Imagine you take your date to your favourite restaurant for dinner on a Saturday evening. You are asked to wait for a table due to the busy hour. The wait for the table can take anywhere from five minutes to even an hour depending on the popularity of the restaurant (some restaurants even require you to book table days or weeks in advance!). Waiting for your table, you regret not booking a table in advance. But what’s the point of booking in advance if you are still only going to be given a table that is easily available and not to your personal choice. This is where the GRRS comes into place.
GRRS or Graphical Restaurant Reservation System is an online user reservation system through which a restaurant showcases a graphical outlay of their establishment allowing the customer to see the available tables (for any given time). This allows the customer to book any table of their choice for any given date and time.
The system can be easily accessed on the web or a mobile app, making reservations possible without having to call the restaurant directly. Usually, the GRR system is implemented in the official website or mobile app of the restaurant, making this possible without involving a third party. The best part about the system is that it can even project real-time graphics of the location, giving the customer the exact feel of the restaurant’s atmosphere as well as the precise location of the table booked.
Such an interactive and easily usable system also helps the restaurant since customers find it a lot easier to directly book the table on the website or the app. As is the norm, restaurants usually depend on third party websites or apps like Food Talk, Zomato, DineOut, Postmates etc. They also have to take into consideration their direct phone bookings, offers and promotions offered on social media, print or even the websites or apps mentioned previously. This often puts a lot of strain on the management of the establishment to always be on top of things. With GRRS now being easily available, updates or notifications can all be merged into one direct system, making it a lot easier for restaurants and bars to coordinate and function. The graphical restaurant reservation system directly connects the customer and the restaurant. The system can even display current offers or discounts available to potential customers on the same page, assisting establishments in taking reservations and handling all traffic to the restaurant. It is a multitasking tool at its best!
Here is the flow chart of the journey of the customer using the GRRS –
User visits website/mobile App > Enters City and branch > Enters Number of Guests, Date and Time > Graphical outlay of Restaurant opens with available tables > User selects table > Enters Name and Contact details > Booking Confirmed > Confirmation Text Sent
When booking a table on the phone, it becomes slightly difficult to convey important information like available offers and promotions to the customer on the phone. Important information can often be missed out on. Apart from helping customers reserve tables, the GRR system can showcase an interactive menu, the available offers, events, or even special food tastings with celebrity chefs or other such events. With the Graphical Restaurant Reservation System, all the info is easily available and accessible to the customer in one single place, making the entire process a whole lot easier than ever before.
One issue that worries a lot of customers is the need to give out more information to the restaurant than necessary. With the GRRS, the only bit of personal information the customer would be required to give out is a Name and Phone Number. This also works in the favour of the restaurant in increasing their client database. In case of future offers and promotions, the restaurant can simply send across a text when necessary. A restaurant I personally love is Mamagoto; and I love the fact that they always inform me whenever there is a new section on the menu or a new dessert to try on. Similar messages from third party sites are considered Spam. However, direct personalised messages from the restaurant are better welcomed than just promotional messages.
Who does it Actually Benefit?
The system benefits both restaurants as well as customers alike.
In the case of a Restaurant Owner, setting up an elaborate graphical restaurant reservation system has its own fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages; with the only disadvantages being –
1) The one-time cost of setting up the GRR system (with the usual updates if necessary)
2) Training of the staff on the correct usage of the system
Once the restaurant is equipped with the GRR system, they will have a complete database of important information like the customers along with their contact details and bills raised by each customer. Such info can greatly contribute in analysing the workings of the restaurant based on data gathered on a monthly basis. This in turn helps the restaurant owners and investors to have a better understanding of the business and to strategize accordingly to ‘maximise their yields and profits’.
In many cases, access to the customer database also helps the restaurant managers to familiarize themselves with the customers, often greeting them on a first name basis making the customers feel welcome and comfortable. In the hospitality industry, this is one of the best customer retaining practices. Additionally, owing to the access to customer data along with their previous orders and bills, the establishment will also be aware of their usual food and drink preferences. This is by far one of the most effective techniques to improve on overall customer relations and customer satisfaction since each customer is treated like a VIP.
There might also be instances where the restaurant may not be equipped to handle a group too large. In cases like this, with prior reservation, the restaurant can plan better and even change the outlay of the restaurant to meet the needs of the customers. In cases where no tables are available, the system also allows the customer to add himself to an advance waitlist which can automatically notify the customer in case of a sudden cancellation or opening.
It is not only the restaurant which benefits from the GRR system. Booking and cancelling reservations has never been easier. The graphical outlay of the restaurant helps customers choose the best table keeping in mind the number of guests and the occasion. For example, a date night would require a private table for two with a nice view, whereas a larger gathering of around five people would be best suited at a bigger, more centrally placed table.
Owing to the elaborate and interactive menu available on the GRR system, the customer will have access to the entire menu, a short description of each item along with an image. Customers love knowing their food beforehand. The graphics and text add to the customer’s eagerness to visit the restaurant in question. Some GRR systems even allow customers to pre-order their meal directly from the website or app and have the food served hot and ready, timed perfectly with the customer’s arrival at the restaurant.
Is GRRS just an update or a game changer?
The GRRS is more than just an update or a simple replacement. True, it does take a lot of strain off from the staff when it comes to managing reservations and bookings. However, some restaurants already using the GRR system claim that there has been an increase of 20-25% to their overall turnover. The system allows restaurants to store huge amounts of data which can be transcended to useful information to enhance guest loyalty, improve customer service and improvise on their marketing skills which otherwise can also be called as a ‘Customer Relationship Management’ tool.
Some more advanced service providers in the market, like Quadranet, have upgraded features like live check-in tools, wish-lists (in case customers have special requests), updated info on available tables, and etc. all in one screen. The live check-in option allows the restaurant to instantly update the status of available or occupied tables to any online customers seeking reservations, bridging the time gap and hence making the table available to another customer almost instantly. With the live check-in tool, the kitchen also gets notified almost instantly ensuring that the kitchen staff is prepared. Such special features ensure the efficiency of the restaurant in its entirety, keeping in mind the bar staff, kitchen staff and serving staff. Each GRR system can truly understand the way the restaurant works as a result of customized configurations for each restaurant. Such features result in the elimination of human error, subsequently increasing the overall productivity of the restaurant.
As for the customer, automated confirmation SMS messages are sent almost instantly after booking as well as follow up messages as reminders. If customers allow the GRR system to push notifications on their mobile phones, they will also be alerted with the available offers. Since the whole system is almost automated, customers can even request the restaurant to take them off the messaging list if need be and the restaurant can do the needful.
The Future of Restaurants
The GRR system is a quickly growing product in the hospitality industry. However, given its share of assured benefits, it might not always work out for every type of restaurant or bar. Such systems are acutely configured to match the needs of specific restaurants. If you have a fast food joint which relies mostly on walk-in customers, maybe this is not the product for you. However, another variation of the same product would be ‘Automated Restaurant Orders’.
Have you been to a restaurant where the server places the orders on a tablet instead of noting it down? Such a system automatically notifies the kitchen, identifying the customer by their table number. Once the order is ready, it can be served to you by any of the other servers since all the required information about your order is already available to the whole staff on their devices!
With the advent of technology making life easier for both service providers as well as customers, we might not be too far from the complete replacement of human labour in the hospitality sector!