Personalizing Guest Experiences

In looking at guest behavior across the restaurant industry, 75% of diners said they would be more likely to attend restaurants that recognize them by name or recommend options based on past preferences and purchases. So let’s give the people what they want …
The Evolution of Personalization
The hospitality industry was built on the basic concept of welcoming in and taking care of strangers. But in an age where eye contact has been replaced with touchscreens, restaurants are fighting to fulfill what their diners crave most: personalized human interaction. The emergence of technology is certainly not all bad- in fact, technology has offered many restaurants the opportunity to grow and expand. For the Boka Restaurant Group, that meant expanding from their first location in 2003 to now their 14th location in 2017.

Larry Flam, Operations Manager at Boka Group, pointed out an added complexity that came with their growth: “now we have company-loyal diners- regulars from one Boka location coming to another location for the first time. This gives us the opportunity to approach that table in a completely different way because we know they understand the Boka way of doing things. So the guests are new in one sense, but really they are like an old friend.”

Boka came to Venga with this challenge: help us use guest data to create more personalized experiences across our group.  
Making Personalization Scalable
We began working with Boka on utilizing untapped data to understand each individual guest. By connecting Boka POS systems with OpenTable profiles of past and future reservations, Venga could create robust Guest Profiles for each diner attending each Boka location.
A previously unknown guest could now be distinguished as Mark Smith, a first time diner at GT Fish & Oyster, but a group regular from GT Prime who dined 3 times in the last month, always orders the Beef Tenderloin paired with California Pinot Noir, prefers water with no lemon, left feedback via OpenTable 19 days ago, enjoys posting on Facebook from time to time, and has a lifetime spend of $3637.00.

Applied to every guest across the entire group, the Boka staff was empowered to personalize experiences: “We train our servers to understand a guest's likes and dislikes so that they can keep that in mind- if a guest is consistently ordering red wines, you’re not necessarily going to pitch them with a white wine. But if they’re ordering a lot of seafood- that goes out the door! Now, as a server, you might look at it from a different perspective like ‘Oh, this person typically orders Burgundy’s so maybe white wine from that region might be appropriate.’”  
Taking Action on Intel
To make this intel even more actionable, we created the Venga Preshift Report to deliver personalized guest insights in advance of every shift. Now, the service staff could cohesively offer the best hospitality possible.
From an operational perspective, Larry let us know the Venga PreShift report plays a crucial part in server success: “We are arming our servers with information so that they at least have a sense. Just because a guest has previously ordered the Cabernet doesn’t mean we are pitching that wine every time- that’s kind of the old-school way to serve your guests. Now we can consider our manager's observations and combine them with the real time feedback our guests give us”