Brand new research exposes an accelerated customer demand for a technology-enhanced customer experience, with the expectation of a pay-at-table app growing, just as Government restrictions introduce mandatory table service for much of hospitality.

The research, from KAM Media and OrderPay, found that the availability of ‘mobile phone ordering’ in a hospitality venue has become more important to 41% of UK adults over the last six months (9% said less.)

This increase in demand of mobile ordering is driven by Generation Z and younger millennials (64% of under 34-year-olds say its importance has increased) although 15% of over 55-year-olds say the functionality has grown in importance for them too.

Joe Martin, Chief Marketing Officer, OrderPay said: “There is no doubt that the past few months has accelerated the need for technology solutions and it’s become vital that hospitality businesses respond to consumer demand. However, it’s also vital that this technology is utilised to widen understanding and knowledge of customers, to communicate and engage, and to reward them for their loyalty and drive new habits around visiting venues. The sector must look at this shift in behaviour and learn about our customers so we can serve, surprise and delight them in ways that were never possible before.”

The research, which forms part of a free whitepaper, aimed to investigate what customers really want from technology in a hospitality environment.

Customers were asked to rank which features were most important in a hospitality app; the ability to book a table came in at number one (74% saw this as an important feature) closely followed by the ability to pre-order food and drink (62%).  1-in-2 also want to be able to gain loyalty rewards via an app.

Katy Moses, MD, KAM Media, said: “The key to success with technology in general is not to start with the tech but to start with the customer. Always. Consider the key challenges and demands that they have, both now and in the longer term. Customers want to feel safe, they want friendly and helpful staff, fast and efficient service, good availability of quality food and drink and an inviting atmosphere. A tech-enhanced customer experience must contribute to one of the needs and desires, not make their lives more complicated.”

The research also identified clear opportunities for the industry to use technology to inform and reassure nervous customers. 92% of respondents said they’d like to see clear communication of safety measures and procedures in venues via websites and apps. 37% would like to see how busy a venue currently is, and 29% would even be interested in accessing a cleaning schedule before they visit a pub, bar or restaurant.

Joe Martin added: “While many operators have data on their customers through a single customer view, it is not at a granular level. The ability of tech to be able to distinguish customers’ eating and drinking preferences, spending habits, visit frequency and more, is an opportunity which simply cannot be missed. This research highlights opportunities to supercharge hospitality businesses through the power of data, enabling the sector to understand emerging trends in consumer behaviour which can drive future revenue and loyalty.”

This desire for technology-enhanced hospitality experiences isn’t new. Previous research from KAM Media, shows that a “contactless’ customer experience was already in demand well before lockdown. They questioned 1,000 hospitality customers in 2019 and found that, even pre-Covid, 47% wanted the ability to pre-order and pay before arriving in a venue. This rose to 66% of under 34-year-olds.

“The relatively slow uptake of technology to improve customer experience has been evident to customers for some time. Back in early 2019 our research found that 1-in-2 customers thought that pubs and bars in particular were behind other leisure outlets and retail when it comes to their use of tech. We’ve seen a phenomenal acceleration in the use of tech in the last six months, driven by the Covid crisis, which has proven just how quickly changes can be made if the need is there; customers are telling us that the need is here!” commented Katy Moses.


The research forms part of a free white paper – Technology-enhanced Customer Service – a collaboration between OrderPay and KAM Media and is available for download here.