Restaurants are increasingly harnessing the power of big data to up their game, with some now able to instantly view their guests’ job, employer and dining history.
Australia’s largest online booking system Dimmi has integrated a LinkedIn feature so that it can supply users’ employment information to its restaurant partners.
Ormeggio co-owner Anna Pavoni is using Dimmi’s technology to get to know her customers’ dietary requirements, favourite wines, waiters and tables, as well as their birthdays and anniversaries.
It’s also offering “deep” customer profiles which displays a list of restaurants they have previously dined at and their reviews.
“We’re building rich customer profiles that show how they want their steak, that their favourite spot is table 15, that now they’re the CEO of Macquarie Bank,” said Dimmi’s Stevan Premutico.
“This is not about taking a ‘big brother’ approach, this is about using data to inspire more memorable dining moments.”
Modern Australian restaurant Nel in Sydney’s CBD and Hotel Centennial in Woollahra are among those taking advantage of the LinkedIn data trove.
Fairfax Media reported last year that eateries had begun to effortlessly gather data such as order history, overall spend, and even lengths of stay, after Dimmi and point-of-sale provider ImPOS integrated their systems.
The integration meant every itemised bill could be automatically stored against customer profiles.
So far more than 100,000 Dimmi users have given permission for it to connect their profiles with their LinkedIn accounts.
Anna Pavoni, co-owner of Italian restaurant Ormeggio at The Spit in Mosman, who is reaping the benefits of Dimmi’s data tools and planning to use the LinkedIn feature, said customers didn’t have to worry about being treated differently.
“For us it’s a huge deal to get a new customer through the door and they’re our first VIP who we really want to impress, and that’s not about the job they do,” she said.
“Building customer profiles is an elegant recognition of their dining habits, from dietary requirements to tweaking the degustation so they don’t get the same experience from last week.”
Mr Premutico said the restaurant industry had for too long relied on memory and manual data entry to build a picture of their customers, trailing behind industries such as airlines and hotels that had mastered guest recognition and offered tailored experiences.
“Big data, small data, any kind of data, its all useless unless its used properly and what we are seeing now is that restaurants are starting to tap into that to improve the dining experience.”
Caroline Groth, marketing director at Indu and Mejico restaurants in Sydney’s CBD, which are using the Dimmi-ImPOS software feature and also considering using the LinkedIn feature, said patrons were ultimately the winners.
“It’s about keeping our customers loyal and keeping them coming back, so this is very important for us, we want to be at the forefront of utilising the best technology,” she said.
She said in regards to privacy concerns, they never disclosed any customer information to third parties.
“It’s kept within our four walls, and collecting data is about providing the best experience.”
Big data expert David Vaile, from the Australian Privacy Foundation, said the lack of transparency to customers was a concern and he would prefer store-front notices and an opt-in model.
“We know there is a massive trade in data and psychographic profiling, so where does this collecting stop? What’s to stop them from monetising and further exploiting this valuable information?” he has previously asked.
“Wouldn’t it be better if the restaurant had stable, secure staff, so you met the same person each time, instead of meeting different wait staff who may be keeping a dossier on you?”
Dimmi, which was purchased by US travel giant TripAdvisor last year, has more than 1 million customer profiles and claims to have processed 25 million bookings for its 3500 partner restaurants.
Microsoft is in the process of acquiring the professional networking website LinkedIn, but has hit some hurdles, including concerns among the European Union’s antitrust regulators.
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