Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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noodle bowls. It features seven robotic cooking woks that prepare each order in three minutes or less. To help launch the concept, the team partnered with acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud, who was named culinary director and invested in Spyce. "Spyce is at the intersection of hospitality and technology," the company said in a statement. Personalized Communications While labor costs and other efficiencies are driving much of the inno- vation in the foodservice channel, many operators are also using data- base technology to create personalized marketing efforts, enhance service, and elevate their communications with customers. At many casual and fine-dining restaurants, for example, online reservation systems are being leveraged to help restaurants tailor their service to individual customers based on their personal preferences. New York-based Altamarea Group, which operates several high-end restaurants, uses a digital reservation platform called SevenRooms that helps it identify its VIP customers and offer them customized treatment. The system stores food and wine preferences and other data, such as a favorite table, that the staff can use when- ever those guests dine at any of the company's locations. The company uses SevenRooms to analyze centrally the customers who are dining at all its restaurants and makes note of customers who stand out because of the frequency with which they dine, or other characteristics that signal their value as customers, says Jonna Gerlich, managing director of marketing at Altamarea. This information is then shared with the general managers at each location, who can update the profiles with more specific intel- ligence that they learn from the customers' visits to their locations, such as the type of wine they typically drink. "If they walk through the door and say, 'I want to sit by the window,' without missing a beat our host at the front is going to put into the system that the customer prefers window seating," she explains. "It becomes a universal tag that goes in to one profile that's shared in all of our restaurants." Many upscale restaurants have long kept tabs on their best cus- tomers' preferences, but technology such as that used by Altamarea enhances their ability to leverage those insights and share them eas- ily across multiple properties. Gerlich says the company takes steps to ensure that its use of customer data does not become too invasive. "We try to do it in a way that gathers information that we utilize in great ways that would never intrude on somebody's experience or become too famil- iar," she says. The system can be thought of as a high-end loyalty program, where the most valued customers can be rewarded easily and in ways that they appreciate. "They're pleasantly surprised by the recogni- tion and the level of attention that we're paying to them, without getting too close for comfort," Gerlich says. "We try to just do a little extra touch here and there." The company has set up basic guidelines for its restaurant managers in terms of leveraging the SevenRooms insights to offer rewards. The technology also provides opportunities to up-sell customers on certain specials that might be limited, such as a toma- hawk steak that is offered periodically at the company's Morini's restaurant. Customers might be prompted to pre-order that item, which benefits both the restaurant in terms of sales and the custom- ers, because they feel they are getting an opportunity to participate in an exclusive, out-of-the-ordinary experience. Such marketing strategies tend to work well for special occa- sions such as holidays, Gerlich says—for Valentine's Day, for example, diners might be able to preorder chocolates for the table. Delivery Technologies Digital ordering for delivery or to pick up food for off-site consump- tion is one of the fastest-growing areas of the industry, and technol- ogy is enhancing that aspect of the industry as well. Pizza-delivery giant Domino's has been at the forefront of the innovation in this area, with user-friendly, app-based ordering tech- nologies and digital loyalty programs that are considered among the We try to do it in a way that gathers information that we utilize in great ways that would never intrude on somebody's experience or become too familiar. PHOTO: EATSA 32 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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