Leisure operator Center Parcs has used lockdown to develop a digital food and beverage offering. FEJ finds out more…
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Center Parcs hadn’t yet made the move towards a digital food and beverage offering.
The short break provider had been exploring options within the market but hadn’t found a provider that it felt was the right fit for it, and its guests’, needs.
Fast forward to August 2020, six months on from the start of the pandemic restrictions and the company has revolutionised its service offering with technology from ordering platform QikServe.
Covid-19 wasn’t the only motivation for digital ordering – it was already looking at ways to enhance the guest experience in line with modern consumer expectations.
So, when the UK entered its first lockdown in 2020, the company moved quickly to develop a digital ordering solution that would supply guests with food and drink on-site in a safe and efficient way.
It wanted a way to offer guests an excellent dining experience in lieu of being able to ‘eat in’ at venues, and support in overhauling its existing takeaway service, allowing for greater demand and expectation.
The solution it chose had not only to suit the circumstances that the world found itself in at that moment, but be future proof and able to adapt as restrictions were tightened or loosened.
Flexibility would be key, but the speed of implementation was a focus and the solution needed to be embedded into the Center Parcs website, something it saw as an important part of the overall guest experience.
Vitally, it needed to provide excellence beyond the pandemic, meeting evolving consumer demand now and in the future.
Since the start of the pandemic, Center Parcs has overseen three key digital projects. The first of these is the digital ordering solution, powered by QikServe.
Using this, guests can now enjoy contactless ordering and payment on-site at brands including Las Iguanas, Huck’s American Bar & Grill, Café Rouge, The Pancake House, Bella Italia, Foresters’ Inn and Rajinda Pradesh.
Alternatively, guests can order ahead for collection, or lodge delivery, by selecting their meals and paying online before choosing a delivery time from carefully scheduled time slots.
The company said: “The implementation of this solution has revolutionised our food and beverage offering for guests. Not only was this an integral project to allow us to re-open, it’s also enabled us to use this as an opportunity to increase our offer for many more of our brands, not just via the dine-in offer that we have historically had.”
As an extension of its use of QikServe’s platform, Center Parcs has gone totally cashless, all its systems and processes now operate without the need for physical money, enabling the teams to alleviate the cash handling issues Covid brought about.
Understanding the difficulty of social distancing within a holiday setting, Center Parcs introduced an IT led solution, using sensors to monitor footfall and generate capacity alerts.
Rounding out its digital transformation, Center Parcs introduced a new Live Chat and Digital Assistant to its website, ensuring guest service was optimised across every channel.
The popularity of the QikServe platform has exceeded Center Parcs’ expectations; guests have reacted positively to the opportunity to access a more varied menu via a digital interface and the average check size has grown accordingly.
And it is not just guests that approve of the service, staff have benefited from the efficiencies it provides and have been quick to praise its ease of use.
The company said: “There are many operational features available within the dashboard and, as we are becoming more acquainted with the solution, we are beginning to see the role these will play in enabling us to achieve our future goals.”
Given the necessity of a contactless ordering solution during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult to assess the true revenue return via the platform.
Nonetheless, Center Parcs says that in-platform spend has been beyond its predictions. From the first week of launch in mid-July, to the final week of August, the company saw a week-on-week increase in spend and, across the 21 weeks that Center Parcs was open and using the QikServe technology in 2020, it welcomed more than 303,000 guest orders.
Once the pandemic has passed, Center Parcs intends the digital ordering platform to continue taking an active role in its food and beverage offering and says that IT solutions are now an expectation rather than a nice to have.
This, it believes, helps support the overall user experience and drives loyalty. It has also begun to explore the direct integration of the solution to its ePOS system with the intent that it will then provide a single, integrated service to guests across all channels, from eat-in to order for collection or delivery.