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Over the last ten years the hospitality industry has made significant steps in using information technology in order to improve service efficiency and effectiveness. The hospitality industry has progressed in a number of ways to reach the new level of customer service. Sheraton Hotels have introduced Microsoft Surface, Inter Continental planning to use iPad, many other properties started to use mobile-based reservations and e-folios1. These service innovations have been found as the competitive methods and became critical success factors for many properties. Developments in ITs changed both economies and enterprises. ITs are defined as the "collective term given to the most recent developments in the mode (electronic) and the mechanisms computers and communication technologies used for the acquisition, processing analysis, storage, retrieval, dissemination and application of information"2
1Lui & Piccoli, 2010, p. 5
2 Poon, A., Tourism, technology and competitive strategies, CAB International, Oxford, 1993
Over the last ten years technology was facing the dramatic growth. IT is becoming faster, smaller, more reliable and less pricy. Also we see more areas where IT can be used and the degree of IT influence is getting higher and higher every year. Paradoxically, the higher is the level of the technology the more user friendly and cheaper is it. Which is allowing more enterprises to adopt the technology and thus increase the productivity.
We are going one step further now. The Information technology due to their functional abilities and relatively low prices are spreading over the industry. Now not only the hotels and airlines, but even the restaurants adopting more and more of the existing software and hard ware. 4
Web Based Dining Reservation Software
We all know that in many of the restaurant customers just walk in and are being served without any problems. In the same time it is obvious that reservations are important at the time of festivals, large functions and at any special occasions. Sometimes the booking needs to be done due to the high level of the turnover, due to the good food, famous chefs or wonderful service or prior experience.3 While the need of reserving the table in the restaurant is growing, more and more people are becoming uncomfortable with calling the restaurant. The reason for that could be language barrier or lack of the communication skills due to the habits of using the internet. This problem of reserving table in restaurant has been solved nowadays with the help of restaurant dining reservation systems. Restaurant dining reservation systems is one of the relatively new technologies, which adopted by the hospitality industry enterprises.
3 Pumphrey, C., 2010, p.1
The concept of this software came from the from the hospitality and airline reservation systems. The customer which would like to visit the restaurant can observe the variety of choices and reserve the table with the amount if people needed. As the IT stays close to the social networks some of the dining softwares are able to accept Online Reservations from across the Internet, including the customer's Website, Facebook page. Also this kind of the system can build Customer Database.4
As it was mentioned above Internet has become a favorite path of purchase for many customers in the past ten years. In order to stay competitive, many companies were obliged to enter into that channel of distribution to offer their products and service and to get in touch with more buyers. 5
Web base dining reservation system work with the help of internet connection. On the Website of dining reservations or table reservation, customer has to register himself once and his or her details are been stored forever. So that whenever the customer makes reservation for the table in restaurant he or she does not have to register again and his details appear automatically on screen. Through this system guests are able to make his or her reservations at his choice of restaurant for required number of people and position of table in restaurant.5 The great example of this kind of the reservation software can be seen in the restaurant "Yogies", which is located in center of Zürich.
5 More than a software provider, we are partners in ensuring your business success, 2010, p.1
Web based dining software's main goal is to provide the greater level of customer satisfaction and to meet the needs of consumer for convince. This type of software are claimed to be able to cover the huge variety of choices and present the real prices and availability of such dining services. In other words such kind of dining reservations makes it easier for the guests to book table in the restaurant. It does not matter how busy is the restaurant, this system helps guests to receive the required level of service. This system also saves time of guest and allows him or her to avoid waiting in the line.
