Look around, and you’ll see that most of us are glued to our cell phones. They have become so much more than just a tool to make calls: cell phones are now our camera, our bank card, our whole digital lives. Out of our population of 36.29 million Canadians, an incredible 29.8 million of us own a cell phone and, increasingly, we are using our phone apps to organize every aspect of our lives.

On average, we use around 30 apps each month and launch nine per day.  The hospitality industry has seen this trend and jumped on board to develop apps that increase customer loyalty and therefore sales. April is International Customer Loyalty Month and we are celebrating by looking at how restaurant tech, including our customizable KiSSGC private label APP, is shaping customer experience and making a difference for business owners.

With a 5% increase in customer retention translating into a 25% increase in sales, restaurants have previously attempted to keep valued customers through loyalty programs such as stamp cards or VIP membership. Now cell phones, those devices we are all constantly attached to, provide a more personalized way to interact with customers and provide targeted offers.

The figures (from Sysco’s CAKE blog) speak for themselves: The market for AI in food service is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 42% over the next five years and 92% of restaurant operators agree that compatible restaurant tech is crucial for their business’ performance — nearly half (48%) of restaurants plan to add mobile tech soon.

In 2017, Starbucks said that payments made via mobiles increased to 30% of all transactions in its US stores and the Starbucks® app has been heralded as a massive success — combining a personal dashboard with options to pay for your order, check your balance and add funds to your Starbucks Card (with debit/credit card, or PayPal), earn and track Rewards, or send gift cards.

hospitality app

Who uses restaurant apps?

Millennials have adopted technology to improve their restaurant experience, with 50% of them currently using restaurant tech, according to a study by webrestaurantstore.com. Sysco found that millennials are more likely to use restaurant apps and Food Tech Connect discovered that 98% of 18 to 34 year-olds who’ve paid a bill via mobile would do it again and 40% actually prefer a mobile payment. Boomers are also on board with 56% of consumers aged 45-56 saying they have recently used restaurant tech. 

How a private label APP works

The cost of developing an app like Starbucks’ one could cost anywhere from $75,000 – $500,000. A closed platform private label APP is designed to look like it came from your business, so there is no data sharing and you can market directly to your loyal customers.  

Our customizable KiSSGC private label APP includes a loyalty program that varies based on the customer’s needs (like Starbucks) and gives rewards for loyalty. Customers can free up room in their wallet by using the app instead of plastic gift cards to pay for food/drinks or even text gift cards to anyone with a phone. There’s also the option to add features such as online reservations/appointments.

Make payments easier

There are no Interac or credit card fees with APP payments.  Our KiSSGC APP enables mobile payments, so customers can pay with their phone (the APP is linked to their credit card). A customer preloads $X on the APP so they are carrying a balance, which creates a stronger desire to return to that establishment. This also gives the business a customer’s funds before they even come in for the goods or service. According to Sysco, online ordering has increased the average ticket size by 26%.

Send marketing messages

Our APP enables businesses to send push notifications such as an SMS, or an email directly to customers about special promotions, loyalty points, rewards, etc. Sysco found that 75% of customers want to receive special offers via text and it’s possible to carefully and thoughtfully target customers thanks to the database of information that the APP collects. Not only does it help with targeted marketing messages, but having detailed information about the time of day they visit, the spend amount, favourite items, and how often they come, can help businesses with scheduling and stock inventory.

Increase customer engagement

Giving customers the option to update preferences, share experiences via social media and find out basic information such as menus, opening hours and contact details all help to make it easier for customers to choose your business.

If you’d like to find out more about how our customizable private label APP can help you, please contact myself at trish@holistichospitality.ca or my partner roger@holistichospitality.ca for more information.


hospitality apps

How Restaurant Tech Took Off

Interested in finding out more about how tech is shaping the industry? Here are three stories that take a deep dive into reasons why apps are essential for restaurants.

It’s more than just points, even more than marketing. It’s creating a convenient experience for the customer, one that customers want to use. In many cases today, companies are doing this by providing an app for customers’ smartphones.”  

Forbes looks at why loyalty is about more than just offering rewards. 

“According to research, 65% of restaurant customers would be willing to download your restaurant’s app if you promised them exclusive offers and deals from time to time, and a whopping 80% of those people would proactively return to your restaurant to reap the benefits… even if it meant they’d have to keep buying a few times before they got anything.”

Buildfire has 14 data-driven reasons why mobile apps are essential for restaurants.

“The adoption rate of traditional loyalty programs sits at about 12%. Those rates went up to 18-28% when mobile payment is offered in addition to a loyalty program. When mobile payment is combined with ordering and a loyalty program, adoption rates went up to 15-35%.”

Hospitality Tech gives us three reasons why restaurants should offer mobile apps, including in-app loyalty programs creating a higher spend.



Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

More posts by Trish Hudson