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What means Being Digital? About hotels, restaurants, digitalization and models

What means Being Digital?

To send a whatsapp doesn’t mean that your company is a digital company. – Federico Fritzsch, CEO of gstock

The phrase with which I have started this article was pronounced by my dear Federico Fritzsch in his speech at the premiere of Horeca Speakers at San Sebastián Gastronomika and we heard it again at the presentation of the Report on Digitization in the Sector Restoration, directed by Beatriz Romanos and developed by TechFood Consult and the Basque Culinary Center, with the collaboration of HIP and Marks of Restoration.

If digitizing is not having more or less dynamic profiles of your horeca company in Social Networks or a group of whatsapp through which to communicate with your team … What is digitalize then? If I asked you what a digital business is like … What would you say? What do you think a business should do to hang the “digital” label?

Throughout 2018 we talked about digitalization of restaurants, hotels, the tourism industry, Horeca in general. We have talked about automating processes, social networks, digital customer experience but … Do we really know what it is to be digital when we refer to a business or company? What is the paradigm? The red lines?

Let’s talk clearly about hotels, restaurants, digitization and model to follow. Define what is a digital business, fully digital in all its areas, in all its touch points.

Let’s elaborate the profile type of digital business, from there, to be able to check if your company is really digital, at what point of the digitalization process it is and how to continue on the road to the 100% digital business.

Being Digital eva Ballarin


The Report on Digitization in the Horeca Sector reveals an increasing use of technology and the certainty of the potential that its implementation has in the business.

It stands out, within what the Horeca sector calls Digitization, the concern to improve in sales, margins and reduction of operating costs, from the management of suppliers to the productivity of the dish and staff. The goal is to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, both for independent restaurants and for franchised models.

Now: Are the restaurants in our country really digitizing? To what extent are businesses technological? Interesting facts that the Report contributes in this regard:

  • 83% of the restaurateurs surveyed recognize that technology is a great help for their business.
  • 40% of the participants in the quantitative sample are considered intermediate technological users.

Regarding the concept of digital business, a phrase of the Report helps us to understand what the sector understands to digitize, broadly: “In the comments of the most advanced users, there are continuous references to big data and social networks as the main technological tools to know and to understand demand. “

The Report also shows that 15% of independent restaurants and 8% of organized Horeca is considered Non-technological; that 31% of the independent and 13% of the organized is considered Basic Level Technological; that 38% of the independent and 43% of the organized is considered Intermediate Level Technological; and that 17% of the independent and 36% of organized is considered Advanced Level Technological.

We already know where the sector considers that it is in terms of the use of technologies related to digitization. Let’s see now what are the technologies most used and in what percentage. The report highlights that “of the most used technological tools currently, over 50% penetration, the first five correspond to front office solutions and customer relations. Undoubtedly, the most used by restaurant owners is the POS, with an 86% penetration. Followed by WiFi, online advertising and booking systems. “

The own web “is very introduced in the organized Horeca, and especially in the independent groups. Among the independent venues, social networks are the most important common element, “the report details. Other digital technologies such as reservation platforms, mobile payment or the app itself have mixed use and valuation in the restaurant sector.

Let’s talk about the future. The report shows that “among the priorities of the digitization plans appear the development of an own app, with 43% of participants affirming that they plan to invest in it soon (figure that in organized restoration is 50%), and the recipe platforms and cost templates (42%). It is striking that in the third place appears, and with a strong interest (41%) the management of waste “.

The question is … Is this (have your own website, with POS, offer WiFi to the client or advertise online, among other issues) Be Digital?

Being Digital eva Ballarin


In the Customer experience session in the tourism sector, organized by The Valley and eMascaró and which I attended last December 12 in Barcelona, ​​I had the opportunity to listen to Luis Galí, senior advisor of eMascaró (and speaker of HIP2019 in the session Hotel Trends of next February 18), make a fantastic approach to the digitization of the hotel sector.

Interesting facts about digitization and hotel that Galí contributed in his presentation:

  • 92% of hotel clients are already informed online before making the purchase of a room.
  • 72% of guests have purchased at least one hotel room online last year.
  • 76% have done, at least, an online check-in in the same period.

With the data in hand, Galí said that “the challenge that hotels now have is the digital experience” and recognized that “many hotels are falling behind what the client already asks for”. And is that “as we are digital (as a user), we do not understand that digital services are not given in hotels, especially in those who live in the economy of experience.”

If we talk about Digitalization and Hotel, we have to talk about four key areas of work, according to Galí: digital customer experience, digitalization of operations, digital room or Smart Room and digitization of the organization and (very important) of the people. Four areas that define the DIGITAL HOTEL.

A hotel’s activity is determined, in the words of Galí, by four trends in relation to Digitization:

  • Personalization. All digitization has to be customized. The client needs personalized experience to the fullest. Personalization is essential.
  • Innovative experiences The new technologies are allowing to create differential customer experiences.
  • Mobility and voice The use of voice technologies improves the customer experience and is one of the growing sectors.
  • Omni-channel and simplicity. “Easy is the new loyalty,” Galí said, citing another expert in customer experience. I share the appreciation.

To move towards the Digital Hotel, “the technological strategy is key. Designing a technological strategy that allows evolution is fundamental to avoid wasting investments “. This strategy should design a digitalisation program for all hotel processes, so that the relationship with the client, from all areas, is coherent and the digitalization “total and real”.

The question in this case is: If Digitizing supposes a competitive advantage … Is the hotel sector working towards its implementation? Do we have digital hotels, beyond theory?

Being Digital eva Ballarin


Four are the large areas that comprise the digitization of a business: Front office, Back office, customer relationship and business intelligence, not necessarily in this order.

In view of the previous analysis on restaurants and hotels and based on the four major areas of digitization of a business that we have defined, these are, in my view and according to my experience in the sector, the characteristics that make a Horeca business a Horeca Digital business:

The process of digital transformation of an organization begins by understanding its great advantages, both for the organization itself and for the customer that, remember, you must always put at the center of all your decisions.

The digitization is a process that starts with the firm determination to optimize all those processes that can be automated and with the certainty that, in this way, automating them, we generate a much more effective and efficient operation for the business.

This transformation must involve all teams, be led by the general management of the company and have economic resources to carry out.

Technology is faster than us. We have many tools to digitally transform the organization but, in many cases, for the large structures the changes represent the incorporation of a new company culture – which always includes a reformulation of who we are and where we are going – and, for the little ones, the feeling that these advances do not affect us and are not necessary for the business.

In both cases, the decision not to face this change and all the benefits it brings is a very clear way of losing the train. The train, the bus, the plane or the rocket that gives us the necessary speed to remain competitive in a business environment as complex and highly competitive as the hotel industry.

In HIP2019 we will talk about digital transformation and we will do so by establishing the Digital Agenda for the sector. From 18 to 20 February in Ifema (Madrid), the main national and international experts will design this Agenda for the digitization of the sector through presentations, keynotes and panels of experts in which you will learn the key elements needed to give impetus to the REAL digital transformation of your company.

Ser Digital eva Ballarin

I invite you to continue the conversation on my Social Networks. Do you have questions that you would like to ask me? You can do it at [email protected] and at #AskBallarin.

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