by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hotels, Guest Data and Guest Expectations

Hotels, Guest Data and Guest Expectations: A Chat with SevenRooms

Fountains outside Bellagio Las Vegas

We sit down with Austen Asadorian, vice president of sales at SevenRooms, to chat about pent-up demand for travel.

People are eager to get back out there and hotels, of course, play a crucial role in their travel plans. However, we’re not engaging with the same guests we were pre-pandemic.

No, today’s guest demands more from the hotels and resorts they select. And a key to delivering on guest demands is collecting guest data.

But while operators know they’re supposed to be collecting guest data, there’s some uncertainty about what to actually do with it. Enter: SevenRooms.

More accurately, meet Austen Asadorian of SevenRooms. Not only can he address meeting guest demands through tech, he can address how to use guest data responsibly and effectively.

Hi Austen, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at SevenRooms?

Thanks, David! My name is Austen Asadorian and I’m the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms. I first started my career in hospitality early in high school, getting a job at a local restaurant in New Jersey, learning everything from protein fabrication to catering and dealing with daily customers, even managing events. I continued working in hospitality through college, while going to the Culinary Institute of America for a degree in hospitality management, and ultimately, landed at Hillstone Restaurant Group where I ran back of house operations as well as the company’s Manager Training Program. Before joining SevenRooms, I worked as Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading their go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion from 2014-2017.

Today, I support SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts to accelerate our goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators around the world. Having previous experience in the hospitality industry, I joined SevenRooms because I was hyper aware of the pain points in the industry surrounding technology and the need for better guest management after having lived it day-to-day for several years. More importantly, I believe in SevenRooms’ vision and have a true passion for helping hospitality businesses, big and small, drive revenue, and create loyal guests for life.

Let’s talk hotels. What does the hotel industry look like two years after (or into) the Coronavirus pandemic?

When the pandemic struck, travel came to a complete halt and hotel occupancy in the US fell from 70% in March 2019 to less than 25% in March 2020—rooms were empty. Now, as the world is back to what we can consider a new “normal,” we’re seeing an extreme surge in travel and hotels are busier than ever.

However, what guests expect from hotels experience-wise has changed and they demand more. They’re making up for lost time and they want to make it count. Coming out of the pandemic, hotel operators are taking a harder look at their entire tech stack. It’s no longer optional to have a tech stack that is fully integrated from top to bottom across their operations—it’s a must-have—and technology providers are adapting to meet those needs. Additionally, operators have put a strong emphasis on the importance of ownership over their guest data. Both trends have positioned SevenRooms incredibly well within the hotel sector, as this has been our business philosophy from day one.

How can hotel operators and managers live up to these high expectations?

The simple answer is by taking advantage of technology solutions into their everyday practices and processes. These tech solutions can be anything from a QR code for mobile order and pay, allowing guests to order food and drink from anywhere on the property without ever needing a server to approach them, to an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platform that speaks to and pulls data from their F&B CRM, easily sharing that information across teams at the hotel. For example, passing information along to a guest services team to ensure that in-room amenities don’t include nuts if a guest has a peanut allergy.

Operators and managers should also make sure they’re utilizing loyalty programs. According to a recent SevenRooms survey of American consumers, 44% say that loyalty programs play a part in their hotel choice and there are certain incentives that will bring them back.

For example, some want loyalty points to enjoy on property restaurants and bars, whereas others want a personal greeting when they check in, or a complimentary glass of champagne waiting for them when they get to their room.

Technology and loyalty programs both play into an exceptional experience and it’s important for operators to use both to create the total package.

You mentioned collecting guest data. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that is so important?

When we talk about data and hotels, we’re talking about using it to power a one-of-a-kind unique experience. We don’t mean taking or selling personal information, and that’s an important distinction.

The data we’re collecting for operators centers around a guest’s profile—who they are and what they like. This can be anything from their dietary preferences to their favorite table in the hotel restaurant’s dining room, to what dessert they order most often when they visit.

By having this data, operators can build a direct relationship with these guests and, in turn, build an incredible experience that keeps them coming back. For example, if a guest stays at a specific hotel on their vacation and takes full advantage of the pool cabanas, the data collected on those visits can then be used to retarget them with a special marketing promotion or offer to visit their local hotel property for a staycation, complete with a discount on a cabana day rental.

