Customers Want to Find Table Spaces, Not Become Databases

Posted: 2015.09.15

New advances in technology have changed the way that we communicate, sleep, date, and even eat. Calling your neighbourhood Italian restaurant to make a reservation is quickly becoming obsolete. OpenTable, an extremely popular application for making reservations, has conducted a survey into the behaviors of more than 6,000 of its users throughout several large American metropolitan areas, and inquired as to how they used the service before, during, and after a meal. Although the findings were interesting, diverse, and eye-opening, the one thing that really stuck out was that consumers are always hungry for more technology.

More tech for casual dining, less for high-end

A resounding 76% of the respondents said they thought technology could play a "somewhat bigger" or "much bigger role" at limited-service restaurants. These are mainly fast food or takeout places that people go to for a quick bite, and not really for any other experiences that we might associate with a great night out on the town. It is easy to see how technology could play a bigger role here. You log in, place your order from one of the pre-assembled meals, pay by credit card, and come in and grab it in 10 minutes.

On the other end, just 12% of the respondents thought the same for fine-dining. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as most high end restaurants are really just selling you the experience of being pampered. It would certainly take away from their image if they allowed you to order a fine Chianti with caviar via your mobile phone, stop by, pick it up, and shell out $300 dollars for your meal.

Diners want restaurants to be more aware of their wishes before they walk in

Most of the respondents said that they engaged with the application on some level before visiting a restaurant, mostly to make reservations. Other common activities that they partook in were finding the eateries, looking at their menus, and reading reviews. What was surprising is that many were clamouring for the restaurants to take more of their information before a meal. For example, 64% said they wanted seating preference allotment, and 43% wanted special dates like birthdays to be made known to the staff. Other wishes included who to give the check to, and allergy awareness.

What this data shows us - It shows us that no matter which industry you are in, young, tech-savvy customers are looking for a more personalized user-experience, even in real life. Targeted marketing on the internet, tailor-made local search results, and exclusive discounts based on shopping loyalty are meant to address this. But look at what they are asking for with dining experiences. They want personalization down to their birthday and allergies. In order to stand out above your competitors, you need to tailor your strategy to individual customers.

Perhaps the most striking of the statistics throughout the whole thing is that 56% of the customers directly stated that they don't want applications for single restaurants. Most responded that they would be very unlikely or unlikely to download the application. Customers prefer not to be a "database" for marketers.

The takeaway: Customers are more interested in aggregate data, and this shows in their desires to not download individual apps for restaurants. They'd rather have a choice of potential places, and the flexibility to choose which ones they want based on reviews, menu price, and atmosphere. Also, it shows that the bulk of your effort needs to be placed into getting people in the door because once they are seated they don't care much for technology. Your customers don't want to be just another target for your advertising, and this true across all mobile applications. You need to give them what they want, and don't treat them like just another piece of data.

What you should take away from this study is that getting a more in-depth look at how people are using technology can give you a huge edge on your competition. By asking people what they want, you know to skip that $10,000 application, and maybe cut-back on purchasing tablets for each table, and instead funnel that money into improving your online presence, and appeal to potential diners.

What's the best way to find all this out? Custom Intercept Solutions helps you get right to what your customers want by asking them at the point of sale. There's no substitute for real actionable data when it comes to improving your business. Professionally administered in-store surveys will help you understand what your customers are thinking, and what they want to see from your business to keep them coming back.