Higher Spend and Happier Diners – A Psychological Match

By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | March 16, 2014

Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems

The fourth article in a series on improving revenue and profits from F&B

The French diplomat and gourmand Brillat-Savarin, author of the classic The Physiology of Taste (first published in 1825 and never out of print since), had this to say on dining – “around a single table (one may find) all the modifications which extreme sociability has introduced into our midst: love, friendship, business, speculation, influence… ambition, intrigue.”

It’s no different in our 21st century. Restaurant tables today come with the same array of psychological variables. The dining experience should never be seen to be about food only. This is a dangerous assumption. Customers bring a range of expectations to a dining setting – not all of them conscious – and as these emerge and develop they present opportunities for resourceful front of house staff to bring about that ideal combination of higher spend and happier diners.

Put simply, the essential goal of all dining staff should be to maximize the enjoyment of each customer’s dining experience. The fact that we so rarely see this in practice might be put down to poor supervision or inadequate training. But there’s another more subtle impediment: the belief that diners go to restaurants with the express intention of limiting their spending. This imagined budgetary barrier is a fallacy, the evidence indicates otherwise. Unfortunately it’s a fallacy that too many front of house staff find easy to accept. This automatically stunts their performance, by limiting the options they’re willing to present to a customer and the confidence with which they offer their recommendations. The end result is that everyone suffers – the establishment through lost revenue, the diner through lost potential enjoyment, and the staff member through a loss of professionalism in their own eyes and in the perception of the customer.

This last point, the customer’s perception, is the critical issue here. By second guessing the diner’s expectations, and putting a false and arbitrary limit on their capacity or willingness to spend, the staff member is dictating the level of enjoyment the establishment is prepared to make available to that customer. This is ignorant at best and an insult at worst, and either way, hardly an inducement for customers to come back.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.