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SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

by David Klemt

Cheeseburgers and French fries in takeout containers on pass

SevenRooms continues to grow and develop innovative partnerships.

The platform’s newest partnership benefits the hospitality industry, operators, and consumers.

In joining forces with Olo, SevenRooms further helps restaurants, bars, and hotels position themselves to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

The Bleeding Edge

Olo, which literally stands for “Online Ordering,” predates the iPhone.

In fact, the company launched before smartphones were more than niche devices.

Upon its inception, Olo’s service consisted mainly of sending mobile coffee orders to restaurant printers via text message.

Like SevenRooms, Olo seeks to stay ahead of the consumer behavior curve:

  • 2005: Olo launches, anticipating coffee drinkers will eagerly embrace mobile ordering.
  • 2008: The company predicts fast-casual restaurants will become faster than fast food.
  • 2012: Olo envisions the redesigning of kitchen restaurants to include pickup windows.
  • 2015: The platform sees the future for foodservice is delivery.

Now, Olo is dedicated to making sure online ordering customers benefit from the industry’s digital transformation.

The Partnership

SevenRooms ensures clients who also use Olo can capture their off-premise customers’ information. That data then creates profiles for those customers automatically.

This partnership leverages SevenRooms CRM and marketing automation integration. Operators will be able to send post-order surveys to off-premise, online ordering customers automatically.

So, operators can learn what is and isn’t working off-premise; elevate the experience of off-premise customers to increase online order frequency; convert those customers to in-person guests; encourage repeat visits; and increase profitability.

Moving forward, SevenRooms and Olo users will get to know their off-premise customers better.

“To meet the ever-evolving needs of our hospitality clients, we’ve continued to seek out strategic partners who help us provide an even more comprehensive solution to operators,” says SevenRooms CEO and founder Joel Montaniel. “Our integration with Olo delivers on our promise of offering a 360-degree platform focused on helping operators build deeper, direct relationships across on- and off-premise experiences. This partnership facilitates better operational efficiency and online data capture, ultimately helping operators optimize the profitability of their delivery and takeout business while strengthening customer relationships. We are excited to welcome Olo to our partner network, and look forward to our continued collaboration to drive better, more streamlined solutions for the industry.”

Learn more about SevenRooms here. Click here to learn more about Olo.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian On-premise Sales Stabilizing

Canadian On-premise Sales Stabilizing

by David Klemt

Canadian flag in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A report from Restaurants Canada and Nielsen CGA shows that on-premise sales are steadying and, in some provinces, growing.

In fact, with the exception of Alberta being slightly down, Canada’s nationwide sales velocity looks promising in comparison to 2019.

Overall, Canada’s on-premise velocity is on the rise. Let’s take a look at how the three main provinces KRG Hospitality services are performing.

Alberta

To say that Alberta is down is a tad misleading. The province’s performance is nearly on par with 2019.

In comparison to 2019, Alberta is just -1 percent below in velocity levels.

Now, in comparison to 2020, the province is +46 percent. However, 2019 is a far more accurate gauge of performance.

While being down one percent is on the surface negative, growth in Calgary and Edmonton is highly encouraging.

In the week to August 21, Calgary’s velocity rose +4 percent, while Edmonton grew +10 percent. Those two cities are responsible for overall growth in velocity in Alberta of +4 percent.

Should the upward trend continue, Alberta will match and surpass 2019 quickly.

British Columbia

Of the three key provinces in which KRG Hospitality operates, BC is the second-best performing in comparison to 2019. Against 2020, BC is the third top performer.

Per Restaurants Canada and CGA, BC velocity is up +12 percent in comparison with 2019’s sales. The province is up +33 percent when compared to 2020.

In Vancouver, velocity is flat rather than experiencing negative growth. Any negative trends, according to the Restaurants Canada and CGA report, is coming from Victoria. That city is down -6 percent.

Ontario

Of our key Canadian markets, Ontario is performing the best overall.

Compare velocity to 2020 and the province is up +48 percent. In comparison to 2019, Ontario’s velocity is up +13 percent.

One can attribute current growth to Toronto. The Ontario city’s performance in the week to August 21 is +4 percent.

Canada

According to the report, sales velocity in Canada is up +2 percent overall.

Compare the country’s overall performance against 2020 and 2019, and Canada is trending upward. The nation’s on-premise velocity is up +41 percent in comparison to 2020 and +11 percent against 2019.

Clearly, the expectation is for the country’s on-premise performance to experience further growth as consumers return to in-person dining and restrictions loosen.

However, it’s important for operators to not simply return to pre-pandemic operations. Consumer behaviors have changed and many pandemic-driven habits—delivery, for example—are now permanent.