Sources of Web Based Dining Reservation Software
While researching the variety of the web bases dining software like "iMagic", "BlueSkies", "Reserve Interactive" and etc. The Reserve Interactive is a company that offers software's to the hotel industry that is easy to use and technologies to improve efficiency and growth. It also helps you to work faster and also gives particular guest 6
information that will eventually help in enhancing customer hotel relationship.6
Restaurant diary is a state of the art restaurant booking system, these diaries are updatable and can be changed as your need them to and requirement. Reservation diaries have a graph that shows exactly which tables are available.7
Various other reservation channels used are Expedia, IDS, GDS. Avenista is a very advanced restaurant table reservation system that helps to eradicate over booking, increase revenue, raises efficiency in restaurant booking and also manages to improve to take care of customers.8
Reservations can also be made through point of sales reservation system. Its been used more often to make reservations directly over the Internet. It allows the customer to pick their table even before they enter the restaurant, and it also does not require an operator to put the data from the guests. The Online Booking Engine by Globekey systems. With the help of this engine the guest can book directly with the hotel without any commission.9
Web Based Dining Reservation Software's Advantages for Consumers
Web based dining reservation systems are a similar concept to booking a hotel room or plane ticket online. A consumer that uses this service once is likely to notice the many advantages of making a reservation online such as lower waiting time than booking by 7
telephone, and various other benefits. However, during the process of researching online reservation systems, I came across a wide online service offering that offers the user many options, such as choosing country, viewing the location of the table in the restaurant.
Furthermore, the online reservation service allows the user to select a restaurant by cuisine and price range.10 Additionally, the user can reserve a table in accordance with the time you wish to reserve for as well as the number of people.11 There is also the possibility for customer to choose the theme for a celebration such as birthday, anniversary, or even to advise of any special dietary requirements for a business lunch or romantic dinner. There are a number of benefits that the user can enjoy by using an online booking reservation service, these include:
ï‚· Choosing a table which meets your preference on location or view
ï‚· In case a client has been to the restaurant before, he can request the same waiter to serve again.
ï‚· Pre-advise the restaurant of any food allergy so that a mean can be prepared that does not represent a risk to the client
ï‚· Making a special request for a specific event or themed celebration.
ï‚· On the web site, clients can review the special offers that are provided by some restaurants
ï‚· Some restaurants provide their menu on the website as well allowing the clients to review & preselect their choice prior to arrival at the restaurant
ï‚· There is often a map of how to get to the restaurant and photos of it also
Typically, the online reservation method requires the user to complete a reservation form, which takes a few minutes if the user 8
wishes to explore the various options available. However, if the user is making a reservation at a specific restaurant, the online booking process can take less then minute.
After completing the online reservation form, the user provides their phone number and email, and after submitting the form, the user receives a booking confirmation by return email. The email confirmation is a useful part of the process as this can serve as reminder of the details of the booking. Online restaurant reservations systems allow consumers to search for their specific dining requirements make reservations 24/7 365 days a year. By using an online reservation system, the customer avoids waiting for specific restaurant opening times and can make the reservation without the delay caused by answering machines, no phone queues and one of the biggest benefits with this reservation method is for tourists who do not speak the local language since they don't need to speak with anyone on phone.12
Using an online reservation system does not incur a charge and the user can simply cancel the reservation in case of a change of plan, and again the user receives an email confirmation of the cancellation. Some restaurants operate a customer loyalty or rewards program for loyalty,13 similar in concept to the 'air miles' scheme operated by a number of leading airlines. In summary, the restaurants that offer such schemes reward loyal customers who repeatedly dine at the restaurant by offering credits and eventually, when sufficient credits have been accumulated, a free meal is offered. 9
Web Based Dining Reservation Software's Advantages for Restaurant Management
Web based reservation system provides a number of benefits to the restaurant, these include: an automatic wait-list; records of customer preferences; history of food and drink that repeat a customer orders; table and waiter request. This additional customer specific information allows mangers to gain better and more detailed information about client requirements and provides information that can assist the managers to shape and develop a client friendly strategy. This enhanced client centric service offering can lead to a more efficient service and assist the restaurant to increase revenue.
The system keeps historical data such as email address, phone number, and the number of reservations that have been done.14 Data of cancellation or no shows guest helps managers to follow social-cultural people behavior.
Furthermore, an online reservation system automatically calculates available seats, time, cancellation and automatically sends a booking conformation. Hence, such a system assists the restaurant management's in providing a better service and creating more enjoyable guests dining experience.
Web Based Dining Reservation Software's Disadvantages for Customers
Typically, the hospitality business is associated with customer interaction and the service industry. New technology reduces the amount of personal interaction between the client and the service provider, and despite the many improvements offered by an online 10
reservation system; there are advantages with the client or service provider direct contact model. If we consider the client segment by generation and sometimes country where the consumers come from, we fine that amongst some client segments, such as the 'Baby Boomer' generation there is a strong preference for personal contact: they feel more comfortable talking with people. In such cases, a web based reservation system will cause some problems for people who prefer the traditional model in the Hospitality industry, where there is a high level of personal interaction than offered by a computerized service.
