Customer Growth Priority Number One

By  Abigail A. Lorden, Editor-in-Chief | October 14, 2011

HT just wrapped up its third and final executive conference of the year. The Restaurant Executive Summit, held Sept. 14-16, 2011 in Chicago, focused on bringing together top executives from across the restaurant enterprise, including finance, IT, ops and marketing, to foster inter-departmental collaboration and growth. Quite possibly at no greater time in the business environment has collaboration been so important. As the digital revolution rapidly changes B2C communication, there’s emerged an imperative for marketing and technology executives to partner.

When we get this varied group of executives in the room, what can we find out about the pace of the industry? Attracting more customers is emerging as a top priority for many restaurant executives. HT conducted a live poll, via text message, of its audience of VP and C-level execs and 43% said bringing more customers to their establishments was priority number one in the coming year (up from 37% at the 2010 Summit). The number of restaurants who are looking to streamline operations and find efficiencies (read, spend less of their resources) was down from last year (14% in 2011, compared to 24% in 2010). Also good news, 14% of companies are looking to invest internally to build company resources this year (up from just 5% of Summit attendees in 2010).

While the focus on customers can emerge less muddied by the general economic climate, the method of communication is growing increasingly complex. Social media was the method of choice for attracting these customers for 44% of Summit attendees, beating out traditional radio/TV/print marketing at a rate of two-to-one.

The September 2011 issue's cover story is a great example of how e-commerce and technology can partnered; in this case, the executives at Marriott International have collaborated to create an award winning website in Marriott.com. I encourage you to share your collaboration success stories with HT, and join us as we break down barriers in 2012.

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