Further, now’s the time for those considering proceeding with plans to open restaurants, bars and hotels to move forward. In fact, Travis Tober, the guest from our milestone 50th episode of Bar Hacks, believes there’s no better time than now to open a hospitality venue.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Announces New Partnership

SevenRooms Announces Huge New Partnership

by David Klemt

Handshake emoji neon sign signifying partnership

SevenRooms announces today a major partnership that will change the game for operators in the UK, Australia, and across Europe.

The online reservation platform is entering a multi-year partnership with TheFork.

Fortunately, the hospitality industry, once slow to embrace new technology, is now adopting tech at a rapid pace.

This collaboration between SevenRooms and TheFork represents both a giant leap in tech innovation and support for our industry.

SevenRooms

By now, there should be no question that SevenRooms is among the most powerful tools an operator can wield.

On the surface, SevenRooms is “just” a reservation platform. In reality, the platform offers a full suite of guest engagement and retention tools; automated marketing tools; front- and back-of-house management; direct and third-party delivery management; and much more.

Additionally, the company has long been supportive of the hospitality industry. The founders didn’t just assume their reservation and engagement solutions were effective.

Rather, they spent time in the trenches. They took reservations, checked coats, and hung out with hospitality teams when their shifts were over.

During the pandemic, the platform studied the impact of third-party delivery on operators. To that end, they developed a launched a direct delivery module to help operators protect their bottom lines.

TheFork

Operating in more than 20 countries, TheFork is a TripAdvisor company.

Per TheFork, the company boasts more than 80,000 partner restaurants across the globe. Additionally, TheFork’s app has 28 million downloads and counting, and their site features over 22 million restaurant reviews.

In other words, TheFork enjoys a unique position in terms of connecting guests with restaurants.

The platform features a loyalty program; exclusive deals for guests who make reservations via TheFork; an “insider” feature that connects with guests with trendy and gourmet restaurants and entices them with a special offer; and more.

The Partnership

When one reviews how both platforms work, this partnership is a no-brainer. Going deeper, it appears the companies share similar values and commitment to the industry.

For example, SevenRooms subsidized more than $10 million in licensing fees to help operators during the pandemic. TheFork dedicated nearly $30 million to the industry within the 22 countries in which they operate.

This partnership is culminating in a two-way integration. Customers of SevenRooms will gain access to millions of diners who use TheFork to make reservations. In turn, TheFork now has access to SevenRooms’ marketing and venue management tools.

The result? Operators will be able to more easily and consistently fill their seats and attract new guests. The powerful tools that are at the disposal of SevenRooms customers will help to engage and retain those new guests, converting them to loyal regulars.

Hospitality seems to be steadily entering its Collaboration Era. Operators and platforms are seeking beneficial partnerships, all the while embracing more and more tech that enhances the guest experience and boosts the bottom line.

It will be exciting to see where we go from here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tip Elimination is Back on the Table

Tip Elimination is Back on the Table

by David Klemt

Person holding up cash

Several operators across the country feel that as we emerge from pandemic life, now is the time to once again try eliminating tips.

Back in 2015, Danny Meyer made a decision about tips in his restaurants that sent shockwaves through the industry. Over the course of five years, Union Square Hospitality Group (Meyer’s group) implemented a hospitality included policy to eliminate tipping.

To be sure, it wasn’t only Meyer’s restaurants that examined and put no-tipping policies in place. However, Union Square was certainly among the highest-profile operators to try it out.

Good Intentions

Per the CEO of Union Square and founder of Shake Shack, attempting to do away with tipping was about promoting equity in the hospitality.

Tipping has been linked to the propagation of sexism, racism, harassment, and exploitation.

Meyer has also said that he believes it leads to wage instability, and studies have shown it contributes to outright wage theft. And, as anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows, tipping can create a gap—and therefore tension, among other issues—between the front of house and back.

However, it has proven difficult to for no-tipping policies to take hold. This is in part because tipping is so ingrained in American society. And, of course, there’s also the issue of increasing menu prices; some people are fine with tipping but not with paying more for menu items.

Guests aren’t the only individuals who have pushed back against eliminating tips. Unsurprisingly, the very people Meyers and other operators are trying to help have rejected no-tipping policies.

Many servers and other FoH staff have made it clear that they’re not interested in working for an operator who eliminates tips.

Reinstatement of Tipping

Around eleven months ago, Meyer announced he would reverse course on his hospitality included policy. According to reporting, Meyer had done so not because of pushback against increased menu prices (about 15 to 20 percent to cover increased labor costs).

