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Why an always-on commitment to guest experience is a business’ secret weapon

  • Written by Paul Hadida, General Manager APAC at SevenRooms

Despite the challenges it has faced in recent years, Australia’s hospitality industry is vibrant, innovative, and competitive. Australia is home to tens of thousands of renowned restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotel F&B establishments, which means establishing a point of difference based on price and produce is hard. Today, one of the biggest advantages businesses can develop is through their guest experience. While that’s not necessarily new ‘news’, many venues think the guest experience starts and ends when a guest arrives at their venue. In reality, true guest experience starts long before and lasts long after a guest occupies a seat.

Today, guests prioritise venues that do the basics, brilliantly. Think of common pain points. For example, have you ever received a reservation availability alert for your favourite venue but weren’t able to secure the reservation in time? Or wished you had a way to contact a restaurant that doesn’t list their phone number - becoming more and more common - to plan a surprise for a loved one? Or what about receiving real, tangible perks for recommending a local restaurant to your family and friends - something you’re doing already? While they sound like small, inconsequential, or obvious questions, they matter. And they’re influencing customer loyalty.

As cost-of-living pressures squeeze household spending, two in three (68%) Aussies are prioritising quality rather than quantity when it comes to their visitation to restaurants, bars, and cafes. To convince them to spend up, they want more than a meal, they want an experience. They want to be rewarded for their patronage and have better access to the venue - both before, during, and after their visit. To help Australia’s hospitality industry provide the experiences their guests demand, remember, and return for, SevenRooms has launched features to enhance the guest experience.

Guests now want personalised communication with and access to venues, and to be rewarded for the custom. The venues that provide that level of guest experience will be better placed to meet their needs. Take reservations, for example. Missing out on a reservation is part and parcel of the dining experience unfortunately - especially in a market home to so many phenomenal, in-demand venues. Restaurants cannot guarantee a reservation, but those who can guarantee to notify their customers when one is available can improve loyalty, experience and therefore, revenue.

Priority Alerts helps venues manage who they send automated reservation availability notifications so they can prioritise their most valuable guests. Rather than simply spamming their entire waitlist or simply notifying high-spenders, SevenRooms enables venues to instead strategically prioritise, segment, and notify their guests - whether a VIP, loyalty member, frequent or recent diner, local, high spender, or someone else. Ultimately, they can build more personalised, targeted relationships with more customers, improving loyalty and revenue as a result.

For all the convenience and ease of online platforms, apps, and widgets, consumers still want - and sometimes need - to pick up the phone to a venue in certain instances. Unfortunately, many venues no longer list a direct phone number, which can deter certain guests and see those venues miss out on important revenue. Private Line was created to give important guests an easier, faster way to get in touch with their favourite restaurants.

Through Private Line, restaurants can offer their high-value guests an exclusive messaging line that can be used to quickly and conveniently contact their team. Whether a guest is looking for a last-minute reservation, has a special or unique request, or needs to inquire about information they can’t find online, restaurants no longer miss out on opportunities to connect with the guests that matter most. Despite automation and contactless solutions booming, this human access and connection is essential - and can be a strong driver of word-of-mouth.

According to SevenRooms research, four in five Aussies still rely on word-of-mouth referrals to discover new venues. Yet, without an easy way to capture this untapped demand, restaurants have traditionally left dollars on the table. Through Word-of-Mouth Referrals, SevenRooms automatically creates personal referral links for every diner - shared through post-meal surveys and automated email campaigns - making it simple for guests to share with their networks and be rewarded with perks they’ll want to earn and use. Restaurants can tap into this high-value marketing channel, rewarding loyalty and ensuring exceptional experiences for newcomers and regulars that translate into more sales and profits.

As consumers become more cautious in their spending and the industry becomes more competitive, standing out becomes harder and harder. If venues follow the crowd, guest loyalty becomes harder to earn and easier to lose. However, those who focus on providing value and building relationships through their guest experience will be better placed to establish an advantage today, and long into the future.

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