Creating these unique, personalized experiences not only increases revenue for operators, but also drives loyalty, as a loyal guest is more important than a one-time guest.

About Austen

Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company’s goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company’s go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Image: Antonio Janeski

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Kicks Off 2022 with Growth

SevenRooms Kicks Off 2022 with Growth

by David Klemt

Restaurant worker using SevenRooms on tablet

SevenRooms continues their growth by kicking off 2022 with the announcement of a new, crucial addition to the team.

Today, the hospitality technology company announces the hiring of Brent-Stig Kraus. Formerly the senior vice president of sales for ChowNow, Kraus will take on the role of chief revenue officer at SevenRooms.

As CRO, Kraus will play a crucial role in further accelerating SevenRooms’ impressive global growth. The company’s new CRO will accomplish this goal by identifying and pursuing partnership opportunities, targeting high-growth sales, and scaling sales globally.

Steady Growth

In March of last year, SevenRooms brought on Pamela Martinez as the company’s chief financial officer.

By September of 2021, the platform announced a multi-year partnership with TheFork. In particular, this was major news for operators throughout Europe and Australia. Additionally, this partnership illustrates how SevenRooms is pursuing long-term global growth.

A month later, in October of last year, the company entered into a partnership with Olo. In doing so, SevenRooms ensures clients who also use Olo can capture their off-premise customers’ information. That data then creates profiles for those customers automatically, meaning operators can learn more about and effectively market to customers who engage with them via online orders.

In December of 2021, SevenRooms and ThinkFoodGroup—the hospitality company behind Chef José Andrés’ portfolio of restaurants—announced their partnership. Interestingly, this partnership sees ThinkFoodGroup joining SevenRooms in an advisory role.

And it’s not just filling crucial C-suite roles and entering into partnerships that benefit operators and the industry that are examples of SevenRooms’ rapid growth.

Along with hiring Martinez as CFO, the platform launched Direct Delivery in March 2021. This online ordering solution helped operators eliminate third-party fees; retain control of guest data; and fulfill guest desire to order from restaurants directly and seamlessly.

Finally, the company ended 2021 by sharing their 2022 trend predictions.

Why this Matters

Tech innovations are crucial to the long-term future of the hospitality industry. Restaurateurs, bar owners, and hoteliers, were once wary of adopting new tech.

Now, they’re investing more to streamline operations; automate reservations, online ordering, and marketing campaigns; and improving customer and staff relationships.

However, without growth a platform eventually becomes outdated. When that happens, the investment made by an operator to include it in their tech stack becomes a burden and liability.

As SevenRooms continues their growth, they prove worthy of an operator’s support and investment. We continue to support SevenRooms—without receiving any compensation for doing so—in large part because of the platform’s growth.

In addition to their available tools, we’re always eager to see what they’ll release next to make life simpler for operators.

Image: SevenRooms

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

by David Klemt

Square terminal in restaurant kitchen

As all hospitality professionals know, the past nearly two years is imposing rapid change on the industry, necessitating rapid, strategic adaptation.

The key word in the above sentence isn’t “adaptation,” it’s “strategic.”

Of course, it’s hard to make strategic choices without as much information as possible.

To that end, we’ve reviewed Square‘s recently released “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition.” This is the company’s second annual Future of Restaurants report.

Square partnered with Wakefield Research, surveying 500 operators and 1,000 consumers to identify 2022 threats and opportunities.

Threat: Labor Shortage

Most operators aren’t going to want to read this prediction from Square. However, we can’t identify and adapt for opportunities if we don’t acknowledge threats.

Per Square’s report, the labor shortage may never see a correction. In other words, welcome to yet another new normal.

More than 70 percent of operators say they’re facing a labor shortage, per Square. Just over 20 percent of available positions were, at the time the survey was conducted, unfilled.

Instead, operators will likely, according to Square, need to make operational and work culture changes:

  • Improve working conditions. For example, encouraging and acting on team feedback. Another example? Modernizing scheduling.
  • Ensure workers are being mentored and not simply managed.
  • Hire, train, assign tasks, and schedule more strategically to operate with a smaller team.
  • Offering incentives that entice higher-quality candidates to work for you.

