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Hospitality industry leaning on tech, innovation to rebound

Micros South Africa MD Reginald Sibeko outlines Micros South Africa, and how it is positioned to assist with technology and innovation as the hospitality industry rebounds from Covid-19; while Adapt IT Tony Vicente explains how the Hospitality Tech CONNECT22 event also aims to assist with this recovery boom.

12th October 2022

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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The hospitality industry was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic; however, this did enable business introspection and the acceleration of technology and innovation, and with the industry now showing signs of a rebound, there are opportunities to capitalise on prevailing trends through the continued, bolstered use of these.

This was the key message from the Micros South Africa Hospitality Tech CONNECT22 event, held on October 10 in Johannesburg.

Micros South Africa was formed in February 1997 with the acquisition of the distributor rights for Southern Africa for the then Micros Inc. Now, it is an Oracle Gold Hospitality Partner and distributes the Oracle Hospitality product set.

In July 2017, Micros South Africa was acquired by information and communications technology solutions provider Adapt IT, which provides software solutions to the education, manufacturing, energy, financial services, communications and hospitality sectors.

Adapt IT Tony Vicente outlined that the pandemic had posed a major challenge to the hospitality industry, with lockdowns and travel bans leading to major job losses and closures.

Moreover, in South Africa, the country also had to contend with factors including challenging economic conditions, riots and loadshedding.

However, he indicated that the industry showcased how versatile it can be throughout these challenges, as it forced companies to regroup internally and reflect on inefficiencies and areas that could be improved upon.

It also accelerated the use of technology in the industry and spurred on innovation.

With the hospitality industry now experiencing a rebound, Vicente said innovation must continue to be advanced to derive benefit from this.

RESTAURANTS

Oracle Food and Beverage Business Unit global sales engineering VP Tim Brown outlined some post-pandemic trends that are persevering in this sector as off-premise orders will remain; the labour shortage will continue to be a major problem; technology will play a crucial part of future-proofing the post-pandemic restaurant; franchising will constitute a bigger share; menu engineering will be key to stay relevant; and the real estate footprint of restaurants will shrink.

He pointed out that the distinction between traditional restaurant verticals was blurring, as businesses venture out into multiple sales challenges in an effort to bolster their revenues.

In this vein, some areas of opportunity that could be pursued and some trends coming to the fore include brick and mortar restaurants opening a ghost kitchen to alleviate delivery traffic from the premises; fine dining single location operators adding cloud kitchens to cover a larger geographical area; casual restaurants offering delivering meal kits and meal perp at customer premises; and sport venues deploying holistic food experiences in areas around the stadium to enhance the fan experience.

For example, this is seen in the latter in the Fulham Riverside development in the UK, with this aiming to transform the riverside walkway into a leisure destination.

Brown indicated that the next-generation food and beverage trend would entail putting the customer at the centre, with a guest-focused platform from the ground up.

Brown also said there was a move away from the conventional point of sale (POS), to a point of service offering, with this itself also requiring enhancement. 

This includes the POS needing to start becoming more of an employee self-service, to make this user friendly for employees, and to ensure that they feel included and engaged, so that they can be hired, trained and retained.

Brown highlighted the Simphony POS system from Oracle as one potential solution, as it was built for complete restaurant management.

This is an all-in-one cloud POS platform that is posited to help restaurateurs optimise their online and in-house operations in real time from any device.

Brown said it builds a holistic view of the guest profile aided by the customer data platform that is continually updated and propagated, regardless of how the guest interacts with the business.

HOTELS

Meanwhile, Oracle HGBU Middle East and Africa Alliances and Channels’ Oliver Menzel outlined some trends in the hotels sector as including flexibility in product offering, which is a move away from a traditional rooms to concepts such as time increment selling and bed management.

He said Africa was positioned to be the next growth opportunity for the sector, and advised hotel chains to position themselves for this now.

Menzel also pointed out that inbound flights into South were Africa increasing, while hotel occupancy was rising and cloud acceptance growing.

He emphasised that connectively, contactless and artificial intelligence (AI) were increasingly in demand.

Therefore, Opera Cloud aims to offer a programme to leverage on these trends and to capitalise on what is happening now in the sector.

Purpose-built for hotel operations, this is a cloud-based payment management system solution with key capabilities aimed at meeting the needs of hotels of various sizes and complexities.

Menzel said it could be used anywhere, on any device, thereby offering service delivery to a guest at any touchpoint.

Moreover, it allows integration through the Oracle hospitality Integration Platform; personalised screen and workflows to optimise and tailor processes based on hotel’s individual needs; a chatbox/digital assistant feature for faster task execution; and automation of manual processes through AI.

Micros South Africa is bullish about bolstering an uptake of this in South Africa.

NEW OFFERING

Meanwhile, Micros South Africa MD Reginald Sibeko underlined the importance of technology, with Micros being passionate about providing solutions to help those in the industry to futureproof their businesses.

In this regard, an offering that it intends to roll out further, through a phased approach, is Isipo hospitality, in partnership with CPR Vision Management.

This platform will allow hotels in South Africa to offer an eGifting option to customers.

Outlining Isipo was CPR Vision Management founder and CEO Cameron Richards, who explained that this was a cost effective, simple-to-use e-commerce platform. It was aimed at driving repeat, direct and passive, recurring revenue; and to increase cash flow and build loyalty.

Isipo hospitality focuses on bringing together curated partners to offer customers a wide choice of hospitality-focused experiential gift cards.

Richards expanded that the platform can be used to drive direct and repeat business through a preferred channel.

Moreover, it can also be used to provide a new acquisition channel for new customers and new revenue streams. Also, it can be used to reward and win back customers and for sale of hospitably experiences.

Richards said it was being used by thousands of hotels globally, with proven successes, including one client, during the pandemic, selling $6-million of vouches in six days.

Moreover, he noted that it was a zero-risk platform, with low costs.

Richards outlined that the average voucher value is $150; and further, that 72% of guests spend more than the voucher once it is redeemed, thereby increasing profits for hotels.

He enthused that it was a unique service reward and recovery module.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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