Data is now an essential part of any marketing strategy. Every business wants to know more about its clients to successfully tailor products, services and messaging to their needs and preferences. The good news for businesses is that consumers today make a large proportion of their purchasing decisions online, so it’s easy to gather data insights from the digital footprint they leave behind.

For restaurants, this can mean using very simple tracking of online reservations to take the guesswork out of important business functions, such as procurement and staffing. It can also mean recording regular customers’ preferences, so that when they walk through the door your front of house staff can instantly see their favourite wine, table, or dish. These are easy ways that data can help restaurants be more efficient, and tailor the dining experience to the needs of customers to offer the personalised level of customer service consumers now expect.

The restaurant industry is starting to develop its use of data. Over the past few years, we’ve started to see more and more independent eateries and restaurant group’s work to capture and analyse their data. However, with the exception of large groups and chains, there isn’t a massive amount of sophistication where marketing is concerned.

The real opportunity for the hospitality industry, though, lies in connecting different data tools together, to glean valuable insights that allow you to improve your business by being more in touch with your customers, and ultimately increase sales and hone marketing.

We are working with companies such as Tragus and Gondola Group, to help them better understand the dining behaviour of their customers.

One example of a restaurant that is reaping the benefits of accessing customer data is OXO Tower (part of the Harvey Nichols group). OXO Tower uses our booking widget to collect email addresses, and mobile telephone numbers. When speaking to the customer, they take as much information as possible and then create a customer profile which appears every time they book and is updated after each booking. The OXO Tower's database is divided into segments based on the customer’s visitation history. Filters include: whether they regularly dine during lunch or dinner; if they dine predominantly in the week or at weekends; if they live or work locally or have previously purchased a ticket for an OXO Tower event.

What’s significant about this, is that based on this information, restaurants cannot only tailor their marketing strategies to their customer database, but offer a unique and bespoke dining experience to their regular visitors. This is ultimately what the hospitality industry is all about.

Nevertheless, as big data is revolutionising the way we interact with our customers, at the same time, there are some challenges that businesses need to understand. One of the risks when looking at personalisation is that you can overdo it. You don’t want to ‘over-personalise’, every business has to work out the balance between delivering a relevant experience and ultimately delivering a return on investment.

Customer data has the potential to generate valuable insights and if applied smartly can be used by the hospitality sector to refine marketing strategies, increase sales and improve the customer experience.

Top tips

Here are my top 3 tips for any business working out its strategy to data and marketing:

1. Stay close to your data. Data-driven marketers and analysts working together can be a very powerful combination. Be hands-on and build a team around you that understands the value of your organisation’s data.

2. Data is not an end in itself. Work out your marketing strategy first and then define the data you need for each programme.

3. Strive for simplicity. This comes from being 100 per cent clear on what you want to achieve and only using the data you know will support it. Do this by creating a culture of testing and experimentation.

 

By Gemma Carver, Group Marketing Director of Livebookings.

 


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