As any hospitality business owner or operator will tell you, running a hospitality business is a real juggling act. It relies on many different functions: loyalty, marketing, ordering (online, via apps, on kiosks, and at the counter), delivery (self-managed or via aggregators), operations, reporting, kitchen management, inventory, rostering, and accounting. That’s just to name the basics.
These functions each rely on a software system to manage them – a software system that generates data and which uses data as input. So it’s essential that these systems, and therefore the functions they run, can share information or pass it between them. To have disparate systems, each with their own data, and unable to talk to each other, is a recipe (pardon the pun) for a very inefficient and ineffective hospitality business.
The fractured tech stack
And yet…it’s a battle that some hospo businesses face daily. For those who use disparate systems – one for loyalty, another for ordering, another for delivery, and so on and so on – day to day hospitality operations can be torturous. They have a ‘fractured tech stack’ and like a fracture of the bones, which puts our bodies out of action and makes movement and agility difficult, a fractured tech stack also causes a great deal of pain and paralysis.
What does a fractured tech stack look like in hospitality?
You might see your fractured tech stack show up in one of the following ways:
Your third-party loyalty systems don’t integrate well with your in-store point of sale or kiosks, or your other ordering systems, such as your website or aggregator apps.
You have to update your menus and pricing in multiple places for different systems. Rather than your systems sharing a single view of menu and pricing, each has its own data, meaning you need to update individual menus across delivery aggregators, online, apps, and POS, rather than being able to do it in one spot for all systems
You cannot easily integrate with third-party applications such as accounting, rostering, and inventory.
What is the impact of a fractured tech stack?
If you do have a fractured tech stack, why does it matter? What is the impact on your hospitality business? The answer is that the impact, in short, is the potential for lost revenue, additional resources, unsound business decisions, and loss of customers.
A customer transaction isn’t confined to one element within the stack – it passes through multiple functions. So if, for example, a customer has earned loyalty points with an in-store transaction, but can’t spend them via the app, they see you as a less attractive option and potentially move away to one of your competitors.
If you have a different menu and/or different pricing online, in-store, and on the app, customers start to feel confused, or even cheated, and again you could lose them to another brand. The lack of clear pricing data could also mean that you’re losing money by undercharging.
If sales data is not passed swiftly, seamlessly, and accurately to inventory, you are working with out-of-date information and could potentially run out of key stock items. That leads to lost sales and dissatisfied customers.
If your operational data is not integrated with your reporting and analytics, then you’re asking your management team to take decisions that are either based on information that is not up to date, or on no data at all. That could lead to unsound decisions and lost opportunity and revenue.
Hospitality is a fast-paced industry, where you need to be agile and able to move with – or ahead of - the market. It’s hard to be flexible and innovative if every great idea requires multiple systems to be updated – and you could find yourself at the back of the pack.
If manual interventions, or ‘workarounds’ are needed in order to pass data between systems, you might get away with it if your business is small-scale and happy to stay that way. But if you’re looking to scale, a fractured tech stack will pretty quickly put the brakes on your growth.
What is the cure for a fractured tech stack?
The only way to redress the pain of a fractured tech stack is to move to a platform approach – a hospitality platform integrates key systems - such as loyalty, marketing, delivery, ordering, back of house, reporting and analytics, and kitchen management - in a single stack, interfaces seamlessly with third-party apps.
Running your hospitality business on a tech platform enables you to operate efficiently, share data, enhance customer service, scale and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the hospitality sector.