6 Tools Restaurants Can Use for Better Guest Intelligence

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6840983795_020d2a0efb_bBy the time a guest walks through the front doors at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Washington D.C., marketing manager Myca Ferrer can already be fairly certain what he or she will order. Ferrer isn’t psychic, but he is using a guest intelligence platform called Venga to gain a deeper understanding of his most frequent customers.

By tracking preferences and payment histories, Ping Pong Dim Sum is better able to offer VIP service to its most loyal diners. The restaurant also uses the information it collects to send targeted offers based on the days and times when certain customers are most likely to come in. “We’re able to calculate the lifetime value of our guests more accurately, and we can engage with them in ways that we weren’t able to before,” says Ferrer.

Here are six tools that restaurants can use to gather intelligence about their guests.

1. Venga: Track your customers’ preferences.
Venga is a guest management and loyalty platform. By integrating the platform with their POS systems, restaurants can track their guests’ average checks, favorite menu items, and favorite drinks. Servers can then use this information to provide customers with a VIP experience, making sure to avoid recommending anything that they’re prone to dislike. Customer profiles are also a useful tool when creating targeted offers based on what time of day a customer is likely to come by, or what he or she is likely to order. Venga charges between $149 and $249 per month, per location for its mobile loyalty program.

2. BuzzTable: Identify neighborhood regulars.
By using BuzzTable’s waitlist app to engage customers while they wait for their tables, restaurants can seamlessly create detailed profiles of all their most frequent guests. BuzzTable identifies VIP customers based on lifetime spending, tracks social media influence, and saves customer preferences. Guests can enter their preferences (like, “I prefer table #9,” or “I like my steak well done”) on their mobile phones, and this information can ultimately be used by hostesses, waiters or marketing managers when sending targeted offers. BuzzTable offers a free plan for restaurants. Premium features can be turned on for $49 per month.

3. OpenTable: Use reservation data to offer better service.
OpenTable offers guest intelligence tools as an add-on to its primary restaurant management system. The data that customers share when booking reservations (including email addresses and special requests) can be used for future marketing purposes. The platform also serves as a place for restaurant employees to store any information they collect from customers once they’ve arrived, like favorite wines, food allergies, or favorite tables. Although OpenTable’s fees can vary, past estimates pegged the platform’s terminals and table-management software at around $270 per month, plus additional costs based on the number of reservations made through the online system.

4. NoshList: Use historical data to provide a better guest experience.
Although NoshList primarily serves as a platform for managing restaurant waitlists, the company provides a number of guest intelligence tools, as well. Restaurants can create detailed guest profiles with complete histories that show exactly which dates and times a customer has come in, along with the party size and length of time that person waited for a table at each visit. Based on this information, a hostess may decide to seat the guest sooner, offer a personal welcome back, or send a glass of wine while the customer is waiting for a table. Restaurants can expect to pay $49 per month for NoshList’s Premium features.

5. FiveStars: Give customers a VIP experience.
FiveStars is a digital loyalty program that integrates with most existing POS systems. Customers earn points and rewards based on their spending habits at participating establishments, and in return restaurants get access to mountains worth of data that can be used to identify trends and segment customers based on lifetime spending or frequency of visits. The FiveStars platform can be used to track individual customer preferences, like how many glasses of wine a guest generally orders per visit, as well as how many friends a customer has on Facebook. FiveStars charges restaurants a monthly fee that falls in the $94 to $129 per month range. This fee includes POS software, unlimited cards, custom marketing materials, a merchant toolkit, and targeted email and text message marketing tools.

6. QuickCue: Create all-inclusive customer profiles.
QuickCue is an iPad-based table management system that restaurants can use to gain a better understanding of their guests. Servers can add notes and “party tags” (like VIP, outside, highchair, or booth) to customer profiles, and they can refer back to these tags for a quick refresher on preferences and dislikes each time a customer comes in. By tracking customer preferences, restaurants are better able to tailor their services to individual needs. QuickCue offers a free 14-day trial. Standard pricing is 1 cent per guest, or 5 cents per mobile party, with a $20 minimum per month.

Know of other tools restaurants can use to gather intelligence about their guests? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.