A table full of data and computers.

Returning guests continue to build a robust customer profile over time, providing staff members with a vast understanding of their flavor preferences through the collected data.

Secret Ingredient: How Operators Can Get Clever with Guest Data

Repeat customers provide an abundance of valuable insights.

Many diners are creatures of habit, ordering their same weekly takeout burger, or coming into a restaurant at the same time each week. 

Yet some operators might not recognize that these repeat customers provide an abundance of valuable data that they can use to deepen their loyalty—both on and off premises.

There are countless clever ways restaurant owners can leverage this guest data to boost revenue and increase brand loyalty to create the ultimate guest experience.

Data Collected On-Premises

Let’s start with our loyal in-house diners. The guests that come into their favorite spot each week, for example, provide tons of customer data which can be used to its fullest potential through a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system. This allows operators to match the guests’ weekly reservation with their existing client profile or, if the customer hasn’t dined with them before, create a new one according to their contact information.

Returning guests continue to build a robust customer profile over time, providing staff members with a vast understanding of their flavor preferences through the collected data. So, when that loyal customer books their weekly dinner for taco Tuesday, their server can suggest a drink recommendation that pairs well with their routine dish, such as a spicy margarita made with house-made infused tequila. Having actionable insights from guest data presents the perfect opportunity for operators to upsell different food and beverage components.

Another way operators can get clever with their collected guest data is by taking advantage of the data collected during past visits to offer exclusive surprises or tailored specialties.

Take the New York City diner, for example, and imagine they book a reservation at their favorite West Village restaurant to celebrate their birthday. Since the restaurant already knows the guest’s favorites through their profile, they can surprise the diner for their next birthday celebration by having their favorite red wine resting on their reserved table upon arrival.

When returning guests dine-in year-round, their data is continually collected, creating a detailed customer profile which allows operators to offer tailored promotions and more personalized service that keeps loyal guests coming back for more.

Data Collected Off-Premises

Next are the serial takeout guests who prefer restaurant service in the comfort of their own home. Despite their lack of presence on location, these guests still provide beneficial data which operators can immediately collect through direct online ordering.

Whether or not this homebody orders the same meal or tries something different each week, restaurant owners have the opportunity to leverage data-driven engagement, also known as marketing automation, to get them to order more dishes or order more often.

For example, a restaurant could recognize that a particular diner always orders a vegetarian meal and send a personalized email encouraging the guest to try the perfect vegan side dish for their next delivery. Or, if the restaurant wants to nudge the takeout guest to come into the physical restaurant, they can send a “come join us” note and offer a discount for an in-house-only plant-based specialty lunch.

To take it a step further, a restaurant could use customer ordering data to note the top spenders on New Year’s Eve takeout orders and craft an automated email tailored specifically to this group, to send ahead of the Super Bowl with a discount on a party package offer.

When an operator sends automated marketing emails to guests, not only will customers feel valued and heard, but operators will develop additional opportunities to cross-sell, convert off-premises guests to in-house diners, and even target big spenders and VIP guests with exclusive promotions, all made possible through insight distilled from collected data.

The Power of Insight

Understanding the behavior of loyal customers becomes easier when a restaurant has access to their guest data, and deepening their loyalty becomes easier with data-driven marketing tactics such as special promotions or targeted upsells.

Even on the smallest scale, operators can take the information collected from a single restaurant visit and mold a one-time guest into a frequent visitor – the secret is all in their data.

Austen Asadorian is the Senior Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company's goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company's go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to manage efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).