Following the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the landscape momentarily shifted. Restaurants, equipped with technology-forward solutions, saw an impressive surge in app-based orders—constituting up to 80% of total orders. This surge wasn't just about numbers; it was about data-rich insights and a glimpse into a potential digital future for hospitality. For a fleeting moment, it seemed the digital loyalty puzzle was finally solved, all thanks to a global crisis that pushed customers toward app-based interactions.
However, this surge turned out to be a temporary panacea. As soon as the restrictions eased, customers reverted to their traditional ordering habits. The forced adoption of apps was just that—forced. The easing of restrictions revealed a stark reality: a mere 5% of total revenue from app-based solutions in most large pub and restaurant groups. This prompted a reevaluation: in an era of tightened monetary policy and contracted consumer spending, is it time to return to the basics? Is the concept of loyalty just another experiment failing to deliver long-term value?
Despite the setbacks, it's undeniable that certain areas of digital innovation continue to thrive, notably web-based bookings. Today, a staggering majority of table bookings come through websites, with restaurants investing heavily in optimising conversion rates. It's clear that the approach to digital loyalty needs a shift from app-centric to web-first experiences.
Our initial foray with "Journeys" was to capture this low-hanging fruit by creating a web-based solution superior to any app. Journeys excels in aesthetics, functionality, and, most importantly, customer conversion—no downloads or sign-ups required.
Our forthcoming update introduces the ability to earn loyalty seamlessly with the scanning of a digital QR code at the bar. This innovation allows customers to accrue benefits in a manner that doesn't disrupt their usual habits, including at-bar ordering—a key touchpoint. We're setting our sights high, with our first clients on the new platform targeting 40% uptake in orders through the new system, transforming the way loyalty is woven into the fabric of everyday transactions.
Imagine a future where websites and loyalty programmes are indistinguishable, merging into a single, seamless digital ecosystem. The upcoming transformation of Journeys into a comprehensive, loyalty-first CMS signifies not just integration but a complete reinvention of customer engagement. In this evolution, the website and loyalty application become synonymous, streamlining actions like booking a table to be as effortless as Amazon's 'One-Click' ordering. This unified solution not only simplifies online interactions but also enhances the in-venue experience, creating a continuous and cohesive journey. Every digital engagement now seamlessly transitions into a physical encounter, fostering a holistic environment that naturally nurtures loyalty and rewards customers at every touchpoint.
As we continue to develop and refine Journeys, our excitement for the future of hospitality grows. We believe that by embracing a more integrated, user-friendly approach, we can significantly increase loyalty engagement, offering unique monetisation opportunities for operators and enriching the customer experience. Stay tuned as we embark on this revolutionary journey.