There’s nothing new about using last year’s sales data to predict upcoming demand—it’s called budgeting and restaurant managers do it all the time. But with the increasing prevalence of what is commonly referred to as “big data,” more information is available to help managers better optimize their revenue.
Sales data is commonly used to make regular restaurant decisions, such as how many employees to put on the schedule and how much food to order. Beyond revenue figures, restaurateurs today are adding more personalized data points to their toolbox, using technology to collect data about specific diners they can use to ramp up the delivered experience.
For example, a technology solution called Venga matches a restaurant’s point-of-sale data with OpenTable reservations so restaurants can note trends about individual diners and begin to build guest profiles within OpenTable. Jose Andres wants to know the wine lovers who visit his restaurants so he can send out a sommelier and enhance their wine experience. Michael Mina queries Venga for cognac drinkers to deliver marketing materials and a heightened experience to them.
Danny Meyer cast personalization into the limelight when, after launching 11 successful restaurants, he started Union Square Hospitality Group, teaching that a personal touch can be more persuasive in winning repeat customers than the product itself. Today, entire database systems are built to track and supply restaurants with the information they need to personalize a diner’s experience.
“You always want more information rather than less,” says Winston Lord, co-founder of Venga. “The key is being subtle in the way you use it.”
For example, say you are aware of a special event that a couple is coming in to celebrate. Rather than awkwardly congratulating the two before they’ve mentioned it, a more subtle approach would be to ensure the corner table remains open for their arrival.
Or, maybe you’ve noted based on past visits that a certain guest is apt to order a $100 bottle of pinot noir. Suggesting the exact wine may be too invasive, but knowing not to offer that $1,000 bottle of Chardonnay could make all the difference.
Technology today promises to provide that “actionable” data on the guest.