Hospitality: Just a Beer Light to Guide us?

If you own or run a restaurant, bar or hotel and you’re not already thinking about the next generation technology, you’re already too late.

Believe it or not hospitality is already technology-driven and if you don’t have it, you’re not doing smart business. Whether you like it, or not, technology is moving faster than you can move.The effective use of this technology can either make your business faster, leaner and ultimately, it can help you deliver a guest experience they’ve never had before.

New advances in technology pervade nearly every aspect of our society, and hospitality is certainly no exception. Eating out is already undergoing a digital revolution with 70% of restaurants due to accept mobile phone payments in 2015. We are already surrounded by computerised point of sale, bar management, hotel reservation and front office, energy management, menu scoring, and accounting and inventory systems, along with computer-controlled cooking equipment as friers and digital microwaves.

New technology is here to stay, and it’s high time the hospitality industry moves along with it. To be able to do this efficiently and effectively, however, we need to understand the reasons why difficulties presently exist and how they may ultimately be resolved. So what’s the best way to integrate technology into a restaurant, hotel or bar? I have been looking in detail at the current state of technology in restaurants, bars and hotels and the changes that are on the near horizon. While future scanning (see also super forecasting) is very tricky there are some undeniable trends in innovation, from the internet of things / internet of everything to the way we train staff to be Excellence, always. Here are some key waypoints to start you thinking:

  • Just a Beer Light to Guide Us. Websites and social media are the biggest drivers to restaurants, bars and hotels. If they can’t find you fast they go elsewhere. Local footfall needs a great big digital sign: Enter Here. What is your digital strategy to highlight your establishment? What are the next generation location finders that will keep the customers coming?
  • Training Gets Smart. Training is a critical issues for hospitality particularly if there are multiple sites. I have seen some attempts at introducing systematic training with eLearning – most of which are clunky and very last generation. Mobile learning is the way ahead. World Manager® is I believe, the first all-in-one corporate communications platform allowing CEO’s to train, track and communicate with every employee in the world, by the minute. Currently it is use in over 22,000 business locations in 51 countries. In 2013, according to BRW, over 25% of the fastest growing companies in Australia are using World Manager®. Companies such as Billabong, G8 Education and Goodyear Dunlop Tyres use World Manager every day and their teams can access World Manager from their Smartphones, Tablets or Desktops, on both Apple and Android operating systems. It effectively delivers online training, face to face recording, policy sign-offs, manages live workshops and tracks national training stats. It has job ready and vetrack integration, tracks and report staff completion of topics and enhances and sustains trainer messages. Cool and very smart.
  • Back-end Gets Smarter. Scheduling and inventory management control systems. Technology is needed because restaurants will eventually become a paperless system, eliminating things such as credit cards and payrolls. The use of next generation stock control and the Internet of Things will require more broadband and better software.
  • The Age of Accessible Data. As long as the value exchange is enticing enough, consumers are more willing than ever to allow hospitality brands access to their data.
  • Fast Free Wireless Access. If there’s no Internet connection, there will be no repeat business. It’s all about bandwidth. Businesses need a bandwidth plan.
  • The New eMarketplace. eMarketing, sales, public relations and advertising are some of the key elements that are changing rapidly. However, this approach seems to be insufficient with the introduction of digital marketing trend, to generate leads and improve online customer experience.
  • The ES Customer experience. The emphasis should be on delivering excellent customer care throughout the buying process. So simple things like apps letting you know your table is ready eliminate the need for restaurant pagers, which are limited by distance. Digital measures of the emotional signature and metrics helping the design of excellent service. See alsoHospitality Must Change.
  • Smart Technology Branding. The immense growth of mobile world (smartphones and tablets) is s quickly surpassing the age of desktop, laptop and personal computers, which enabled hoteliers to create a cohesive brand experience across all the mobile devices taking into consideration content compatibility with limited screen resolutions.
  • TMS (Not test match special)…Table Management Systems that track turnover and available seating, help keep tabs on customer flow. From the art of being the Host who gets flow and turnover, to the science and algorithm of management and peak flow.
  • Mobile phone payment. Fast food chains are currently the main place where mobile is accepted as payment, with many restaurants still relying on cash or wifi enabled electronic-point-of-sale (EPoS). 68% of restaurants planning to accept the payment next year via Near Field Communication (NFC) . Credit card security is a major issue for hospitality. Customers can pay right at the table without ever losing sight of their credit card.
  • Swipe it Now. Tablet-ready menus, as opposed to paper menus, can be updated immediately and in real-time. Customers’ ability to customise or change their orders via apps eliminates the need to chase down waiters or waitresses.

In the hospitality industry, it is important to be vigilant and on the move and aware of the fast change environment and technology out there. There is a need to be agile and continually trying to explore new territory with fast evolution and adoption rates.Innovation with purpose and authenticity. Consider these quotations and compare them to the cost of moving forward with your technology:

  • If you make guests unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.
  • If we don’t take care of our guests, someone else will.
  • One Guest, well taken care of, could be more valuable than £ 10,000 worth of advertising.
  • There is only one boss. The Guest. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
  • A Guest is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependant on us, we are dependent on him.
  • There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
  • Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.
  • Guests may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
  • The purpose of a business is to create a mutually beneficial relationshipbetween itself and those that it serves. When it does that well, it will be around tomorrow to do it some more.
  • Guests don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.
  • Our greatest asset is the guests! Treat each guest as if they are the only one!
  • Treat every guest as if they sign your pay cheque, because they do.
  • Guest complaints are the schoolbooks from which we learn.

