What do you try to find out about diners before they walk in the door? Once they’re seated, what do you learn about them? How do you document and keep track of that information? And, in the end — does it all pay off?
In a word, yes. Our data shows that restaurants using OpenTable Guest Notes — our hospitality-driven guest management feature — have higher review ratings than those who don’t, at an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. By adding customized notes and tags in your private guest details, you can better understand their behaviors, tastes, and tendencies.
What do diners really want?
We also surveyed our diners* to find out what really counts when it comes to personalized experiences, and which touches are most likely to bring them back to a restaurant again and again. Diners responded that complimentary extras (69%) and seating preferences (65%) would go far in increasing customer loyalty. But it’s worth noting that 53% of diners looking for those custom experiences have not made requests around seating or dietary preferences before their arrival.
The “Cheers Effect” was also alive and well. The next most important things diners said they wanted restaurants to know (and remember!) were their names (65%) and favorite drink (50%). Plus, people are overwhelmingly looking for a more tailored dining experience — a whopping 95% said they’d be more likely to go back to a restaurant if the staff catered specifically to their personal preferences.
Finally, we found more evidence that guests aren’t just craving VIP treatment from special-occasion restaurants. Almost 70% of respondents said they would enjoy a more personalized dining experience from casual restaurants.
What restaurants know
Industry professionals know how much magic happens behind the scenes in restaurants. Today, tech plays a key role in helping restaurants deliver next-level hospitality and making guests feel like VIPs — whether they’re visiting from out of town or live two blocks away. That level of service makes an impact on guests, makes them eager to come back, and prompts word-of-mouth recommendations as well as online reviews.
“Our approach to hospitality is highly studied and cultivated through the relationships we have developed with our customers over the years,” says Eamon Rockey, General Manager of Betony in NYC. “It’s practiced constantly and ultimately intended to be as personal as absolutely possible. We find out special occasions, what [guests are] doing in New York, if they’re visiting, what their plans are for the rest of the night, and maybe what they got into earlier in the day. All of this plays into the way we’re going to approach dinner with them.”
Curious about the codes restaurants use most, we tapped OpenTable’s Restaurant Relations team for insight. It should come as no surprise to insiders that codes like !!! (see manager), Always (always accommodate this guest), and Double Fire (restaurant critic) come up frequently. Others include:
- Camper (guest who linger long after their meals are finished)
- DNM (Do Not Move… to a different table)
- FOC/FOO (friend of the chef/friend of the owner)
- HWC (handle with care)
- Reg (regular guest)
- Whale (big spender on wine)
The next wave
Seeing the impact Guest Notes can have on hospitality (and business), we’ve enhanced the feature on our flagship Guest Center product. Now it’s even easier for restaurants to cater to guests’ preferences and special occasions by structuring Guest Notes into customizable categories — think seating and food and drink preferences. Learn more about recent updates here.
Stay tuned this week as we share more insights about personalized hospitality on Open for Business — what information restaurants track, and what the best of the best do to deliver differentiated experiences.
*OpenTable’s Diner Survey was conducted online from July 21, 2016 to August 15, 2016. The survey garnered more than 3,000 responses from across the U.S.