2016: The Year to Upgrade Your Restaurant (and/or Retail) POS Systems?

By Jeff Zabin - Research Director at Starfleet Research

31 December 2015

Most next-generation Property Management Systems (PMS) integrate with a large assortment of third-party technologies. These technologies often include point-of-sale (POS) systems, which are needed in restaurants, bars, gift shops and various other retail outlets across the property.

In fact, according to The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems, 74% of hotel operators view the ability to integrate their PMS with their restaurant and retail POS solutions as "important" or "very important."

POS solutions have undergone dramatic change in recent years – more dramatic, perhaps, than any the industry has seen since the decades-old shift from cash registers to POS terminals. These changes encompass both the software and hardware that are being used today to improve business operations and customer satisfaction — and, ultimately, to reduce costs and increase revenues.

The most obvious change in POS systems is the proliferation of tablets. New data security requirements along with a number of advances in features and functionality are also certainly factoring into the equation. These range from more robust data analysis and reporting capabilities to expanded payment processing options to handle the proliferation of chip-and-pin cards and e-wallet apps.

Other key drivers include everything from CRM, marketing and customer loyalty program features to built-in inventory control and labor management capabilities. In short, there is no lack of compelling reasons for hoteliers to consider upgrading the technologies in use in their restaurant and retail operations.

Of course, when it comes to any technology investment hoteliers generally have two primary objectives. The first is to streamline business operations with the goal of increasing employee productivity and overall efficiency, resulting in greater cost savings. The second objective is to improve the guest experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, brand advocacy (e.g., positive word-of-mouth, including favorable guest reviews on TripAdvisor and other social media review sites) – and, ultimately, increased growth and revenues.

Can next-generation POS systems really help hoteliers achieve both these objectives with respect to their restaurant, bar and retail operations? The answer is a resounding "yes."

Consider the efficiencies that are to be gained in table service restaurants when servers can place orders directly from a tablet to the kitchen printer or display monitor rather than from a stationary terminal that may be more than a few steps away and also bottlenecked by servers. Rather than waiting their turn to punch orders into a terminal, servers can spend that time interacting with guests and attending to other duties that would likely enhance the guest experience.

Faster order placement and pay-at-table processing — as well as more payment options — can remove some of the most common barriers to guest satisfaction. This may be especially relevant in a poolside or beachfront setting where service expediency generally matters more than in a fine dining atmosphere. No hotel guest wants to wait longer than necessary for their strawberry daiquiri and French fries to arrive at their poolside table or for their bill to be processed so that they (and their family) can hurry back to their guest room or on to the next vacation activity.

Importantly, pay-at-table capabilities can also enable a restaurant to turn tables considerably faster than before. And that can make a big difference in the amount of money coming through the door during the busiest times of the day.

The business case for next-generation POS systems is easy to make, given the myriad of benefits. In most cases, return on investment can be measured in terms of cost reduction, which is largely a function of increased staff productivity, and greater profitability, which is largely a function of improved guest satisfaction and volume. Is 2016 the year to upgrade your hotel or resort's restaurant (and/or retail) POS capabilities?

Note: This article is adapted from The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant POS Systems as well as The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Retail Management and POS Systems. Both guides are currently available from Starfleet Research for complimentary access.

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Jeff Zabin

Jeff Zabin is Research Director at Starfleet Research, the IT market research arm of Starfleet Media, which benchmarks best practices in hospitality technology and publishes the popular Smart Decision Guides on hotel-related topic areas. He also serves as managing editor of Hotel Technology News (hoteltechnologynews.com) and as Uhrverkäufer at HotelClocks.com, authorized distributor of the world's most exquisit timepieces to luxury hotels and resorts.

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