One participant quoted in the Square report claims that QR code ordering dropped their labor cost percentage by 150 percent.

Threat: Lack of Tech

As SevenRooms suggested when looking forward to 2022, technology solutions can lessen the burden of labor shortages. That leads us to another big threat: failing to embrace tech.

Some operators bristle at the word “automation.” For many, it conjures an image of robots in the kitchen and delivering food to tables.

Obviously, we’re opposed to replacing staff with any form of automation. However, we support automating tasks if that means team members are better utilized.

Why not automate inventory? Why not automate online order filling? If it improves operations and the guest experience, automation is less threatening.

According to Square’s report, 62 percent of operators think automation is appealing for managing online, delivery, and contactless orders. Ninety percent of operators say that back-of-house automation—if staff can focus on more important tasks—is a good idea.

More than 90 percent think automated inventory is an appealing solution.

It has taken a lot of time for hospitality to catch up to other industries in embracing tech. But Square reports that 36 percent of restaurants upgraded their business tech in 2021.

Of course, automation will become a threat if operators lean too heavily into it and stop paying attention to detail.

Phrased another way, be tech-savvy, not tech-reliant.

Opportunity: Omni-channel

Square see implementing an omni-channel strategy as the way forward. In fact, their general manager for Square Restaurants, Bryan Solar, said the following:

“We see the time of the dine-in only or takeout only as largely done forever.”

Going omni-channel (diversifying) in the restaurant space means making online ordering and delivery important elements within the overall business strategy. To that end, Solar posits kitchens will grow in size to better handle online orders.

Square’s survey reveals some intriguing numbers:

  • 13 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid restaurants that don’t offer online ordering.
  • Among restaurants with online ordering, those channels generate 34 percent of their revenue.
  • Over the past year, 54 percent of restaurants either added or expanded online ordering channels.
  • Online ordering is likely here to stay: 69 percent of respondents plan to offer it post-Covid-19.
  • 24 percent of operators are planning to allow guests to order alcohol from them online.

Another interesting set of numbers pertains to first- and third-party delivery. As we’ve stated several times, we much prefer operators offer first-party or direct delivery. According to Square, 49 percent of operators plan go direct delivery. More than half—62 percent—will pursue third-party delivery. That suggests that some operators will offer both.

Opportunity: Direct Ordering

When it comes to engaging online guests, operators need to control the experience. As I wrote for another publication years ago, a restaurant or bar’s website is still very important.

This statistic proves that statement true: Per Square, 68 percent of online guests want to order via a restaurant’s website or app, not a third-party.

More than likely, a significant portion of those guests want to know they’re supporting a restaurant and its staff directly. Hence the importance placed on ordering via the website or their own branded app.

So, operators would do well to ensure their websites feature an ordering widget. Or, they can opt to have an app built (or at least skinned) for their business.

Opportunity: Kiosks

According to Square’s survey results, 79 percent of consumers prefer ordering from kiosks over ordering from staff.

Most consumers and operators likely associate ordering kiosks with fast food restaurants. However, other categories can also benefit from these devices.

Close to half—45 percent—identified it as a preference when ordering at a casual-dining restaurant.

And fine dining isn’t immune to the convenience of tech. A little over 20 percent of consumers prefer to order via kiosk in the fine-dining space.

Overall, kiosks speak to the guest desires for convenience and safety. More than a third indicated that ordering via digital menu is appealing because they don’t have to touch a menu someone else has touched. And 37 percent like a digital option because they don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a physical menu.

Eleven percent of Square survey respondents will avoid a restaurant if they don’t offer digital menus.

Nearly half (45 percent) of restaurants are planning to offer QR code menus post-Covid-19. Another benefit of digital menus is dynamic pricing. As costs fluctuate, operators can increase or reduce prices easily without printing new menus.


Representing a stark contrast from 2020 survey results, nearly 60 percent of operators say the survival of their restaurants is a concern in 2022.

That’s still a high number but vastly lower than how operators answered about 2021. Last year, 92 percent of operators surveyed said they were worried about survival.

According to Square’s report, operators are looking past surviving and making long-term plans. That’s a welcome sign that confidence is improving.

