Most industries have felt a dramatic change as part of the ongoing data revolution. Hospitality is no exception. With a labor crisis approaching, guest expectations evolving rapidly, and tempting rewards for restaurants willing to experiment, there are dozens of reasons a restaurant might start taking advantage of all the data it collects every day. As data collection and analytics become that much more powerful, data may move from a tool that provides a competitive edge to an essential part of every restaurant’s toolkit.

Many in the food service industry do not realize just how much data they collect on a given day of service. From transaction data at point of sale, to the kitchen and everything in between, there are data points being collected.[1] Even without complex software or outside analytics help, restaurants compare their sales for which items are often purchased together to help inform future recommendations. Restaurants are asking simple questions with significant answers.

For example, what time do these dishes reach their peak in sales? Do certain dishes lead to dessert purchases more often? How does social media activity correspond to new and returning customers?

Beginning with these questions, data becomes less overwhelming and far more useful. More often than ever, restaurants are not taking on these questions alone. Consultants have access to professionals experienced with potent software and the data itself.[2] Data becomes more efficient and manageable every day, allowing for more and more complex questions to be asked and answered.

One of the most popular trends making its way through the industry today is the drive toward personalization. Restaurants want to make their food and experience memorable by tailoring each service to a customer’s preferences. This process is prohibitively expensive and laborious without leveraging data.[3] From storing a customer’s favorite food and drink to developing loyalty programs that offer targeted promotions based on a guest’s past purchasing profile, there are multiple layers at which personalization can occur.[4]

As these trends develop and challenges to the industry occur, it is almost inevitable that data will find its way into the toolkits of restaurants large and small. Every day technology becomes more affordable and convenient. Even better, as more restaurants tap into data the more data enters shared systems, making profiles richer and therefore useful for everyone.