Rather, the five-year experiment never worked exactly as Meyer and Union Square had hoped. As he told Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart during a Washington Post Live conversation back in March of this year, the policy wasn’t sustainable.

“It worked to a degree, but it was not sustainable, and the biggest reason it wasn’t sustainable was we could never quite do all the things we wanted to do for our team members like make sure that a formerly tipped employee could make as much as she made when she was tipped, make sure that we had a 401(k) plan, make sure we had a really, really generous family leave policy,” Meyer told Capehart.

And then there was the impact of the pandemic. Meyer finally pulled the plug on his no-tipping policy after New York allowed restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining a year ago. Reportedly, Meyer didn’t see how he could stand in the way of his staff making additional money.

2021 Experiment

Interestingly, several news outlets are reporting that operators around the country are at least considering doing away with tips this summer.

Again, this is at least in part due to the pandemic. Restaurateurs who have wanted to implement policies similar to Meyers’ Hospitality Included see this year as the time to try.

We still don’t know exactly what post-pandemic life will be. However, a hospitality industry reset is certainly coming—and it’s absolutely overdue.

So, it does make sense that as operators can change guest and staff perception of tipping and living wages as we all emerge from pandemic life and face a new world.

For example, the Chicago Tribune has reported that Big Jones, owned and operated by Paul Fehribach, has implemented service fees so he can cover offer servers between $18 and $25 per hour. A 20-percent fee for in-person dining or placing an order with a live person, and a 10-percent fee attached to online orders go to Big Jones payroll.

While there has been some pushback, the Chicago Tribune reports that Fehriback says Big Jones reactions are trending toward the positive.

It’s possible that tip elimination simply doesn’t work for some restaurant categories. As an example, those policies may work out in the casual dining space but not fine dining. Time will tell if it works at all.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

EEOC Clarifies Vaccine Stance

EEOC Clarifies Vaccine Stance

by David Klemt

Covid-19 vaccine vial on blue background

American employers have the right to require Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

This is according to recent clarifications from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Perhaps learning from yet more missteps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEOC is making their position clearer.

Requirements

Per the EEOC, requiring workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine doesn’t violate federal law.

However, an employer failing to provide “reasonable accommodation” in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act would be illegal.

According to the EEOC’s guidance update:

“Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations. Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.”

Additionally, employers who offer on-site vaccinations take on an additional responsibility. They must keep confidential any personal medical information gleaned during employee pre-vaccination screenings.

Of course, the agency’s guidance isn’t only for employers. Employees can access a fact sheet explaining pandemic-specific protections that are in place.

Incentives

The EEOC’s update also addresses the right for employers to offer employees vaccine incentives.

In short, the agency says incentives are legal as long as they’re not coercive. Of course, legal experts will argue that one person’s perception of coercion will differ from another’s.

Really, the only example the EEOC provides for what may constitute a coercive incentive is “a very large incentive” that may make an employee “feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.”

Per a survey by Arizona State University and the Rockefeller Foundation, two-thirds of employers plan to offer vaccination incentives rather than mandates. However, nearly half say they’ll implement mandates if incentives don’t work. Only one-third of survey respondents don’t plan to impose vaccination requirements on employees.

Challenges

Look, we all know America is a litigious society. Given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some states have already banned vaccine requirements and passports.

Nor should it be a shock that lawsuits have been filed by employees challenging the legality of vaccine requirements. At least half of US states have introduced bills seeking to seek to limit COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Operators have a lot to consider when it comes to vaccine requirements and incentives. For example, offering the incentive that fully vaccinated employees can go maskless at work while non-vaccinated workers must wear masks can be a form of discrimination.

Beyond legal challenges, operators must also contend with public perception and backlash. With the divisions plaguing America currently, operators have a lot to think about before requiring Covid-19 vaccines for employees. While some guests will view such requirements as a responsible move that protects employees, guests and the public, others will see it as a massive violation of personal freedoms and a form of tyranny.

Truly, this is a time when operators must seriously draw on their leadership abilities, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Clearly, the topics of vaccine requirements and vaccine incentives necessitate careful consideration. This is an important leadership moment that hinges on an operator’s understanding of their team, their guests, and the market in which they operate.

Do not make vaccine decisions lightly.

Disclaimer

This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal or other advice. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Return of the Indoor Diners: B.C.

Return of the Indoor Diners: B.C.

by David Klemt

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada skyline

Good news for operators, foodservice professionals and the public as British Columbia prepares for a return to indoor dining.

The ban on indoor dining is set to expire tomorrow, along with the rest of B.C.’s so-called “circuit breaker” restrictions.

