Whether you have been working in the restaurant industry for years, or are new to the scene, it’s impossible not to have been confronted by the question of whether to offer guest Wi-Fi in your establishment. With recent statistics reporting that more than three out of four adults own a Smartphone, and further, that most people in the industrialized world have an average of three Internet-connected devices, it cannot be denied that our society is more connected than ever before. This is true in the home and workspace, but also applies to all manners of socializing, including going out to dinner, grabbing coffee or having a drink at a local bar. Consumers today therefore expect Wi-Fi in most places they frequent, especially restaurants. In fact, research from restaurant point of sale provider Toast found that free Wi-Fi service is the second-most important technical feature that diners want. As such, if you aren’t providing your guests with free Wi-Fi, you are falling far short of their expectations, and not reaping the many benefits complimentary guest Wi-Fi offers.
Below are a few key reasons why offering guest Wi-Fi in your restaurant is essential to your success
Offering free Wi-Fi in your dining establishment is an excellent way to drive business. Better still is being able to advertise that you offer free Wi-Fi. If someone is trying to decide between two dining spots and one is advertising complimentary guest Wi-Fi, nine times out of 10, the venue that offers free Internet will win out. This is especially true for millennials who spend a large portion of their dining experience on social platforms; sharing details, images and reviews of their dining experience.
Customers’ appetites for connectivity have become insatiable. Fortunately, thanks to complimentary Wi-Fi, savvy restaurateurs have learned how to capitalize on this growing trend. It’s a no brainer really – customers who frequent your location and connect to your guest Wi-Fi will likely spend more time on the premises than they otherwise would, giving you plenty of opportunity to upsell with another drink, another coffee, or even dessert, in exchange for the comfort, ease and convenience of continuing to freely access the Internet. In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Better Business Together, over half of businesses surveyed report that providing free Internet access had led to sales growth. A net win for everyone.
The benefits of granting diners free Wi-Fi are not unidirectional. Not only can you acquire valuable feedback via online surveys, but your guest Wi-Fi can also help you gather additional customer data such as how frequently they visit, how much they use the Wi-Fi, what their usual order is, and much more. The information that is collected provides key details that inform you about your clientele – their likes, dislikes, habits and interests. All of which can be parlayed into initiatives that drive sales and increase loyalty. Your Wi-Fi investment can also be leveraged to allow for the deployment of targeted marketing initiatives such as advertising, promotions, rebates and coupons in exchange for the completion of surveys, or comments on service. The value of this customer data cannot be overstated, to help restaurants guide operational and promotional efforts.
Assessing information from recent surveys, we can say that a majority of diners would feel a greater sense of customer loyalty to a restaurant that is offering Wi-Fi – restaurants have already witnessed this impact from gauging their recurring business. Leveraging complimentary Wi-Fi to enhance marketing efforts is perhaps one of the most overlooked yet effective tools for restaurants looking to increase engagement, loyalty, and customer retention. Wi-Fi marketing allows you to deliver targeted, location-based content to specific customers or customer groups. Segmenting your customer base can be crucial in data-driven marketing efforts. Customer segmentation can directly help increase marketing ROI, email clicks, brand recognition, and overall customer engagement. Further, marketing to your customers, or customer groups, at the right place and time will help increase customer conversion because you’ll be sending them relevant information and offers that are specific to them, which can go a long way to driving customer loyalty.
Those unfamiliar with your neck of the woods and looking for a place to grab a quick bite to eat will most likely search the Internet for restaurants in their vicinity. Besides an inviting exterior, and delicious looking menu, another deciding factor in restaurant selection is access to free Wi-Fi. Customers that are simply walking by your business and suddenly spot your network on their smartphones will often be drawn to your venue simply on the basis of this free service. As such, providing guest Wi-Fi can quite literally put your business on the map for individuals who may not otherwise notice you. Further, most people nowadays use GPS and social mapping services like Google Maps, Yelp and Foursquare to find businesses. In turn, statistics tell us that one of the top amenities customers look for in a restaurant is free Wi-Fi. Offering complimentary guest Wi-Fi can also help you attract groups of professionals, for instance, who may be looking for a venue where they can have informal meetings outside of the traditional workspace.
In today’s digital age, restaurants cannot afford to ignore social media. A customer’s initial impression happens quickly. Therefore, your social media accounts must accurately represent your business and showcase the food that comes out of your kitchen. Punchy posts and tasteful, high quality images are key, and can go a long way to attracting new customers. You can also choose to offer social Wi-Fi in your venue, thus allowing your customers to log into your Wi-Fi using their social accounts, which basically translates into free advertising. In addition, you can build on customers who are using your Wi-Fi by running digital marketing campaigns specifically targeting them and other potential customer groups with similar interest.
There are so many reasons to introduce guest complimentary Wi-Fi into your restaurant – are you reaping the benefits?