Mobile POS a game changer for hotels

Agilysys Flex

This article is part one of a three-part series on point of sale. Look to next week’s newsletters for parts two and three.

Imagine a pool or any other outdoor space with obstacles, such as a beach or golf course. Servers are running to guests and taking orders. On their way back to the fixed terminal, which is a good 40 yards away, several other guests stop them along the way, giving them more orders. Each server is then entering all the orders at one time, creating a huge spike for the kitchen and the bar.

“That is the best example of why hotels and resorts should be using mobile point-of-sale,” said Teri Howe, principal product manager for the Infogenesis product line at Agilysys. “It is a literal game changer for the hotel industry. The guest has actually paid more money [because they are ordering more] and is actually happier with that.”

Orders can hit the kitchen 20 minutes faster than going to a fixed terminal, allowing orders to be spaced out. The food can be delivered fresh and either hotter or colder than from a fixed terminal, Howe said. “Once I know your order has already hit the kitchen, I can connect with the guest and become a brand ambassador for the hotel—making a lasting connection that I’m not otherwise able to do,” Howe described. “This can create a big impact to loyalty and why guests decide to come back.”

Mobile brings a lot of opportunity to interact with the guest in a different way than the traditional back-of-the-restaurant way, said Nick Low, senior solution manager for Oracle. “You can turn the dining experience into a fast-casual transaction because the mobile POS is right there with the server—allowing for questions and corrections to be made immediately and the order to be placed as quickly as possible.”

The speed of service can provide a higher level of service and is much more adaptive to the diner’s needs, such as allowing children’s meals to be placed first, Low said. He said Oracle clients have seen higher check averages because of mobile POS and have captured a higher rate of diners because the service has improved. One client removed a fixed workstation and replaced it with a two-top table—that two-top paid for the property’s tablets in just a few weeks.

But mobile POS may not be right for every hotel, warned Chris Donahue, director for product management for Springer-Miller Systems. “There is a growing interested around POS mobility/pay-at-the-table functionality; however, it varies quite significantly from client to client based on their type of establishment,” he said. “For instance, a formal fine-dining operation typically has less interest in mobility than say a high-volume, poolside bar and eatery.”

Howe described one Las Vegas property client who has high-end cabanas around its pool area. Since implementing mobile POS, the property has seen a 76-percent increase in revenue and a 4-percent reduction in staff. Tips went up more than 76 percent, proving guests’ happiness with the speed in which they were getting their orders, which in turn increased server adoption. “Greater revenue and greater wallet share? It’s a big win-win for the hotel,” she said.

The current mobile POS systems expand beyond the traditional POS functions, and present platforms for bookkeeping, analytics, etc., which allow the decision-makers to have a better perspective on what happens in their operation by using only one type of system, said Cristian Morosan, assistant professor at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College.

“In addition, analytics functions can be greatly enhanced by allowing connections from the POS system to customer databases, which can, in turn, enhance the quality of communication and improve customer relations,” he said.