Finally, here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.

Be Amazing Every Day.

Design Thinking Changing Training


Training: see what happens now and repeat.

Like a sad dinner-for-one that is sat at the back of the fridge that’s past its sell-by-date, the current prevailing concepts of training are out-dated. I has been superseded by something better and can safely be discarded. Training is a very commonly used word and perhaps it needs refreshing itself. Transformed into a new design led process, by re-imagining, re-designing and inspiring new methodologies. Learning is in many ways a better way to think of this subject, because learning belongs to the learner, whereas training traditionally belongs to the trainer or the organisation. Training (in my opinion) should be about whole person development, not just transferring skills, the traditional interpretation of training at work.

Design Thinking (crash course here) is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems. When Design Thinking is applied to the new paradigm of learning and training, it can draw upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the trainee). A design mindset is not problem-centric; it’s solution focused and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.
With this in mind, it is good to look for solutions across different platforms and styles of thought. My favourite scientific rapper (there can be only one) is the very wonderful Baba Brinkman. While covering the theory of evolution and the work of Charles Darwin, equates evolution with how he writes his lyrics thus: Performance, Feedback, Revision.

…..and how do human beings (learning and training organisations) ever learn to do anything? Like this:

  • Performance – Feedback – Revision

…..and how do I generally develop my lyricism (training / speaking / inspiring)? Like this:

  • Performance – Feedback – Revision

Because the performance is necessary to change the words (learning) to decide which have an impact and which to send back to the drawing board.

  • Performance (training people to be amazing, by me)
  • Feedback (from trainees and my peers)
  • Revision (the ‘bits’ that have impact are iterated)

Organisations which approach training and development from this standpoint inevitably foster people who perform well and progress. Importantly their good people stay around for long enough to become great at what they do, and to help others become so. Leaders creating future leaders. The best training methods are not necessarily just conveying information, but that can make receiving data or instructions a much more enjoyable experience, which will keep trainees involved and help them retain more information. The process of design thinking for training might look like this visually:

A modified form of this process for training might include these waypoints:

  • Define the Challenge and Agenda. The start is crucial and doesn’t have to be linear after this.Develop a set of powerful questions to surface opportunities, and frame training and learning innovation.
  • Gather Data. Learn how to gather data through qualitative research such as observation (thick data) and storytelling to augment traditional forms of data gathering. Some powerful tools include Journey Mapping, touch-point analysis and value chain analysis.
  • Reframe and Clarify the Challenge. Make sense of research by seeing patterns, themes, and larger relationships between the information. Challenge assumptions and illuminate opportunities latent in the training process.
  • Explore Play and Create Novelty. Giving a safe place to experiment and innovate. Lower the barriers to what can be done, what could be achieved and direction training might go. Technological and ideological events that allow freedom and true innovative experience.
  • Make Learning Fun. Designing from the basis of fun will make a process inspirational. Trainees will not be enthusiastic if training sessions are dry and dull. Few employees respond to or remember complicated concepts or theories; they want to learn practical information about what they can do to get better results today. If they don’t find the message entertaining, they won’t retain it. Using the design process it is possible to use multiple, diverse and different training methods to engage learning for trainees in a variety of ways.
  • Encourage Artful Reflection. Cultivate your intuition and develop aesthetic ways of knowing. The elegant training solution wins in the marketplace.
  • Powerful Visualisation. Develop visual thinking skills to de-code images, and communicate ideas visually. Visual literacy transcends the limitations of language and activates our senses. Training tools include Mind mapping, sketching and painting.
  • Time to Ideate. Learn six idea generation tools to foster shifts in perception, break out of traditional mind-sets, and generate seed ideas for innovation, including Metaphorical thinking, connecting the dots, and Edison’s invention techniques. The new paradigms for training don’t need to re-invent the wheel but under process like meta-cognition (learning to learn).
  • Evaluate and getting Feedback. Identify the criteria you need to evaluate training ideas; learn the distinction between critiquing and criticising an idea; give feedback that enhances creativity rather than crushes it.
  • Encourage Participation. Use the Design Process to understand how facilitation works. Make the session lively by engaging participants in the learning process. In fact, try to spend close to 80 percent of training time on group participation. Encourage everyone in the training session to speak freely and candidly, because learning occurs most readily when feelings are involved.
  • Fast Prototyping. Create a visual tangible representation of your idea and present it to the group for feedback. Create a feasibility and an adoption checklist to get people onboard.
  • Customer Co-creationand Empowerment. Exploring alternative futures with your internal and external training customers.
  • Interim Assessment. Gather early feedback from prototype. Assess outcomes, and refine your project. Develop a set of feedback questions to get the information you need, i.e., does this add value to the trainee or the client?
  • Use Humour and be Playful. Humour helps keep enthusiasm at peak levels. Trainers can make a point more effectively by using humour than by drowning trainees in statistics or theories. Personal, self-deprecating humor is the safest way to go.
  • Roll out and Implementation. Create an action plan and test-drive your innovation plan for training change.
  • Finally Iterate. Assess results, modify and improve, using this framework to drive the cutting edge of training change.
  • Excellence, always. Goes without saying.

From now on, in big letters across the top of your white boards should go the words:

Performance – Feedback – Revision.