Part 1
The Future of Hospitality: Bars, Restaurants, and Technology
Today, we'll be serving up our thoughts on how bars and restaurants should utilise tech to improve the guest experience as the industry re-opens.
Suggested pairing: a Best of Both World's Rosé
How can we find the sweet spot – the happy medium between adopting innovative and useful tech while still ensuring a familiar and personable guest experience? The right solution should allow you to optimise your processes so you can focus on what matters most – refreshing drinks, delicious food, and a great experience for your staff and guests.

When COVID first hit and lockdowns were enforced, bars and restaurants had to look for seemingly temporary solutions to stay afloat (while also adhering to mandatory health regulations). Technology played a key role, with a mad scramble to initiate take-out systems, touch-free ordering and payments, and partnerships with third-party delivery services.

As these solutions were implemented, an industry steeped in tradition and in-person experience had to learn a new way of doing business. Guests had to learn how to adapt and use new technology if they wanted to ensure their favorite spots didn't shutter indefinitely. There was a lot of worry as to how an industry with so many businesses dependent on the unique in-person experience could survive, much less come out the other side with a better way of doing business.

Now – as the world hopes to find a balance in re-opening – many businesses are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (while we collectively mourn those businesses lost to the pandemic). Vaccines continue to roll out, and – with the "end" in sight – we can't help but beg the question:
Should bar owners and restaurateurs try to return to how things were pre-COVID, or should we use this as an opportunity to embrace innovation, adapt, and improve?

Here at ordr, we thought we'd propose a not-quite-so radical idea: why can't we do both?
In order to adapt to a changed society, why can't businesses harness technology not just for technology's sake, but to improve upon internal processes and enhance the guest experience as a whole?

On top of that, if done smartly, the right combination of tech and personable hospitality can greatly improve the bottom line. The right solution(s) should allow you to optimise your processes so you can focus on what matters most – refreshing drinks, delicious food, and a great experience for your guests (and staff).

So how can we find the sweet spot – the happy medium between adopting innovative and useful tech while still ensuring a familiar and personable guest experience? We have a few things to consider:
1
Re-examine the meaning of good service and guest experience
For years, the industry has considered good service to mean personable interaction between attentive staff and guests – no tech, just people. Traditional, yes, but not really sustainable in a society that has adopted technology in every other aspect of our lives. Is it good service to have to flag down a server if you want another drink or appetiser or want to pay your bill, just so you can interact face-to-face with staff? Or to leave your party and wait in line at a crowded bar to order and pay for your drink? Where is a personable interaction most meaningful, and where can things become more efficient?

Good service is somewhat subjective, therefore it should be customisable. Both front-of-house staff and the guest should be able to tailor the experience to meet their respective needs for a seamless end-to-end guest experience. We'll dive deeper and further explore the notion of "good service" in our next post.
2
Choose tech that is flexible, scalable, and can mitigate pain points of both staff and guests
Tech that can be tailored to your operational and service needs is important, as needs can change from location-to-location and season-to-season. You may do things outside a bit differently than you do inside, so being able to use a well-rounded system that you can tailor to shifting needs will make your life a lot easier.

Often, bars and restaurants end up stacking tech systems on top of each other as their POS doesn't fulfill every need, and things can get messy. Look for a solution that isn't just coming out with one-off features when needed, but is looking ahead with a bigger-picture mindset in improving the entire experience (on the staff and guest sides) as a whole.
5
Remember to look at the big picture
Utilising tech doesn't mean losing real people—this is often a misconception in innovation. In bars and restaurants, you only have room for so much staff (too many bartenders behind the bar, for example, just gets chaotic). The key is to utilise tech to optimise the way your staff works – if tech can handle a majority of the somewhat unmemorable busywork, then staff can focus their time on establishing more meaningful interactions with guests. Piers Laverick – Bar Manager of Lervig Local Brew Pub – has some great thoughts on how he focuses and will split his bar service, which you can find (in Norwegian) here and (in English) here.
Creating the perfect guest experience – especially as we move forward into what can be called a "new age" in the industry – can be a delicate balance. We don't want to lose the specialness – dare we say, "magic" – of going out for food and drinks, but we need to adapt to a society moving forward with changing expectations. At ordr, we've decided maybe it's as simple as this:
We're not going back to the way things were, but instead are bringing everything we loved most about the guest experience into the future.
I think bars and restaurants need ordr-type initiatives to improve guest satisfaction and reinvent themselves. For thousands of years, everyone has done things exactly the same way. Now when the rest of society is moving on with new technology, improving lives, simplifying and enhancing guest satisfaction, we need to do so, as well.
— Erik Tronbol, Delicatessen
In our next post, we'll be diving into the meaning of good service and guest experience – look for it soon!
In the meantime, you can give us your (anonymous) thoughts on how/if COVID has impacted your standards for restaurant and bar service via our short survey.
Want to see how some bars and restaurants are utilising our tech?
Check out our case studies
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