Do you remember the first time an online ad suggested a product to you based on your search history? A lot of us were taken aback then, but now it’s not only become the norm, it’s become expected. It feels weird when something is advertised to us that we have zero interest in.
That mentality has become so normalized that it’s now apart of our core consuming habits. From what title cards on Netflix you see, to McDonald’s latest $300 million acquisition of Dynamic Yield to make “decision logic” menu technology, many major companies are now heavily invested in catering to individual wants.
So, if you don’t happen to have 300 million dollars on hand, can your bar or restaurant enhance the personalization of each guests’ experience? Absolutely!
Technology will definitely be beneficial in this effort, but so will focusing on human sentimentality—making real connections with your guests. With those two factors in mind, we’ll explore 3 key moments in the guest experience you can home in on to personalize the guest experience in your business: the order, atmosphere, and engagement.
1. The Order
Many different pieces of tech exist now that can track guests’ orders, preferences, allergies, emails, visit frequency, and more—oftentimes in the form of POS systems.
Larger operations and venues in heavily populated cities can especially benefit from this method of customer data management. With so many people coming in and out, you can’t really expect your staff to remember every detail offhand.
Regardless of why a business decides to use it, a main benefit of the tech is in making people feel like a regular the very next time they visit. Knowing someone’s drink of choice or favorite app is a great way to make them comfortable and welcomed from the start. Prepare that drink before they’ve even looked at the menu, or ask if they’d like to go with the app they had last time or try something new.
It also helps in your marketing efforts after their visit. For example, someone orders a scallop appetizer and shrimp entrée? You know you’ve got a seafood lover on your hand who is far more likely to engage with an email or ad promoting a seafood special.
2. The Atmosphere
The ambiance of your venue is becoming more important than ever as the popularity of ordering in continues to grow. It gives people a reason to leave their homes and visit your location, making it possible to upsell and entice them to stay longer. It’s also a vital piece of the guest experience because it expresses who you are as a brand and has the potential to draw in crowds of like-minded patrons.
This means that every touch point of your space, from the furniture and décor to the music and entertainment, must work together in a brand-consistent way that feels both natural and logical in design. Background music, for example, can make or break the vibe of a restaurant—deterring guests when done poorly, but WOWing them when done right.
Innovative technology exists to enhance the audio/video qualities and it starts with what’s playing on your TV screens. While many bars and restaurants are still currently wasting their screens with muted news highlights or Food Network reruns, venues like Dave & Busters, Nacho Daddy and more have upgraded to music videos on theirs. They use Control Play to easily schedule custom music video playlists for particular dayparts when different crowds come in.
Playing the right music for the right people at the right time brings a personalized feel to your atmosphere that’s a big step-up from simply turning on the radio or playing random songs from someone’s phone.
3. The Engagement
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, engaging your guests with real human connection is a personalized guest experience that makes hospitality what it is. Yes, technology will give you the tools to make these connections more effectively, but it largely boils down to your people. This means hiring the right people and training your staff—or possibly re-training them—to go a step above the regular service to which many of us are accustomed.
Smiling, eye contact, and a genuinely warm greeting are key to making that first impression and lasting connection. It can seem so obvious, but it falls by the wayside all-too-often.
The second important area of personalized engagement is using a guest’s name. Even without customer data management software, there are ways to learn someone’s name. You could ask them straight-up, sure, but usually a proper introduction of yourself will lead them into telling you their name, as well. There’s also the fact that many people pay their bill with a credit card, which gives servers a chance to glance at the name and use it when saying goodbye; “Thank you, Mrs. Jones, it was a pleasure serving you tonight.”
Whether through innovative restaurant technology or just a keen sense for making connections, the more you focus on personalization, the more brand loyalty you’ll start to see in your guests. Their order, your atmosphere, and the staff/guest engagement are three key areas that can be personalized to enhance guest experiences.