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Hospitality Apps: Pub-tech is here to stay…

By Harry Brown
10 December 2020

By Harry Brown

Following the Covid-19 guidelines for the safe re-opening of pubs and restaurants, the hospitality industry has turned to technology to ensure it can open in a safe manner.

‘Pub-tech’ such as table service ordering apps were created to ensure the safety of visitors by avoiding pub goers congregating at the bar and reducing touch points such as paying in cash. However, whilst these apps were introduced under a universal service umbrella, post-Covid a whole variety of apps have now become a prerequisite to entering any hospitality venue.

JD Wetherspoons led the way with its mobile ordering system back in 2017. Perhaps a step ahead, its younger crowd, raised on technology and a product of the instant gratification culture, lapped it up with thousands of downloads and the company seeing 6.1% increase in sales in its first year of use.

It soon became clear that ‘Spoons’ was on to it something. There’s no doubting that (once it’s all set up) ordering on an app is much easier: you don’t have to leave your table, try to remember who ordered what, then make your way back balancing a table’s worth of drinks in two hands.

Pub groups like Green King, O’Neill’s, Slug and Lettuce, and Brewdog have been quick to follow suit, when even as far back as 2018, 30% of orders were being taken on apps. According to research by CGA and Zonal over a quarter of us preferred them back then anyway.

Whilst the big boys have been on the apps pre-Covid, now independent pubs and self-styled old school boozers have had to convert. To name just a few, this has led to the creation of numerous hospitality apps, such as YourRound, GoodEats, Untapped, MatchPint, Wi5, PintsNBites, and Pepper HQ.

Thanks to the pandemic, many of these apps are doubling up for contact tracing, taking your name, and contact details in one fell swoop. So, has technology saved the day for the service hospitality industry?

In other people-centric sectors tech has been successfully introduced while alleviating fears of automation out of a job. Property management, for example, has a whole raft of programmes to support a building manager perform their duties swiftly and effectively without their roles being made redundant – on the contrary, it means with the digitisation of certain tasks, they are now free to take on other roles to benefit the occupiers of the building.

As hospitality venues fight to entice footfall once more, bar staff unlaboured by as much service work are free to provide better service elsewhere like organising events – plus the other tasks an app can’t do, like cleaning and bringing “substantial meals” to tables.

With the delivery culture we now live in, I think I can safely say these apps are to here to stay – who wouldn’t want to click and collect beer?