Finger food: The next meal is as far as the phone

Whatever guests would like to eat, they can order it through Agilysys’ rGuest OnDemand.

ALPHARETTA, GA—For today’s busy, tech-connected consumers, everything is available at their fingertips—and food is no exception. From online delivery services like Seamless and DoorDash, to restaurant apps that let guests order food for pick up—or even delivery right to their table—people are used to the convenience of the internet enabling their culinary wants and needs.

“Over the years, dining has transitioned to become a digital experience,” said Mike Zimmerman, director of program management for Agilysys, a global provider of next-generation hospitality software solutions and services. “Diners enjoy ordering on a mobile device and receiving their meal, often with limited human interaction. Order-ahead and location-based delivery are also new trends. Hotels are finding that providing digital ordering services on guests’ personal devices promotes engagement, whether it be order management or simply providing incentives to dine at the hotel restaurant.”

And being available online is crucial for hotel F&B—after all, the competition is already there. “Technology-minded consumers are disrupting the hotel F&B market. Guests expect immediate access to unique dining options, and smartphones are providing that convenient access to nearby restaurants, whether those venues are on the hotel property or not,” Zimmerman noted. “Mobile access is prevalent, and hoteliers are looking to technologies to help them meet these changing guest attitudes.”

That was the major factor behind Agilysys’ development of rGuest OnDemand, a mobile solution that enables guests to place food and beverage orders directly from their personal mobile device.

“We heard from some of our customer partners who were looking to have a real-time, on-demand mobile ordering solution to help secure incremental guest revenue,” Zimmerman explained. “And since Agilysys has been serving hospitality leaders for years, we already had the technology as our foundation. It made perfect sense for us to develop and bring it to market.”

As with any technology release, a lot of thought went into the development of the product, to create an end result that would be easy for both guests and operators to use. “We understood that any self-service ordering technology would need to leverage an underlying POS system as well as provide integrations to PMS systems for room charges,” he said. “rGuest OnDemand leverages Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS technology as the foundation for item, menu and order management, as well as reporting capabilities. We also wanted it to be as convenient as possible for the guest.

“Our philosophy for the product is a simple one: Provide a convenient and frictionless method to connect a guest to the property’s F&B options regardless of that guest’s location,” Zimmerman explained.

So how exactly does it work? “As a rich web-based tool, guests can be invited to access the hotel’s dining options via the property’s text messaging system or even by scanning a QR Code that might be present in the guest’s room,” Zimmerman said.

For many smartphone users, real estate on their device is highly valued, and many don’t wish to download an app for one-off hotel stays. “Guests don’t have to go through the effort of downloading and installing a special app,” Zimmerman said. “This makes it simple to quickly access a dining venue, place an order and pick it up or receive a delivery at a specified time.

“For the hotelier, the uncomplicated menu-management tools in rGuest OnDemand provide easy methods of exposing menus to guests, complete with branding and imagery,” he continued. “The hotelier can customize the guest experience and as orders are placed, they arrive at the kitchen in the form of a printed or digital order where they are then fulfilled.”

Zimmerman stressed the importance of customization in the product. “Since every hotel is unique in its brand and its F&B offerings, rGuest OnDemand was built to provide a customizable experience,” he said. “Colors, brands and themes are easily changed by hoteliers to fit their needs. And menus can be customized with visual content to engage guests with enticing menu presentations. The technology can also be set up to front a variety of outlets permitting guests to order from more than one venue within the same app.”

While the benefits for guests are obvious, Zimmerman said there are advantages for hoteliers as well. “While digital ordering was created for diner convenience, it also provides an unexpected boost in restaurant revenue,” he said. “Mobile ordering can streamline processes in the kitchen, such as order throttling, which enhances overall productivity. This, in turn, saves considerable staff time—and time is money when it comes to fulfilling orders.”

What kind of property is this product ideal for? Zimmerman noted, “rGuest OnDemand is already in use at resorts with lounges, patios, sports bars, pools and other areas where guests like to hang out and relax. With a QRC or barcode scan, a menu shows up on screen and the guest places an order. Deliveries to the guest are accommodated through several means, such as the scanned code, via room lookup or even GPS.”

For its part, Agilysys will continue to enhance the product. “Hospitality technology is always an ongoing learning lesson. The fine-tuning is never done,” Zimmerman said. “Hoteliers are seeing the benefits of rGuest OnDemand and they’re bringing new capability requests to us as they see opportunities to expand the performance of their technology. During our discussions with hoteliers, they have broadened our perspective on how we plan to evolve this solution.”

While the technology is important, what hotels are serving up is critical to guest satisfaction. “Today, hotel guests want to eat like locals. They’re looking for good food and authentic experiences,” Zimmerman said, noting that it can be a challenge for hoteliers to offer this without digital engagement.

“Technology has changed the hotel F&B business for the better. As hoteliers recognize the efficiency of handling orders digitally, this convenience will become an expectation held by an expanding population of diners,” he concluded. HB

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