The online reservation concept may not be available to all potential customers at all times. For example, if we consider that certain types of hand held wireless devices such the iPhone provide easy access to such web based reservation systems15 However, there are a number of phones that simply do not offer these services, and in this case, the potential client target audience is restricted.
Web Based Dining Reservation Software's Disadvantages for Restaurant Management
Firstly, most technology driven innovations in the Hospitality industry have delivered a competitive method to attract consumers but latter it becomes a critical success factor and here managers have the ongoing challenge to update the technology and service offering, and specifically to target clients from wider market segmentation.
One of the biggest problems with an over reliance on technology is that there are can be unforeseen system lapses and unavailability for reasons ranging from power failure to software issues. In such cases, a restaurant can suffer if they rely mainly on their web based online 11
reservation system. Also, when a web based reservation system fails unexpectedly, data and reservation details can be lost, which can cause problems to the staff when guest arrive and managers have no any information about the reservation, hence. In such instances, the restaurant risk is losing customers.
Ways to Improve the Systems
Even thou the web based dining solutions looks very attractive and solve many problems which customers can face, this software still has a lot of corns. The reason for that can be lack of development, due to the low level of usage. But in order to generate more positive outcomes, the web-base dinning reservation system should be reliable and easy to used.
1) The system should be an easy software system for hotel operation that staff can handle and work at time. The system should also be an easy interface for customers, offers them a simple and efficient navigation. The system will be set up in way that they get to essential information without being lost inside a lot of amount of inputs.
2) The language use in the website should be clear, precise and fluid to help with low internet experience to use the channel. Choice among many languages (English, German, Spanish, Italian, French â€¦) will be given to the customer. This offer can attract more users in the system.
3) Most of the web-base dinning reservation system has a security procedure developed by the user property16 The level of security will depend of the type of restaurant .In a small establishment dinner restaurant, anyone with a generic password will be able to book while to prevent an accidently cancellation, the typed name which cancels
16 http://www.reserveinteractive.com/downloads/product-inserts/Dining-reservation.pdf 12
should match displayed name. In large restaurant, the security will allow exclusive cancellation to administration of the system.
4) Web-base dinning reservation system should develop trust of customers regarding the price on the products and the services they are purchased. The issues about transaction have to be clear easy understanding by all the customers, all the components of price will clearly be mentioned to not bring confusion about the total price.
5) The provider of the web- base dinning reservation system should set an option for customer to keep their reservation in a place of the system then valid it after awhile. Booking though the system is speed and this situation not allows the customers to read before choosing the different components of their reservation. This option should be restricted only if the booking have not been validated.
6) To be more efficient, future system should perhaps implement options like emails combined with the reservation base. The restaurant can then with the same system conduct his management and operation work.
7) The Follow up and update the data will be planned annually by the provider of the system and the chef office in charge of technologies in the Hotel. The action of follow up should not intervene only when there is a problem. The update is important to correct lack of the original data base and add more information and options base on the daily operational of the restaurant. 13
Web Based Restaurant Reservation Software is one of the channels, which is able to bring the competitive advantage to the firm. It brings benefits for customers and management in the same time. This kind of software can help maximize the overall efficiency of the restaurant as it make the reservation process more organized. In the same time it might help the businesses to track their revenues and expenses, what can help in budgeting and bring even more profit to the company. Also this type of the software can reduce the language barriers, while making the reservation. In the same this new technology reduces the amount of personal interaction between the client and the service provider, and despite the many improvements offered by an online reservation system.
This systems has their benefits and drawbacks, but with the careful development in is possible to make it more beneficial.
To sum it up I would like to state that dining enterprises need to pay special attention to investments made in adding any new reservation channel to the portfolio. Not every technological innovation brings income to the company. In my personal opinion, to understand if the dining reservation software is beneficial to the companies we have to watch every restaurant closely, as it too many factors, which would make this innovation useless tool or competitive advantage. Ultimately, restaurant should struggle for maximum quality of the customer service and minimal financial risk.17
17 Lui & Piccoli, 2010, p. 16 14