of technology in storing, accessing and interpreting data. The stories of unreliable manual data entry and using spreadsheets have been a common issue and, it seems, that using technology to your advantage is becoming more commonplace and yielding improved results.
Being smart about technology
Whilst there may be some frustration associated with technology, the survey showed that understanding of how it can help business development is heading in the right direction. Business owners should prioritise tech needs according to their trading model and do their research to choose what is right for them as there are so many options for individual solutions. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality had it covered saying “Where you want to use technology is in a smart way to allow your staff to be freed up to deliver better service. That’s where technology comes into its own.”
Considering your tech partner carefully and ensuring they understand your business can help reduce the frustrations which can often be felt when introducing new technology. Tailoring the support they can provide, and finding a smart way of working together for your needs can ensure you get the most of the technology, your partnership and helping your business thrive.