The Impact of Wi-Fi Analytics on Restaurants
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Data about customer interactions provides insights into the health of the business and also helps managers improve that health.
Consider healthy restaurants. When they’re full of diners, the operation hums and the cash register rings. This is a heavy traffic situation. Restaurant traffic isn’t always heavy, nor is it always predictable. Savvy restaurateurs want to understand customer traffic patterns better so they might shape it, and in doing so improve their business performance.
Thankfully for restaurants (and other types of businesses), technological opportunities abound. Guest Wi-Fi may be one of the strongest, thanks to the analytics restaurants harvest from it. That data nourishes the decisions managers make, and better decisions lead to healthier bottom lines.
Who are your customers?
Learning about customers helps leading restaurants improve business performance. There’s one problem: most managers can’t get to know every diner personally.
Fortunately, they don’t have to. Every device that enters a restaurant (with a diner presumably in tow) has a unique identifier known as a media access control (MAC) address. Mobile devices (unless they’re turned off), continually ping the immediate vicinity looking for Wi-Fi access points (APs) to connect to. The “pings” they emit consist of a package of information that contains the MAC address.
Meanwhile, the guest Wi-Fi APs scan for nearby devices. With this mutual digital desire to connect, it won’t be long before the APs and devices make one another’s acquaintance. When they do, the guest Wi-Fi network records the MAC address in a database, a digital “guest book.” It also takes notes about their behavior, like their length of stay and whether they’re a repeat customer.
When they do sign in using a captive portal, an intelligent (or state-of-the-art) Wi-Fi system can put a name and email address to the MAC address. When customers use social media accounts to sign in, robust customer profiles take shape. Age, gender and language are but some of the details the guest Wi-Fi network gleans.
Restaurant managers might not get to know all their customers, but the guest Wi-Fi network does get to know them through their devices. All of this information can be interpreted by a Wi-Fi analytics tool. The manager, in turn, gets all sorts of data, like busy times and average length of stay – but these insights only scratch the surface.
What can analytics tools tell managers about customer behavior?
Restaurant managers have all sorts of questions about diners that analytics tools can answer:
- How many diners are first-time customers?
- Do more first-timers visit after marketing campaigns?
- Do they come back?
- How many diners are repeat customers? When and how often do they stop by? How long do they stay?
- When do they tend to eat at the restaurant? Breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between?
- What are the traffic patterns near the restaurant? (walk-bys walk-ins)
Wi-Fi analytics can answer these and many other questions. When they do, restaurant managers can make more informed decisions that lead to the benefits listed below.
How can managers use guest Wi-Fi analytics data to improve restaurant performance?
It goes without saying that guest Wi-Fi analytics has proven popular among restaurant managers. It enables them to use historical data to:
- create better staffing models
- create marketing campaigns aimed at boosting business during slow periods
- determine performance of individual marketing campaigns
- track conversion rates of people who view the restaurant menu at the front door
- build better relationships with regular customers
- survey regular customers to determine why they became regulars
- battle customer churn, perhaps by enticing customers who haven’t visited in a while (and who have provided their email addresses)
- determine how patterns differ from one location of a chain restaurant to the next
When a restaurant manager considers the insights it can generate, it’s easy to justify a guest Wi-Fi network as part of marketing spend, as an indispensable business improvement tool.
From the moment diners log on to a guest Wi-Fi network, they tell managers much about how they interact with the restaurant – without staff having to ask them! Both overarching trends and specific outliers add up to valuable insights. Those insights can help managers improve staff scheduling and other operating costs, marketing campaigns, diner relations and, ultimately, restaurant profitability.