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Enhancing the social experience in bars and restaurants

It's almost guaranteed these days that there’s a smartphone in every pocket or handbag, in any bar or restaurant you visit. And they’re being taken out and used – all the time. Checking-in, selfie sharing, food and drink Instagramming, or using apps to hook up with friends old and new, has become an integral part of our social lives.

Dealing with 'dead zones'

As a result, the demand for 3G and 4G data connectivity is on the rise, particularly among the always-on millennial audience. Frustratingly, the interior design of restaurant and bars can often slow down connectivity, or result in ‘dead zones’. That’s where quality WiFi becomes a selling point, helping customers to broaden their social experience beyond the people they are physically with – to include those within their social networks at large.

This audience is receptive to – and expectant of – engagement with venues. Whether that involves picking up vouchers and discounts via SMS or email, or connecting with their social media accounts to praise or comment on the service they are experiencing. When this is all done ‘real-time’, it can have a powerful effect on the social experience customers enjoy.

Bars and restaurants have much to gain from enhancing the way they interact with customers while they are in a venue and after they leave. The first point of contact could be a tailored splash page, which could be used to share a special deal, such as a BOGOF on beer or dessert.

Then, when a customer logs in through a social media network like Facebook, the bar and restaurant owners can get more personal. They learn about their gender, age, hometown and interests, building a more rounded customer profile to shape targeted marketing communications.

When they know a customer’s birthday, for instance, they can send them an invite to celebrate their birthday at the venue, promising their first drink on the house. When they know how many times a customer has visited in the last six months, an email can be sent with a nice loyalty reward.

Social opportunities

Another benefit of customers accessing WiFi through social login is that they are more likely to engage with the venue online. Bars and restaurants will see their social interactions spike, which increases brand awareness among an ever-growing audience.

At Purple, we’re excited by the potential for venues in a wide variety of vertical sectors to maximise the ROI of WiFi infrastructure by using it to create a stronger social connection with customers. We are leading the way in developing ‘Intelligent Spaces’ – helping customers to collect and analyse data from real spaces, and use it to enhance their marketing strategy.

Purple is at the forefront of latest developments in the bar and restaurant industries. Our 'Future of Bars and Restaurants' event last December explored developing technologies for these industries. Restaurants of the future could have digital tabletops, for example, where a ‘virtual waiter’ is on hand to show the menu, recommend drinks and dishes, and take your order!

Clearly, these industries are moving fast. Businesses that want to compete in these sectors need to start now by investing in technology that can deliver a more streamlined approach to understanding customers, increasing engagement, tailoring marketing and crafting creative campaigns that enhance the social experience of customers. This will play a big role in making millennial customers feel special. As a result, they will want to stay longer, come back more often, and spread the word!

Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple

Image Credit: Aila Images / Shutterstock

Gavin Wheeldon
Gavin Wheeldon is CEO of Purple, the intelligent spaces company. Purple’s solution allows organisations to monitor how individuals interact with their physical spaces, while providing valuable, actionable insights.