To review Square’s “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition” report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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

How SevenRooms Improves Operations

How SevenRooms Improves Operations

by David Klemt

Reviewing and analyzing customer data on a laptop computer

It’s true that SevenRooms is a reservation management platform. However, it’s so much more powerful than that.

Simply put, if the platform wasn’t simple to use and integrate with other systems, they wouldn’t be celebrating their tenth year.

A recent interview via Clubhouse highlights why now, more than ever, operators need to seriously consider SevenRooms.


Guy Clarke, founder of Sizzle Dining, spoke with two key SevenRooms team members in a casual but informative Clubhouse chat.

Allison Page, SevenRooms co-founder and Chief Product Officer, and Marybeth Sheppard, senior vice president of marketing, fielded Clarke’s questions.

Interestingly, Page admits SevenRooms took five to seven years to really fine-tune operations. In fact, she says that the team didn’t quite know exactly what they were offering for the first year or two.

Now, the “reservation” platform has truly hit their stride. The company doesn’t just manage reservations, it provides powerful solutions: a full suite of operational tools; table management; and guest experience and retention capabilities.

Of course, many tech platforms claim to help operators. However, SevenRooms is now enjoying a decade in business.

Their longevity is, in part, due to their approach to hospitality. As Page tells it, the founders didn’t just enter the industry believing they could “fix it” with tech.

Plenty of tech folks have identified problems in hospitality, boasted about their “common sense” solution, and exited after finding out how challenging the business is.

Instead, the SevenRooms team spent time in the trenches. According to Page, they took reservations, checked coats, and more. They spent time with hospitality workers after hours and got to know them.

What’s with that Name?

I’ve written several articles about SevenRooms. However, I’ve never addressed why the founders chose that name.

When asked by Clarke during the Clubhouse chat, Page provided the answer.

Turns out, the name is a loose nod to Graydon Carter’s “Seven Rooms Theory.” The theory speaks to navigating social status in New York City. In short, it posits that the NYC social scene consists of seven consecutive “rooms,” each with a secret door. Find the secret door, move to the next room.

Of course, SevenRooms isn’t about exclusivity. Instead, SevenRooms is helping operators reach the seventh “room,” which is a lasting relationship with a guest. The six previous rooms are a journey toward understanding that guest and making them loyal by delivering incredible guest experiences.

Why SevenRooms Works

If this seems like a shameless plug for SevenRooms, well, it sort of is. They didn’t pay me, Doug or KRG Hospitality to promote the platform; we just like what SevenRooms can do for operators.

In an industry that has until recently been slow to innovate when it comes to tech, the platform has been improving restaurant and hotel operations for years.

According to Page, SevenRooms has a simple operating philosophy that drives the company: “Make small big, make big small.” SevenRooms is driven to help small, independent operations punch well above their weight class. The platform gives independent operators the same capabilities as their large chain counterparts.

Conversely, SevenRooms gives enterprise operators an effective way to deliver the engaging experiences that independents offer their guests.

However, there are other reasons SevenRooms is so worthy of consideration: simplicity.

SevenRooms is all about collecting data. Of course, data does no good if an operator doesn’t know what to do with it. If they had to analyze and leverage it on their own, they’d need to employ data scientists and an entire marketing team.

Well, SevenRooms employs those people instead so operators don’t need to. An operator doesn’t need to be a data scientist to use the information they collect through the platform. Marketing campaigns are automated and engaging, and require little effort from the end user.

Reduce Costs, Increase Revenue

As Sheppard explains, SevenRooms manages and, more importantly, helps maximize a restaurant’s floor.

Looking to increase turns? Done. Want every seat to generate revenue? Smart seating makes that possible. According to Sheppard, SevenRooms’ auto-assign seating functionality is worthy of operators’ trust. Additionally, the platform’s CRM, table management and marketing tools help staff upsell guests.

Speaking of automated functions, Sheppard provides insight into SevenRooms auto-tagging. The platform assigns automated tags that make it simple for staff to understand the guests they’re serving. Some examples are:

  • Burger lover
  • Red wine lover
  • Big tipper
  • Loves expensive wine
  • No-showed twice

Just those five examples show how SevenRooms helps operators and their teams maximize the guest experience to generate revenue. So, how does the platform reduce costs?

