Welcome to the era of digital hospitality

April 26, 2021
Abhinav Kapur

Welcome to Part 3 of our series on how to break the third-party delivery flywheel.

In Part 1, we gave a high-level overview of the flywheel, or the tactics that third-parties use to acquire + retain guests. In Part 2, we mapped out the restaurant marketing funnel - the framework for how restaurants can break the flywheel. In this edition, we highlight why breaking the flywheel matters, and why the new era of digital hospitality will lead to deeper, more profitable guest relationships.

My mother-in-law is my inspiration.

In 2002, she founded Amma, an Indian restaurant that pays homage to the food she grew up eating, but elevated with the white tablecloth treatment (complete with tasting menus and a sommelier). In that time, she’s stayed true to the cornerstones of hospitality - making delicious food, touching tables, and creating a great experience for her guests.

The pandemic upended all of that. Touching tables is kinda impossible when no one’s allowed inside 🙃.

Her first thought was to lean further into third-party delivery - a great revenue boost, but with a high cost. Beyond the 20-30% fees on every order, she got very little data, feedback, and insight into the one aspect of the business that kept her going for the past 19 years - her guests.

But instead of living with the status quo, she leaned heavily into digital hospitality, adapting her traditional tactics for the new contactless age. She took people into the kitchen with Instagram, built a new storefront through BentoBox, and (instead of touching tables) used Bikky’s automated text messaging to follow up with guests after every meal. 

She did what she always does - built an emotional connection with her guests through delicious food, a great experience, and thoughtful storytelling. 

Over the past 12 months, we’ve helped numerous operators (not just my mother-in-law lol) adapt to the era of digital hospitality. 

By blending their storytelling with their guest data, we’re helping them build marketing funnels, break the third-party flywheel, and driving higher repeat / incremental orders. Some tactics are simple, like my mother-in-law's text message table-touch. Some go much deeper, like:

  • Using Facebook to convert ~200 third-party guests per month to native online ordering
  • Using email automation so that >50% of guests who convert from third-party reorder through the restaurant’s website, and 35% place 3+ orders
  • Using email automations for new guests to increase order frequency by ~30% in their first two months
  • Using email automations for lapsed guests to 3x the revenue impact without discounting
  • Using email automation to automatically win back guests who switch from native online ordering to third-party delivery (better than shoving postcards in bags!)

In the era of digital hospitality, restaurants can go from waiting and hoping and guessing to proactively building better businesses.

Instead of my mother-in-law hoping that her food, table-touches, and ambience create a good experience, she can use the data she’s collecting from every reservation or credit card swipe to communicate with guests long after they’ve left the dining room.

She’s not just hoping someone who had a great first experience turns into a regular, or that a regular will remember to come back every month. Instead, she’s proactively reaching out to them, welcoming them back for the same high quality food and hospitality that’s the hallmark of her brand.

That’s the power of digital hospitality - the ability to actually understand, engage, and retain your guests, and doing it all to create healthier, higher-margin guest relationships. 

The pandemic fundamentally changed how guests dine and how restaurants operate. But if anything, I’d argue that it’s leveled the playing field against third-parties, and offered restaurants an opportunity to build stronger businesses.

After all, if my mom can do it, so can you. And if you need help, feel free to book some time on my calendar🤗.