Times have changed. The average American looks at his or her phone 125 times a day. With that sort of connectivity in the palm of guests’ hands, the hospitality industry has more opportunities than ever to build business with mobile digital experiences. A national mobile path to purchase study (www.moosetracker.com) reveals that smart phone ownership is at 44%.
It’s easy to appreciate the extra touches that well-run restaurants execute flawlessly, such as those involving highly trained workers who make eye contact, check in frequently, and build relationships. The modern consumer, however, expects more than customer service basics. When evaluating digital priorities, making sure websites are mobile friendly is imperative. This means having a custom mobile site or a mobile-enabled site with links that gives guests the opportunity to read or write reviews as well as check-in for added value.
Guests are increasingly on the go and if restaurants aren’t mobile enabled to check out a menu or read reviews, they may go somewhere else. In fact, 67% of survey respondents state they use a mobile device to read or comment on a brand experience, and 74% seek reviews prior to purchase. The study also reveals that reviews from purchasers or guests are five times more influential than ads. With smartphones in hand, potential guests are looking at businesses and all the competition. The good news is that connecting with customers is getting easier every day.
On the move with mobile advertising
Due to a culture that is perpetually checking in with social media and texting, there are a wide variety of methods available to harness the full power of promotions. Premium ads are available on Facebook that guarantee visibility and boast excellent targeting. Businesses can hone in on fans, as well as interests, plus people who are not already fans. Twitter similarly offers targeted advertising called “promoted tweets” that blast out additional exposure to a limited geography and targets people who don’t follow you.
Text message programs are also viable considerations especially for the most loyal guests. According to the study, an impressive 43% of men and women have opted in for text messages that deliver value or savings.
As smartphones become more ubiquitous, offering complimentary Wi-Fi is one way operators can instantly change an experience. Since every smartphone is constantly searching for signals, providing a free connection encourages guests to linger and/or return. Having a guests’ smartphone identify the business signal only to be denied could be viewed as rude, especially when it really doesn’t cost anything to be hospitable.
Connect at the table to complete the loop
Real time has also arrived for menu management and ordering. Many chains are rolling out POS/tabletop menu systems like eTab (www.e-tab.com). These systems allow operators to change menu items easily and appeal to customers for their ability to remove wait times for placing food orders. Another benefit to tabletop POS systems is building a rapport with customers through surveys that can provide feedback on everything from service to food choices. The more criticism or praise operators take in, the stronger customer service becomes.
It’s all about real time dialogue — and as consumer expectations for real time connectivity grows, a fully integrated POS menu system will be standard for both chains and independents. Communication has come full circle. While eye contact and personal charm still go along way, it’s necessary to close the gap with mobile connectivity in order to be ahead of the game.
What was your first job?
Busboy at an Italian restaurant at 14.
Who inspires you?
Great entrepreneurs who started small.
What are your hobbies?
Playing music and bike riding.
What technologies excite you?
Custom software solutions.
Any sage advice you can share?
There’s a reason why first generation immigrants succeed here. They have to — so don’t give up or take the easy way out.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
This is pretty much my dream job running my own business and creating a great work environment.
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Continuing to have fun every day.
What three people would you invite to lunch?
I’d like to discuss story development with Ernest Hemmingway, personal development with Mahatma Ghandi and be insulted by Steve Jobs.
What is your favorite book/movie?
Book – The Tiger by John Vallant. Movie – Midnight Run.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Norty Cohen is CEO/founder of Moosylvania, an independent advertising agency. His team at Moosylvania has been a part of programming for Quiznos, Little Caesar’s, Papa Murphy’s, and others.