Location-based marketing that promised to leverage online platforms to promote physical restaurants and bars, began with “check-ins”. It all started with Foursquare giving the initial kick. Quickly catching the fire was Facebook Places, Google Places, Yelp and more. Back then it was truly a cool idea for marketers and owners to know who is in their restaurant and reward them accordingly. But honestly, it never took off…
2014 saw range devices taking baby steps into the hospitality industry. Three years back, only the big fishes in the industry like Starwood hotels, The Marriott and James Hotels were adopting range devices to deliver an engaging experience to their guests. But in 2017, with the explosion of supply of range devices, functionality has gone up to the point where they are within reach for even small restaurants.
Beacons are small battery-powered devices that use Bluetooth low energy signals to connect with other smart devices. When a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone or tablet comes in the range of a beacon, the two devices can communicate. Customers do not even need downloaded apps! All they need is a Bluetooth enabled smartphone. Once in the range of a range device, these smartphones receive push notifications about deals, offers and more.
With range devices it makes the dining experience a little more ENGAGING, and a lot more MEMORABLEIf you spend a few hours at your favorite bar or restaurant, you would have certainly experienced being exposed to dozens of advertisements but not noticing them. Things such as – a coaster with an energy drink logo, a neon sign for a liquor brand, a beer brand’s schedule of upcoming football games and much more. Like banner blindness in the real world, people barely register the brands they’ve seen, much less engage with them. But that’s changing with beacons!
Restaurants use this technology in a different way to engage guests and increase repeat visits –
1. Marketing messaging
The obvious benefit to using this technology is its ability to push out coupons, deals and marketing messages. Imagine a group of friends moving around on the streets trying to decide where to have lunch and all of a sudden, one of them is alerted to an offer of unlimited cold drinks with any purchase at your restaurant.
This kind of interaction might obviously influence their decision to visit your restaurant. This value addition is critical for you when you’re looking to rise above the competition in a highly crowded space.
2. Delivering tailored menu to loyal customers Every restaurant owner including you loves a loyal customer and range devices make it easier to reward them. You could create a special menu or a secret dish for your loyal customer based on their previous orders and selections. When they enter your restaurant, push a notification to them letting them know what’s special on the menu that they would love.
3. Let your customers know how crowded the restaurant is before they arrive Keeping customers informed about how busy your restaurant is at a particular time is one way of cutting down on the time they need to wait. Deploying range devices around your restaurant will, in turn, provide real-time information on how many people are actually dining inside at a given point in time.
You could also leverage the range devices to notify your customers with an estimate of the restaurant traffic on the hourly basis based on the learning from previous days.
4. Custom pricing for different customers When it comes to winning over a customer, it’s not a bad idea to play with dynamic pricing. You could deliver incentive pricing to someone who’s never been to your restaurant. Push a notification to them about this exclusive incentive pricing.
Not just for new customers, but you could also notify loyal customers about their 7th free sandwich!
5. Get a better insight into your restaurant and bar traffic It’s always an advantage to optimize with data. You would surely have your busy vs slow days. With the footfall data from range devices, you can efficiently manage your staff and services.
Maybe you do not really need 5 bar staff on the second floor on a Tuesday, or you need an extra attender around the tables closer to the entry gate.
6. Allow guests to make mobile payments One of the challenges in a dining experience is waiting for the bill. What if you could just let your diners pay online? Beacons can allow them to pay their bill right from their phones by directing them to a secure restaurant-branded mobile site that collects their payment method.
A lot of studies reveal that it’s much more convenient for customers to go up and pay rather than waiting for the bill. Why not just smoothen the experience?