How self-serve is transforming the future of hospitality

 

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There’s no avoiding how much the global hospitality industry has been impacted by COVID-19 – and how different it will look in the coming years once this critical economic sector gets back on its feet.

During the pandemic, several years of upcoming digital transformation were, in effect, brought forward to enable hospitality’s customers and workforces to safely interact. Behind-the-scenes things changed massively too; hard-pressed bars, cafes, restaurants, and hotels were all forced into accepting a greater level of card payment, rather than taking cash.

Hospitality businesses learned many benefits and lessons too from paying closer attention to how technology can help them focus on unplanned peaks and troughs in demand, showing how to tackle them. It could be another two to three years before hospitality globally fully recovers; between now and then a slow return to operational success will give way to an evolution of its pre-pandemic normal.

One thing the industry can be certain of is that the technological transformation experienced since March 2020 will remain… and it will grow in importance as the positive outcomes become more important to hospitality’s consumers, suppliers, and providers large and small.

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For example, the public are now used to, and thankful for, many new innovations:

  • App-based service such as interactive online menus, integrated payment, and at-table ordering, has become the default for so many hospitality businesses. Not only does this type of solution free up employees to focus on other roles because they do not need to take orders by hand any longer, it also helps bosses battle current issues with a chronic lack of available hospitality talent.
  • In the past, one of the biggest challenges with eating and drinking out was always splitting the bill with family or friends. Now self-service apps – and handheld POS terminals – can do this fast electronically, ensuring nobody needs to do the maths in their heads.
  • Many restaurants and takeaways have now installed customer-facing display screens – tied to their POS. These provide live updates on orders to those waiting, showing them when their food or drink will be ready.
  • Door-to-door tracking is another area of growth. No longer does a customer need to ring up to find out where their takeout is, or when exactly it will be delivered. Apps linked directly to a POS system can show how much longer it will be before a rider or driver arrives at the door on a live map, even alerting them when they are outside.

It’s not only ordering and serving where things have changed massively. Hospitality businesses of all kinds are now finding they can make much better use of the wealth of data their operations generate. They have experienced how greater analysis of this can revolutionize processes, productivity, and profit:

  • The right cloud-native POS system will harness all manner of data streams and monitor them using artificial intelligence – whether breaking down ingredient costs vs the price to be paid for a drink or dish or knowing what current stock levels are. Such technology is already changing how hospitality operates 24/7.
  • The opportunity to reduce food, drink, and packaging waste – as well as save energy – has also been transformed since 2020. Each is critical to business profitability given soaring costs and inflation, and data can again be utilized here to clearly show what should be bought and when. It can even highlight what equipment or lights should be turned off when not needed. AI within a POS can also predict popular menu items by using historic weather or seasonal data from previous business years.
  • In hotels, smartphones have increasingly become the key to opening bedroom doors, assisting with Covid-19 safety protocols and making contactless check-in and check-out for travelers much less hassle. Once in their room, guests can now also use touchscreens linked directly to the accommodation’s POS to order room service, with these screens showing up-to-date information on what food or drink isn’t available.

If we look further into the future, hospitality will undoubtedly be transformed by deeper levels of automation.

It won’t be uncommon to see robot servers pouring drinks and robotic vacuum cleaners roaming hotel corridors and restaurant floors to clean up. In kitchens, connected machines will take the place of some chefs while feeding data back to the POS about guest demand and stock levels.

Like all sectors in today’s troubled economies, hospitality must find ways to save money. Recessions are on the horizon and the cost-of-living crisis is hitting consumer pockets – so it looks increasingly likely that spending on travel or eating/drinking out will decrease. For all hospitality businesses, adopting and implementing a cloud-native POS will be one step towards tackling such challenges and weathering this storm.

Extenda Retail’s ExtendaGO tablet-based POS solution brings scalability and savings without compromising on digital transformation objectives. And, in times of uncertainty in the hospitality sector, ExtendaGO is here for you with a fully scalable solution around your business.

This fully-featured and comprehensive solution is supported by a powerful web-based back office alongside integrations for easy online ordering and delivery. The beauty of ExtendaGO is it can also be adapted to suit every type of hospitality company, from fast-food delivery to bakeries to fine dining restaurants.

To learn more, book a meeting with our team.

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