After 20 months of challenges and uncertainty coming out of a global pandemic, restaurants are in recovery mode. Yet, despite this continued recovery, the omicron variant threw operators for a loop as they entered what was supposed to be a busy and profitable holiday season, resulting in canceled bookings and lost revenue. With Valentine’s Day and other major restaurant-based holidays on the horizon, today’s operators must prioritize a direct strategy, offering them more flexibility in how they connect and engage with guests. To do so, they must rely on the technology platforms that enable them to build deeper customer relationships through access to guest data.
In the same way, consumers rallied around restaurants to order direct in the early days of the pandemic; now, more than ever, restaurants need consumers to do the same when booking a reservation. Restaurants don’t need the added stress (and cost) of not being able to create deeper relationships with their customers through a lack of access to guest data. Third-party reservation and online ordering marketplaces that don’t give restaurants their customer data any longer offer a viable business model for restaurants.
Plus, the benefits to consumers going direct lead to better guest experiences every time. When consumer books or orders direct, they can be guaranteed a more personalized guest experience and tailored marketing for future experiences. This can extend to on- or off-premise perks that could include complimentary prosecco for their birthday, preferred seating upon arrival, a special dessert in a takeout order, or a whole host of other benefits.
Since 2011, SevenRooms has offered restaurant operators the ability to build deeper guest relationships that drive more revenue and repeat business. As CEO and Co-Founder of SevenRooms, Joel Montaniel has led business strategy at the company for more than 10 years, scaling it into more than 250 cities globally, helping operators seat more than 500 million guests. With an eye to the future, restaurants that implement a direct booking and ordering strategy, in conjunction with a technology platform like SevenRooms, can provide better experiences to guests that turn one-time customers into loyal regulars.
Unlocking Better Guest Experiences Through Data
According to Montaniel, the pandemic has shown the value and importance of establishing and building direct relationships with guests. A direct guest relationship is crucial to a restaurant’s success. It creates a better way for restaurants to re-engage with their most loyal customers to drive repeat business instead of relying solely on third-party marketplaces.
Studies have shown that acquiring a new customer is seven times more expensive than keeping an existing one. In fact, keeping 5 percent can increase profits by at least 25 percent. When a guest books a reservation or places an online order directly, rather than using third-party marketplaces, this helps restaurant operators collect more data, which can ultimately be used to provide a better guest experience. Not only does a direct strategy enable operators to collect more data, but guests also prefer it, with 67 percent of diners preferring to order direct and 40 percent of consumers more likely to spend more than they had planned when experiences are highly personalized to them.
The SevenRooms platform helps hospitality operators build direct guest relationships that help them increase profitability, drive guest loyalty, capture essential guest data and take back control over the entire guest experience, both on- and off-premise.
“SevenRooms was initially born out of a consumer problem my co-founder, and I experienced while working in banking. With very little time on our hands outside of work, we found it difficult to book reservations at top restaurants in New York City. We either had to book a month in advance or visit enough times to build a relationship with someone who had the power to fit us in at the last minute. We never knew when we were going to have a night off to book in advance, nor could we go frequently enough to become regulars,” explains Montaniel.
“When we founded SevenRooms, it was more common for a maitre’d to keep guest notes stored in their heads, and that database walked out the door with them if they decided to leave the restaurant. So we set out to build a system that would help operators capture data on their guests to personalize the experience regardless of who was the host stand. This, in turn, also helped them increase revenue and profitability, build more relationships, deliver exceptional experiences, and increase repeat visits and orders. It helped make better service easier.”
Leveling Up Restaurant Marketing & Operations
SevenRooms helps smaller independent operators level up their operations with tools that automate many of the most time-consuming processes while helping large, multi-venue groups get more granular with their data to provide guests with personalized hospitality experiences. This is especially relevant today in light of the labor shortages faced by operators globally. The on- and off-premise guest data stored within SevenRooms also helps automate personalized marketing that drives repeat business without additional labor, effort, or marketing expertise. These tools help streamline front-of-house operations to make it easier for restaurant operators to focus on what they do best: offering best-in-class hospitality to their guests.
In the upcoming year, data will be crucial in helping hospitality operators level up their marketing efforts to reach guests with the right messages at the right time, to drive on-premise and off-premise revenue. With on- and off-premise data available in one CRM database, operators can unlock more personalized experiences for their guests that will drive revenue and retention. The key to this is ownership of guest data and having guests opt-in to restaurant marketing programs. When operators own their data, they can build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with customers, resulting in more profitable businesses.
Adopting the Right Restaurant Tech for Right Now
Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a monumental shift in how operators think about new technology and their willingness to adopt new technologies for their businesses. In March 2020, SevenRooms witnessed restaurants rush to tech as a solution to many of the pain points they felt as their businesses were mandated to shut down overnight. Though good for their restaurants in the short term, this quick adoption led to many lessons learned as they realized the importance of working with the right types of tech vendors.
The most important lesson learned over the past 20 months has been the importance of prioritizing ownership of guest data to enable a direct relationship with their customers. Prior to the pandemic, many restaurants relied solely on a third-party reservation process and online ordering marketplaces to get business. However, when the pandemic hit, many of these same restaurants realized they didn’t have access (or ownership) of their guest data. At the onset of COVID, most didn’t even have a customer base to email to let them know they were no longer open for on-premise dining but were offering takeout. They began to truly understand the negative impact to their businesses in outsourcing their guest relationships.
Today, operators understand that the best vendors are those that help facilitate deeper relationships with their customers. They also now understand the importance of working with tech providers who integrate across their entire tech stack — making it seamless for them to do more with less as they operate with less staff, high costs, and tighter margins. This is where SevenRooms comes in, providing a solution that is focused exclusively on their success as we help them drive more revenue and deeper, long-term customer relationships for their restaurants.
Looking Forward into 2022
Over the next 12 months, SevenRooms will continue to innovate its platform with the needs and wants of hospitality operators at the forefront.
“Our industry-leading platform offers hospitality operators a better path forward as we look towards the future to create a more sustainable future for the hospitality industry,” says Montaniel. “With an open and connected business philosophy, we will continue to integrate with other tech vendors and demand channels around the globe while enhancing our product to offer the most complete system on the market today. Our goal is to continue making daily operations easier for hospitality operators with a focus on providing the best experiences to their guests.”
SevenRooms is transforming the industry, from neighborhood restaurants and bars to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, by empowering operators to take back control of their businesses. The full suite of products includes reservations, waitlist and table management, online ordering, mobile order & pay, review aggregation, and marketing automation. These solutions create a 360-degree view of guests across both on- and off-premise dining while providing operators with total control and ownership over their brand, guest relationships, and data.
SevenRooms has hospitality clients in more than 250 cities globally, partnering with many of the world’s largest hospitality brands. Founded in 2011 and venture-backed by Amazon, Comcast Ventures, Highgate Ventures, and Providence Strategic Growth, clients include MGM Resorts International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Jumeirah Group, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bloomin’ Brands, sbe, LDV Hospitality, Zuma, Australian Venue Company, Altamarea Group, AELTC, D&D London, Corbin & King, Live Nation, and Topgolf. For more information, visit www.sevenrooms.com.