Imagine making an online reservation for two at one of your favorite restaurants, and a few hours before you and your dining partner arrive, you get a text message. The text contains a personalized offer for two of your favorite desserts if you spend $75 or more. Though you weren’t planning on splurging, you decide to opt for the steak instead of the chicken, pushing your check total just over $75. After you finish your entrees, your waiter appears with two slices of decadent cheesecake, delighting your partner and making your night that much more memorable.
This situation was made possible because the restaurant was able to combine its data from the reservation tool with its data from their customer engagement platform and utilize it in a way that makes a difference for the customer. Reservation data can be valuable when a restaurant can merge it with a platform like Como Sense allowing marketers and business owners to surprise and delight customers with highly personalized offers sent at the right time to boost customer loyalty and increase spend.
Reservation tools are an important part of a much bigger picture, so restaurants need to make sure that they are selecting tools that allow them to collect and own the customer data.
Related reading: How Owned Customer Data Can Grow Your Business with Customer Engagement Tools
What kinds of reservation tools are available?
Online reservation tools have applications that extend far beyond merely allowing a customer to make a reservation through an app. They can be used to assign tables, recognize repeat customers (along with customer preferences and dietary restrictions), allow customers to prepay for meals online, or require a deposit to reduce costly no-shows.
Overall, reservation tools are generally divided into two categories: booking only, or discovery paired with booking to help diners search for and find new restaurants to visit. Reservation tools can be standalone, web-only, or integrated with other tools like the POS system.
For those tools that integrate with POS systems, the degree of integration can vary. Some services offer tight integration with the POS and allow the business to access data like average guest spend, order history, and personalized guest notes. Others may offer less integration with the POS but still allow you to streamline your service with features like table status to help with in-house operations.
Services native to the POS solution are also available, like QReservations from UK EPOS provider Cunninghams. QReservations allows restaurants to take reservations months in advance, with secure bookings made directly from the restaurant website. QReservations automates the reservations process while gathering data on customer location, habits, and preferences to provide valuable insights that can be used to improve operational efficiency, customer service, and sales and marketing efforts.
Restaurants operate on a notoriously low-profit margin, with limited service restaurants at an average of 5.9%, and fine dining at around 1.8%. To be successful, it is important that restaurants use the tools at their disposal to improve operational efficiencies: keeping costs low, sales high, and ensuring that all tables are working at maximum potential.
With so many different options for reservation tools, it can be difficult to know which is the best match for your business requirements, however, any tool restaurants choose should allow them to maintain ownership and control of valuable customer data – rather than allowing that data to be used only by 3rd parties.
In closing, access to another source of data through reservation tools provides restaurant owners with additional insights, given that the tool allows you to own the data or integrate it with your POS system. To gain the most value from this data, business should reservations and POS data with customer engagement tools like Como Sense in order to transform this data into insights and to highly targeted offers that boost customer loyalty and spend.
For more information on how to unleash your business potential by using your own data or schedule a demo, contact Como today.