Hospitality – It doesn’t start, or finish, at the door.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]It used to be fairly simple – you welcomed your guests at the door, did your best to please them while they were on the premises, and bade them farewell at the end of their visit, hoping you’d done a good enough job to persuade them to return. Sure, you did your best to advertise your bar, restaurant or café to the community you served, but it was “coarse” advertising, vying for attention with all sorts of other products and services. You would, if you were attentive enough, learn to recognise regulars, and let them know that you appreciated their continued patronage, but your only opportunity to converse with them was when they were actually on the premises. Being a true host, and not a mere vendor, was always a struggle.

Today that is all changing, as contemporary point-of-sale (POS) systems, together with Smart phone technology and the social media, are transforming the way hospitality businesses communicate with, and relate to their patrons.

To be fair, much of the heavy lifting for this revolution was done years before the arrival of the iPhone and the explosion of social media. The credit card brought with it a number of collateral changes. It was a far more convenient means of paying, and receiving payment, for a wide range of services, including entertainment.

But crucially, by tendering a credit card, instead of “coin of the realm”, patrons were also (whether or not they considered the matter) choosing to identify themselves formally to the payee. For a few decades the implications of this went unrealised, but when the smart phone and the social media arrived, they inherited a society comfortable with, and habituated to forms of payment that identified them – and generally willing to share its identity even more, if it made having more fun easier. If you doubt how profound this shift is, take a look at a few Sopranos episodes, where the need to evade the law has characters using 60s-style pay phones, paying for things with wads of 60s-style cash, and carefully “grooming” their credit card usage to simulate that of a law-abiding citizen.

Hospitality leading the way

Hospitality businesses have been among the leaders in exploiting the marketing synergies inherent in the social media revolution. Where in the late 1900s they were content to simply process a customer’s payment, today each payment, whether by card or, increasingly, by contactless transaction with an iPhone, is an opportunity to engage with that customer way beyond the confines of your venue. From simple SMS messages reminding patrons, should they be in the vicinity, that it’s Happy Hour, to extended conversations on social media, these are radically different ways of relating to your customers.

Smart venue-operators are setting up their POS to create patron databases and integrate with the social media platforms their patrons use, enabling conversations that transcend the traditional style of advertising. They are creating innovative loyalty rewards schemes, coordinated through the POS, that entice patrons not simply with financial reward, but with the simple gratification that comes when you walk through the door of a favourite venue and are not only recognised, but wished a happy birthday (if that’s what it is) and rewarded with a free birthday drink.

If you’d like to know more about how your POS can be used to harness these important new marketing methods, call and speak to you Bepoz today.[/vc_column][/vc_row]