Boka Group personalises every guest experience with pre-shift reports

How better data enabled the restaurant group
to offer the best hospitality possible

Type of restaurant
Restaurant group

23 locations in
Chicago and Los Angeles

Year founded

The hospitality industry is centred on welcoming in and taking care of people. But in an age where eye contact has been replaced with touchscreens, restaurants are fighting to fulfil what their diners crave most: personalised human interaction. The emergence of technology is certainly not all bad—in fact, technology has offered many restaurants the opportunity to grow and expand. For the Boka Restaurant Group, that meant expanding from their first location in 2003 to now their 23rd location in 2020.

Larry Flam, Operations Manager at Boka Group, pointed out an added complexity that came with their growth: “Now we have company-loyal diners, regulars from one Boka location coming to another location for the first time. This gives us the opportunity to approach that table in a completely different way because we know they understand the Boka way of doing things. So the guests are new in one sense, but really they are like an old friend.”

Boka came to OpenTable with the challenge to use guest data to create more personalised experiences across their group.

Making personalisation scalable

The untapped opportunity resided in data for each individual guest. By connecting Boka’s POS systems with OpenTable profiles of past and future reservations, OpenTable created robust guest profiles for each diner at each Boka location.

A previously unknown guest could now be distinguished as Mark Smith, a first time diner at GT Fish & Oyster, but a group regular from GT Prime who dined three times in the last month, always orders the Beef Tenderloin paired with California Pinot Noir, prefers water with no lemon, left feedback via OpenTable 19 days ago, enjoys posting on Facebook from time to time, and has a lifetime spend of ,637.

Applied to every guest across the entire group, the Boka staff was empowered to personalise experiences: “We train our servers to understand a guest’s likes and dislikes so that they can keep that in mind. If a guest is consistently ordering red wines, you’re not necessarily going to pitch them with a white wine. But if they’re ordering a lot of seafood, that goes out the door! Now, as a server, you might look at it from a different perspective like ‘Oh, this person typically orders Burgundys so maybe white wine from that region might be appropriate.’”

Taking action on intel

To make this intel even more actionable, Boka leverages the pre-shift report to access personalised guest insights before every shift, so the service staff can offer the best hospitality possible.

From an operational perspective, Flam said the pre-shift report plays a crucial part in server success: “We are arming our servers with information so that they at least have a sense. Just because a guest has previously ordered the Cabernet doesn’t mean we are pitching that wine every time—that’s kind of the old-school way to serve your guests. Now we can consider our manager’s observations and combine them with the real time feedback our guests give us.”

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