However, it remains unclear still whether restaurants can throw their doors open and welcome guests first-thing Tuesday morning.

Confusion

Some operators and restaurant advocacy groups believe the restriction on indoor dining expires at 11:59 PM tonight.

It follows, in their opinion, that the expiration means operators can offer indoor service the following morning, Tuesday, May 25.

Of course, it’s never that cut and dry, is it?

Much like the CDC’s recent update to mask and social distancing recommendations in America, B.C.’s restaurant restrictions are only causing confusion.

While the “circuit breaker” restrictions put in place back in March are set to expire, Premier John Horgan and other officials haven’t made it clear if more restrictions will be put in place.

Additionally, restaurant and other hospitality operators haven’t been given much notice. They’re simply aware that current restrictions expire before midnight tonight.

Consistently Inconsistent

It’s never great to feel like you’re on the back foot. Unfortunately, operators still don’t receive much in the way of a heads up when rules and recommendations change.

Once again, officials and the public make it clear that they think restaurants and bars can simply flip a switch and return to regular service. Once again, the industry and its challenges are ignored.

When those with the power to impose restrictions are vague about what operators should expect after their rules expire, it makes it nearly impossible for operators to prepare properly for what comes next.

Should operators plan on an increase in traffic because they can once again fill their dining rooms? Will they need to prepare for 25-, 50- or 75-percent capacity restrictions? Are their going to be limits to outdoor dining, delivery, carryout and curbside pickup?

How much F&B and other products should they order, planning for a return to indoor dining or more restrictions? In terms of staffing, should operators plan to run with a skeleton or full crew?

Every one of those questions—and several more—have an impact on resources, revenue and survivability. When officials fail to provide all the necessary information when making important announcements, they only cause confusion and create more questions than answers. Too often, they foist their responsibilities onto business owners and the public.

There’s no excuse.

Preparation

Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to offer operators in this situation. They’ll need to monitor the situation in B.C. and await clear guidance from government officials pertaining to any upcoming restrictions.

Yet again given no meaningful notice, it’s going to be difficult for operators to plan to get the most out of this week and the near future.

Still, operators will want to give staff notice that they should plan to work. It’s less than ideal but operators should plan to schedule against a few possibilities: a new indoor dining ban, indoor dining with capacity restrictions, and a full return indoor dining.

One of these days, perhaps politicians will listen to our massive industry’s requests and serve us better.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Continues Momentum with CFO

SevenRooms Continues Momentum with CFO

by David Klemt

Dollar signs finance concept

In hiring Pamela Martinez as the company’s chief financial officer, SevenRooms continues their drive toward global expansion.

This crucial hire continues years of constant movement forward for SevenRooms.

It’s no secret that we’re fans of this powerful, tech-driven platform, in part due to their support of direct delivery.

A History of Growth

What do you do when your erratic schedule keeps you from scoring restaurant reservations? You create a tech-based, flexible reservation platform.

Okay, maybe that’s not what we’d all do. But that is the solution the co-founders of SevenRooms chose in 2011.

It would take just six years for investors to take notice of the company’s potential for growth.

SevenRooms counts Comcast Ventures, Alexa Fund (Amazon), and Providence Strategic Growth as investors. So confident in the platform’s growth is Providence Strategic Growth that their investment of millions of dollars took place in 2020.

High-profile clients include TAO Group, Bloomin’ Brands, Topgolf, Virgin Hotels, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Zuma, and LDV Hospitality. SevenRooms has been the system of record for all F&B venues across the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s portfolio.

Of course, SevenRooms serves independents of all sizes as well.

SevenRooms Hires CFO

Pamela Martinez is the first chief financial officer at SevenRooms. Her role is to accelerate the platform’s already impressive momentum and growth.

Martinez certainly has the experience to help further solidify SevenRooms’ status as one of the best guest experience platforms.

When she was at HubSpot, a marketing an CRM platform, the company grew from $75 million in annual recurring revenue to $1 billion in ARR.

“As SevenRooms continues to grow, I am thrilled to welcome Pamela to our team to help take us to the next level. Her proven track record helping to scale businesses and build out new financial structures made her the right choice for our company as we enter our next growth stage,” says Joel Montaniel, CEO and co-founder of SevenRooms.

Further growth will lead to more solutions and resources for SevenRooms clients. We’re eager to see how Martinez will help expand the platform and its capabilities.

“Despite the incredible challenges hospitality operators have faced over the past year, the industry has remained strong and I’ve been inspired by all SevenRooms has done to help its partners stay resilient,” says Martinez.

Read the announcement in its entirety on the SevenRooms website.

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