Embrace change: Why standing still today means moving backwards

Technological advancements have revolutionised the way we live and work. In the 18th century, the first industrial revolution was defined by steam power and industry. In the 19th century, the discovery of electricity stimulated the start of the second industrial revolution.

In the 1970’s, the creation of computers and the subsequent arrival of the internet led to the third industrial revolution. Today, we’re embarking boldly into the fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0 – built on advanced computer technology, automation, data and more.

We’ve reached Industry 4.0 because, at every stage of evolution, people and businesses were willing to change and ask, ‘what’s next’. Today, there are many businesses doing the same once again, however, there remains a huge cohort resistant to change.

Many business owners are of the opinion that “this is the way we always do things, because it works.” Whether they like it or not, the pandemic has ushered in a new era that could see them left behind. We now have more stability and clarity than we have had at any stage since the pandemic began, and new status quos are beginning to establish themselves.

Why is embracing change critical today?

The hospitality industry was one of the worst affected by COVID – prevented from hosting the close, personal experiences that it has been built. Businesses were faced with a choice – either embrace a new way of thinking or be left behind. Those that adopted technology and embraced new consumer preferences now lead by example. So how is a willingness to embrace technological and consumer change the key to success in a new era of hospitality?

Befriending change

Hospitality businesses have often been considered more immune to tech advancement than most. After all, food and drink can’t be digitally transformed. However, through tech and data collection, everything relating to the provision of it can be. Data has near limitless potential to drive restaurants, bars and cafes forward. Those willing to embrace change by digitising their operations will be better placed to provide those core pillars that cannot be digitised.

Through data, hospitality businesses can provide meaningful experiences in every venue, whether it’s a rural, family-owned restaurant or a group like Merivale or Australian Venue Co. with hundreds of venues. These groups have established their position – and will strengthen that position – through their ability to adapt before the industry changed around them.

Through approved guest data, businesses can build 360-degree profiles that understand a guests’ likes, dining preferences, spending habits etc. The data not only allows venues to provide hyper-personalised guest experiences, but incentivise loyalty and increase revenue.

For example, data helps a venue understand that a particular guest has a shellfish allergy, but regularly orders a bottle of Merlot and a steak. With those data-driven insights, the venue knows not to promote or offer shellfish to the guest, that a discount on steak might entice them back, and that a complimentary Merlot would be very well-received on their birthday.

These experiences incentivise loyalty. For hospitality businesses, particularly independently-owned venues, it’s easy to think these data-driven capabilities are out of reach. But tech is now more accessible than ever, and businesses who have embraced the opportunity to change are in pole position to capitalise on a significant change: contemporary consumers.

As consumers change, change too

Once-upon-a-time, consumers were satisfied with receiving the same content, offers and treatment as their peers. Now, they expect personalisation. Businesses that drop one-size-fits all approaches and target each customer uniquely, based on their habits and preferences will feel the benefits in both the short- and long-term. Consider Amazon and Spotify.

Both use customer data to provide entirely personalised products or playlists and have strengthened their positions as a result. They had a great product, but because they evolved, they’re now stronger. If a business can demonstrate they understand that their customers are unique, then cater to their habits and preferences, they’ll find it easier to drive loyalty.

Through platforms like SevenRooms and the data and automation it’s built on, businesses can focus on delivering meaningful face-to-face guest experiences with the peace of mind that they have powerful technology keeping everything else ticking over behind the scenes.

Change can be daunting and has its sceptics – as we’ve seen from the first industrial revolution to Industry 4.0. However, change is inevitable, necessary and hugely beneficial.

Those who adapted proactively before it became a necessity are industry leaders while those who stood still were left behind. The hospitality industry is changing, and those who change now – embracing technology and new ways of catering to contemporary consumers – will be able to incentivise loyalty, increase revenue and lead by example.

Austen Asadorian is the Senior Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms.