NEWS

WINNER! Cateys 2016: Best Use of Technology

Cateys 2016 - Winner Best Use of Technology - M Restaurants

We were lucky enough to win ‘Best Use of Technology’ at the Cateys 2016 Awards for our ‘Choose Your Table’ service in our restaurants! Read what The Caterer themselves had to say about the award…

We’re all used to choosing seats when booking flights, so why not offer the same service to restaurant diners? That was the thinking behind M Restaurants’ initiative to launch the interactive booking functionality on its website.

The innovative project sought to allow diners to not only choose their table at the point of booking, but also to see the table and their potential view. Using technology inspired by Google Street View, guests at M restaurants are able to take a virtual tour of a particular restaurant and walk the entire floor before picking a table that appeals.

M’s digital designer, James Barnard, worked with Los Angeles-based WalkInto, which usually creates virtual tours. The software allows elements to be placed on top of panoramas to highlight particular areas and offer notes about them. So at M Victoria, for instance, notes about booths on the virtual tour give advice to diners on what to quote when booking in order to secure the prime spot.

M Restaurants introduced the system, believed to be an industry first, to create a point of difference and an extra level of engagement with the diner. The system means that a guest’s hospitality experience begins at the point of booking and heightens the excitement by empowering the guest with choice and control over their dining experience.

M Restaurants says that the initiative has increased loyalty, as diners are reassured that they will have the exact experience that they have booked. The fact that they are already comfortable with their table has also meant that spend per head has risen as diners stay – and spend – longer.

In December 2015, M Threadneedle Street saw 31% like-for-like growth following the system launch with 9% of bookings generated through the ‘choose your table’ functionality.

All guests who booked using the system were first-time diners, and 82% have since returned as repeat business. This far exceeds the typical 39% repeat business experiences prior to the system’s installation.

Not only has the project been a great success, it has been implemented on a minimal budget. It was delivered in six days from instruction on a budget of £1,000 per restaurant.

And as well as the direct financial benefit, the innovation has led to in-depth press coverage in a number of publications, including The Caterer and the London Evening Standard.

Though the cost of the project was less than £1,000 per site, including the Google Street View cost of £500, M Restaurants’ seat and booth booking functionality has achieved acclaim, resulted in additional sales, and has also received strong interest from booking affiliates such as Opentable and Bookatable, who are keen to investigate partnering on the project in the future. And now it has been recognised with a Catey.

What the judges said

“This is clever use of disruptive, leading-edge technology, which empowers the customer to be an integral part of the booking process.”

Mike O’Mahoney

“Brilliant use of technology. Why on earth haven’t we done this before? I expect to see plenty more such projects in hotels and restaurants in the future.”

Liz Marlow

“An innovative use of disruptive new technology that will challenge the rest of the industry to take note and catch up.”

Carl Weldon
The shortlist

  • Amadeus
  • Last Call Operating Company
  • M Restaurants

The judges

  • Charles Boyd, Director, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London
  • Siobhan Fagan, IT Director, PizzaExpress
  • Liz Marlow, Social media manager, Sodexo
  • Stephen Minall, Director, Moving Food
  • Mike O’Mahoney, Chief financial officer, Giggling Squid Restaurants
  • Diana Spellman, Managing director, Partners in Purchasing
  • Bryan Steele, Head of IT, Royal Automobile Club
  • Carl Weldon, Chief operations officer – Europe, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals

Source: The Caterer