Data and the hospitality industry – at first glance they may seem like chalk and cheese. So how do these topics fit together?
Volker: Data and the hospitality industry don’t just fit together – they now belong together. During the pandemic, it’s become clear that data help the hospitality industry to survive. Customers find restaurants on the internet and order online. Hospitality Digital aims to drive the digitalisation of the hospitality industry forward. For example, with DISH Order, we are offering a product that enables restaurants to be found using Google Search and Google Maps. Customers are directed to the restaurant’s website and order directly without any diversions. In turn, restaurateurs get an overview of where their customers come from and whether the data they provide can be optimised further – ultimately to improve their business.
What types of data are we talking about specifically?
Volker: We use data from different sources that have been released for use. This includes METRO’s own data about things like the markets and customer purchasing behaviour, data from digital tools and also external data, which we buy. For example, we analyse digital menus to collect further information that’s important to us and our customers.
What is the relevance of this information?
Volker: It’s true what they say: ‘Data are the new gold.’ Data give us important insights – to understand our customers better, to customise our offers to fit with customer purchasing behaviour and to develop digital tools that help restaurateurs. Data are also important to our customers; they are having to digitalise and we offer support with that. For example, with the help of our data, independent business owners can find out what the restaurants in the immediate vicinity are offering and use this to consider how they can make their own offering stand out.
About … Volker Glaeser
Dr. Volker Glaeser is CEO of Hospitality Digital. The METRO tech unit develops innovative, digital solutions for the hospitality industry, hotels and trade. Before Glaeser came to METRO, the economist held positions including E-commerce Director and Company Officer at Vodafone as well as Digital Platforms Director for the E-Plus Group. Glaeser was also co-founder and head of a digital transformation consultancy for technology, media and telecommunications.
What does the analysis process look like? Is there a data analyst or even a team of people, or is everything done by algorithm?
Andreas: To find the ‘gold’ in the data volumes, we need technologies to support us and people to analyse these data. They are our ‘miners’. The many different data sources mean a large quantity of data, which we analyse with the help of analytical technologies. This calls for analysts who know our customers’ business. They put themselves in our customers’ shoes and ask themselves what indications or analysis the customer needs – and then they develop algorithms to analyse the available data to deliver that information.
How many menus – or other data sources – need to be fed into the system in order to extract information?
Andreas: That’s a question that we face every day. Data protection suggests a good guideline: ‘Only as much as is necessary.’ Data economy is key. Of course, each data analyst would like to have the largest possible amount of data as a basis, so they can run and test many different approaches – for example, we have already analysed more than 60,000 menus. Here, the latest technologies help us to determine quickly and securely when the quality of the findings enables consistent added value for our customers.
About … Andreas Hannemann
Andreas Hannemann is Managing Partner of the Datalogue Group. Hannemann studied business administration and worked in various fields relating to technology and marketing, including in the finance and mobile telecommunications sectors. For over 10 years, he was Managing Director of different advertising agencies. In 2012, he founded Datalogue together with Peter-Joachim Fiegel. The company relies on data and technology, combined with people, to navigate value creation for its customers.
According to surveys, 88% of table reservations in restaurants in the USA are already made online. Europe is far behind; depending on the country, it’s between a mere 30% and just over 50%. Why is that?
Volker: Actually, in terms of digitalisation, Europe is way behind in several sectors. But that also means we have great potential, especially in the HoReCa sector. And we’ve learned quickly during the lockdowns. After the first lockdown in 2020, we saw a huge leap forward in the use of reservation tools. There were several reasons for this: improved and optimised table occupancy rates made possible by digital tools, and also easier planning for a second seating. By entering their data, guests were able to manage the issue of guest registration in the restaurant as part of the same process.
Andreas: The digitalisation trend is really accelerating right now. People are directly experiencing the convenience of reservation tools, digital ordering options and the best possible occupancy rate, and receiving them well. The HoReCa sector is sure to develop far more extensive services that personalise even further the interaction between the hospitality industry and visitors. The objectives are visitor satisfaction and improved financial performance for restaurateurs. If the data are not used, there is no incentive for visitors to provide their own high-quality data.
The objectives are visitor satisfaction and improved financial performance for restaurateurs.Andreas Hannemann, Managing Partner of the Datalogue Group
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Are there other differences internationally?
Andreas: We see differences in the availability of data and their use. In eastern European markets, usage is very high and enables quick adaptation to changes. In western European markets, we already have a large data basis to help identify market opportunities. Acceptance and usage are rising quickly. Volker: I can confirm that: in Romania, Poland and Hungary, we see that the use of digital tools is rising sharply – also driven by intensive smartphone use.
What is the strategic significance of this issue?
Volker: Hospitality Digital’s business model is based on data. We offer digital products, develop these further and, on the other side, have highly qualified data that we can tailor to specific customer enquiries as a basis for calculations. Furthermore, we have in-depth knowledge of the sector and are in constant communication with our main target groups. So the digitalisation of our core customer group has great strategic significance. Our joint venture with Datalogue helps us to use already available infrastructure very rapidly. That means we can start immediately, without losing time implementing our own solutions.
Andreas: At Datalogue, it’s also the case that our business model is based entirely on data and on our conviction that digitalisation offers a great many new opportunities to give our customers added economic value. We are convinced that alongside the technology to manage and analyse large data volumes, detailed business understanding and human understanding and knowledge will continue to be necessary. Just because the technology calculates 47 target groups, for example, it doesn’t mean that it’s sensible and economically feasible to implement this statistical result in your business. It is precisely this focus on key needs and real success with customers that is a factor of the collaboration with the Hospitality Digital team.
Hospitality Digital and Datalogue founded DeepIdeas GmbH in April 2021. Purpose of the Joint Venture is to provide high quality market data for the METRO Group. DeepIdeas creates a unique foundation of information by smart combination as well enables the business to get an holistic view on the hospitality market.