First, investing in SevenRooms reduces an operator’s overall tech stack investment. It integrates with around 50 POS systems and offers several tools (modules), meaning an operator doesn’t need to purchase several platforms that may not integrate with one another.

Second, the reservation and table management tools streamline an operator’s business. When team members are focusing on revenue-generating tasks, the floor is being sat more efficiently, and guests are being wowed, costs are driven down and revenue is driven up.

Then, there’s the “hidden” benefit. As Sheppard says, hospitality is a passion-driven industry. Unfortunately, there are many “non-passion” tasks that must be accomplished for operators to make money and keep their doors open.

Those tasks can take a toll, leading to an operator to fall out of love with the industry and their own concept. Well, SevenRooms takes several of those tasks (sifting through data, creating marketing campaigns, figuring out how to maximize the floor, etc.) and automates them.

Therefore, operators have more time to program menus, mentor team members, forge relationships with guests by touching tables, and more.

To request a SevenRooms demo, click here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

by David Klemt

Ordering kiosks and the convenience they offer have become more commonplace, even before the pandemic plunged its claws into the world.

In addition to the convenience factor, self-ordering kiosks provide guests with a contactless option that keeps them and front-of-house workers safer than ordering face to face.


This technology was on its way from trend to operational mainstay long before Covid-19 savaged the planet and tore through the hospitality industry.

The presence of ordering kiosks at the National Restaurant Association Show reportedly tripled from 2017 to 2018. Quick-service, fast-casual restaurants and limited-service were earlier adopters of self-ordering tech.

It took just a couple of years for McDonald’s, as an example, to outfit thousands of locations with such kiosks.

For several months, industry pros and experts have been saying there clearly defined types of guests with which operators will have to contend post-pandemic:

  • Those who will comfortably return to restaurants and bars, treating them as they did pre-pandemic.
  • Those who will return to in-person restaurant and bar visits cautiously.
  • Those who won’t return to in-person dining until they have been vaccinated and are confident others have been as well.

One can see how self-ordering kiosks appeal to cautious guests, along with those who will use them but take their order to-go.

Types of Kiosks

Anecdotal evidence suggests there are three types or styles of kiosks that are most prevalent: terminals, tablets and tabletop systems.

Ease of function and integration has made tablet-based systems popular.

Toast and TouchBistro are two of the most popular restaurant POS systems on the market, and both offer kiosk functionality. Toast is Android-based, TouchBistro is iOS-based.

Some operators choose to mount their tablet-based kiosks on countertops, some create ordering locations with tablets affixed to stands.

There are also kiosk terminals that are similar in size to ATMs, not based on tablets, and Windows-based.

ADA Compliance

Similar to how it’s important for operators to consider their guests and comfort levels with new (or newer) tech, consideration must be paid to ADA compliance when choosing kiosks.

No guest should feel alienated, excluded, forgotten about, or valued less than other guests. Counter- and table-top ordering devices should be easily accessible by all guests, as should tablet-based systems mounted to free-standing pedestals.

Operators who choose larger ordering terminals must appraise such systems on their ADA compliance. Last week, the Kiosk Manufacturers Association posted a 14-point ADA compliance checklist that end users can use to assess whatever kiosk is under consideration.

Kiosk Manufacturers Association ADA checklist

Image: Kiosk Manufacturers Association

One can read through the checklist in its entirety here, which includes such considerations as:

  • Depth, clearance, maneuvering and protruding objects.
  • Assistive considerations like Braille and tactile guidance.
  • Assistive technologies such as speech-output enabled display screens.
  • The Big Seven: Captions, contrast, audio, focus, target size, errors and labels

Self-ordering tech and kiosks will continue to evolve and become part of everyday operations for several foodservice business categories. While they may not become commonplace in the fine-dining space, they’re likely to dominate QSRs and fast-casual, and gain more traction in casual and family dining.

Not every restaurant, bar or hotel will benefit from this self-ordering kiosks. Operators who want to implement this tech must consider initial investment, POS integration, hardware, guest comfort, and ADA compliance.

Image: Christiann Koepke on Unsplash