The night-time industry is constantly evolving. With technology improving and changing at such a rapid rate, it’s no wonder this is having a knock-on impact for night-time owners and managers.
So how could technology affect your venue – and is it for the better, or worse?
Can you remember the last time you paid for a round of drinks with cash? Card payments are rarely penalised with minimum spend limits these days and, with contactless and mobile payment options rising in popularity, it seems cash might become a thing of the past.
Ted Andrassy, Bar Manager at Northern Monk Refectory says: “My bar went cashless earlier this year. Customer transactions vastly sped up, and not doing the end-of-night cashing up saves us time, as does not having to consider having change on site or getting money to the banks. Plus, it’s a safer working environment as there is no cash on site.”
Going cashless might also have a positive impact on your insurance premium, as you are minimising risks associated with keeping large sums of money on-site and transporting it to the bank.
Serving fast food from the comfort of your kitchen
Companies such as Deliveroo are making it much easier for venues to make additional revenue. Online food orders make it easier for kitchens to stay profitable and reach new audiences who wouldn’t necessarily visit a bar or restaurant as a mid-week treat. This allows night-time venues to add a whole new dimension to their business – their customers can have the night out experience from the comfort of their own sofa.
Serve it yourself
Another technology trend changing the way guests eat out is technology-driven table service. In some venues customers no longer need to wait for staff to take their order – they simply order and pay from their phone or a provided iPad when ready, and wait for their food to arrive. This is not only more convenient for the customer, but it’s also more effective for venues. Staff can then be utilised more efficiently, giving a bit of breathing space during busier periods.
The nightclub industry is also getting in on the action. Cutting edge technology allows customers to pour their own drinks (using lots of tech to make sure it’s accurate and customers can’t end up pouring a pint of wine!) This is fun and unique for customers, and also saves money on bartenders.
The rise of the robots
Okay, this one’s a long way off yet. But some hotels are already trialling the use of robots that can use speech recognition and AI to deal with customer queries. Will it be long before night-time venues are using robots as receptionists, door staff or even behind the bar?
A slightly less extreme version is the chatbot. Chatbots can be implemented on a venue’s website to automatically answer common customer queries. This provides the customer with a swift, efficient response and saves staff time manually answering queries time and again.
Understanding the customer journey
It’s no longer enough to just guess who your customers are. Venues are increasingly using technology to define their audiences, enabling them to promote their business more specifically to the right people. Knowing customers inside out also helps venues to understand exactly what their customers want – so they can review and change their offering accordingly to make the most profit.
Carlene Jackson, the CEO of Brighton-based tech company Cloud9 Insight, says: “Companies are realising that it’s increasingly important to understand who their customers are, as well as their preferences, and to treat them as individuals. In order to do this, companies need to understand their customers’ journeys and ensure all parts of a business are joined up. This enables them to serve the customer with consistently high levels of service that meet their brand’s values.
Modern business intelligence tools can be easy for non-technical executives to use, helping gain insight into the mass of data that is often held by leisure businesses. The use of mobile technology is allowing customer-facing employees to deliver exceptional experiences that lead to improved loyalty.”
So, for example, you know your audience is predominantly mid-twenties groups who generally only tend to go “out out” every month or so. Why not arrange a 90s club night or meet-and-greet with a local influencer to attract them to your venue? If you know your audience is an older demographic who prefer beer and rock music, then you’d need to tweak your strategy!
Will virtual reality help or hinder the industry?
A virtual reality tour of your hotel, restaurant or bar can help to promote your venue to customers, almost like a ‘try before you buy’. This is a positive aspect of the rise of VR.
But, on the flip side, there’s talk of live entertainment being screened via VR headset. This means people can watch sport or theatre from the comfort of their own sofa. Will it be long before VR nights out start to take over the trend, offering friends chance to connect, “meet up” and experience a buzzing venue without actually leaving their house (and their cheap pre-drinks)?
Though not quite VR (yet…) some nightclubs are already offering interactive, immersive displays to excite and interest customers. Interactive tabletops and wall displays give clubbers a new way to experience nightlife. A customer puts their bottle down and colourful waves ripple across the table. It’s not exactly earth-shattering, but it’s the very start of immersive experiences yet to come.
Making life admin easier
As an insurance broker, we often discuss the importance of keeping and maintaining up-to-date documentation. From a risk management perspective, you should always be able to refer back to evidence of checking customer’s IDs, clearing glasses, accidents, security checks and much more.
Opsbase Chief Commercial Officer Michael Douglas says: “Out of sight back-office processes – like issue reporting and compliance documentation – are often still paper based. With many years of expertise in the industry, we’ve taken these challenges and developed an app-based software to solve them. By digitalising checklists, you ensure that you can run your business compliantly, knowing they are getting done when they are supposed to by the person in charge of completing them and have an accessible history of them upon inspection.
OpsBase software is designed for busy restaurants bars, hotels and retailers to manage day-to-day operations on the move, report any issues with the click of a button, and communicate with their whole team across multiple sites.”
Will technology impact insurance for the night-time industry?
The insurance industry is evolving to incorporate different technologies, ultimately trying to provide the best customer experience. Insurers and insurance brokers will focus on implementing new technologies whilst also retaining a personal relationship with customers.
Herve Mazenod, Managing Director of Insurance and Investment at Gobeyond Partners says: “In recent research we undertook at Gobeyond Partners on the topic of customer experience and digital transformation, there was an overall feeling of optimism. In fact, 70% of insurance firms expected their revenues would increase in the next 12 months. Despite this optimism, insurance was also the most concerned sector when it came to technology, with 95% of respondents expressing that they were concerned with the impact that the current speed of technological change will have on their growth.
We believe that those who will be the most successful will need to look at their business processes through a more human lens. We want to put human experience at the heart of everything. Those who succeed in this will ultimately get ahead.”
Those of you who work with NDML know our priority is ensuring our customers get the very best cover. We pride ourselves on our great customer service, and our strong relationship with our clients. So no matter how much technology changes and evolves, we will always pride ourselves on providing personalised service.
Have you tried new technology at your venue?
We’d love to know how new technologies are transforming your venue. Get in touch with us and let’s start a conversation.