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Sponsor’s comment: Wi-Q

By Patience Tagborlo, head of partnership solutions, Wi-Q There is no doubt that technology, in particular app technology, has transformed the customer experience in F&B over the last five years – but what about the next five years? Two years ago, Wi-Q

predicted that apps wouldn’t deliver what consumers would demand, and we’re already starting to see a shift. A Kantar/ ITR survey showed a global app uninstall rate of 38% in the first day and 89% over 12 months. Why? Complex registration processes, battery consumption, freezing and just pure app overload. From a venue’s point of view, capital costs in implementing an app can be huge, updates can be costly and resource-heavy and integration opportunities are limited. In five years’ time, consumers

will expect their mobile ordering and payment experience to be as simple as connecting to Wi- Fi. They’ll expect the technology to come to them as soon as they arrive at a venue, and provide a seamless, user-centric experience. Those expectations will include language, dietary and allergy-specific menus, bill-splitting and a choice of payment options. Expectations from the hospitality industry are growing too, with venues asking for all of the above for their guests and technology that will integrate and evolve with their business. It’s our belief that only

an HTML solution can shape around the industry, easily evolve with customer demand, seamlessly integrate and deliver as a SaaS model without large cap-ex costs.

20 | Technology Prospectus 2017

keeping and discover the surrounding neigh- bourhood – it’s simply too expensive to integrate the F&B ordering solution with the hotel’s other systems. And it certainly isn’t alone. “Guest recognition in hotels is still a challenge in many hotel properties as property management systems and restaurant point of sale systems are not connected,” notes Agel.

BETTER TRANSPARENCY Yet, it’s a problem that’s being recognised by hoteliers, many of whom are only too aware of the benefits of an integrated ordering system. “It would make the assembly and gathering of data much easier and make everything much more transparent,” says Taylor. “My view is that any hotel is going to be interested in a solution that allows them to pull everything together through one system, see very trans- parently what is happening in their business and what they need to deliver in future to give that stunning guest satisfaction.” Agel adds: “Pulling together more F&B revenue streams (mini bar, hotel bar, hotel restaurant) will help the hotelier provide a more unified guest experience, increase revenue and integrate F&B processes with hotel operations,” he says. Tagborlo adds that she has been surprised at how reticent hospitality businesses have been to invest in this sort of technology up until now. “It’s interesting that the industry still sees technology as a capital expense when it’s potentially the biggest revenue booster hospitality has ever had access to,” she says. Wi-Q hopes to change the paradigm. “In Jan- uary 2017 we will be launching a product that has been developed specifically for the hotel

industry,” says Tagborlo. “It’s a world-first cloud technology solution that will enable any size hotel to exceed customer demand, integrate departments and access new revenue streams.” Among these will be room service, which, when digitised, offers big benefits to both operators and guests. From the guest perspec- tive, it meets expectations, as the customers of today are used to ordering online while at home, and is quicker and more accurate than a phone-based system. “A digital solution allows customers to order whenever they like without having to rely on busy staff to pick up the phone,” explains Jacyn Heavens, founder and chief executive of POS company Epos Now. “Additionally, you can keep your guest informed about the progress of the order.” Meanwhile, the operational benefits are immense in adding upsell and revenue streams, automating processes and building valuable consumer data. “Plus, we know that when consumers have access to easy ordering and payment facilities, they are likely to order more and more often,” Tagborlo adds. Yet, there are things that need to be got right. “In-room is a very particular service in that guests are essentially ordering from their bedroom so the transaction needs to be a per- sonal experience,” Tagborlo says. “Overcom- ing barriers by allowing customers to choose their language at the start of the transaction is key, and understanding their particular needs, especially with allergy concerns, shows that you want to create an experience unique to them. Overall, by removing human error and engagement barriers, the right technology can enable the perfect guest experience.” That said, Taylor believes it shouldn’t be the

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