Mobile technology is the top digital disruptor in business today. ‘Future-proofing’ by embracing mobile apps is crucial for the survival of businesses – big and small.

For the hospitality industry, mobile apps are quickly transforming not only the way a business is managed, but also the customer experience and how they interact and communicate with it. A recent Deloitte report predicted digital disruption will create significant change in the hospitality industry within the next two years. In a country with a very high smartphone penetration rate, Australian hospitality business owners who are not already thinking ‘mobile’ are at risk of being left behind.

Device of choice

Market research by Gartner shows mobile devices are quickly becoming the go-to device for content consumption and communication, with PCs increasingly reserved for more complex tasks. In developed economies such as Australia’s, multi-device households are ‘the norm’, with tablets growing at the fastest rate of any computing device. By 2018, Gartner predicts more than 50 percent of mobile device users will go directly to a tablet or smartphone device for all online searches and activity. Further, research by Yahoo-owned mobile analytics firm, Flurry, showed that globally, mobile app use was up 76 percent at the end of 2014. Further, 42 percent of all restaurant searches in Australia are now originating from mobile devices.

This presents a clear opportunity for hospitality business owners to improve business productivity, capture more sales and build stronger relationships with current and potential customers.

Better business management

By utilising mobile apps within venues, business owners can improve workplace efficiency, accountability and the management of employees.

Many hospitality business owners, including those who own multiple venues or who typically telework, are already realising the benefits of business productivity apps to assist their daily workflow. For example, by making the accounting and reporting functions mobile, business owners and managers can process requests and track important sales data remotely.

Apps that are specifically useful for the hospitality industry include ShiftNote and ShiftPlanning for roster management, Xero and MYOB for accounting, CanGrade as a full-service hiring platform and Memonic for collaboration with managers.

Whether they realise it or not, many hospitality business owners are already benefiting from mobile integrations; they make the running and management of a business much more efficient. For example, ImPOS has integrated with a number of accounting platforms such as MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks to make accounting and payroll quicker, easier and available whenever and wherever via mobile technology.

Improved efficiency and increased sales

The popularity of mobile devices has led to the emergence of m-commerce, where customers can conduct commercial transactions on their phone.

For example, customers can now order a coffee remotely with Beat the Q or book a table using Dimmi. They can open and close a bar tab without having to hand over their credit card through Aston Club, or create a delivery order with just a few clicks through Menulog.

M-commerce can also assist in capturing sales that may otherwise be lost – whether that be through human error or the deterrent of long queues.

Increased customer loyalty

Apps are fundamentally changing the way businesses interact with new and existing customers, and vice versa. Ultimately, mobile apps have brought restaurants and cafes closer to the customer and have transformed the customer experience.

Large hospitality venues and restaurant chains are using mobile apps as an effective sales channel. With its own mobile app, brands can increase speed of service delivery, improve operations, connect with guests, improve satisfaction and build loyalty; with the ultimate result improving profits. We are aware of several restaurant and caf brands that are currently in the process of developing their own mobile app. A good example of a successful app for the hospitality industry would be Broadsheet’s Melbourne Directory app, which features over 500 profiles of the city’s best cafes and restaurants. 

From a marketing perspective, mobile apps enable venues to communicate to users directly, by sending push notifications informing them of news and special promotions and offers. Adding specials that are exclusive to app users can help with the allure of ‘exclusivity,’ and a stronger customer base that is ‘loyal’ to the brand.

Ability to attract new customers

Consumers are increasingly turning to mobile apps such as Zomato to identify restaurant and caf ‘hot spots’ and read reviews of venues before making decisions on where to eat, particularly when they’re in unfamiliar areas. This of course opens up a whole new can of worms for business owners around the importance of managing its reputation online.

Mobile apps enable business owners to reach new customers, optimise table use, reduce labour costs and promote specials during slow periods – ultimately increasing profits. We have seen many savvy hospitality business owners recognise these benefits and be quick to utilise mobile apps to improve their business bottom line. As always, it’s important to adapt to survive.

Sean O’Meara is founder and CEO at ImPOS

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