It’s fair to say that a lot of people who might not have known what a QR code was prior to 2020, have become well-informed on what one is this decade.
These matrix barcodes have gone from being regarded as a marketing gimmick, to seeing widespread use in public settings. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly had a lot to do with that transition in the space of just a few years, as QR codes (the QR standing for ‘quick response’) began to appear on tables in restaurants, bars, and other hospitality venues.
If you have spent any significant time in such venues during the 2020s, you are likely to know well how to use QR codes in this context. By using your smartphone to detect a QR code on a restaurant table, you can be directed to a website or app that enables you to place an order, without any need for you to approach an on-site worker.
The statistics tell their own story about how entrenched QR codes have become in our daily lives over the last few years. While one survey conducted in September 2020 found that only just over a third (35.53%) of respondents had ever used a QR code to pay for something, this percentage had vaulted to 83% by the time a repeat poll was carried out in April 2021.
QR codes are continuing to show their worth and relevance
Now, at this point, you might be thinking… we’ve come a long way from the height of the coronavirus crisis. Restrictions have been lifted across the world – so are QR codes so necessary anymore? Can’t hospitality businesses like restaurants, hotels, and bars now just go back to the “old”, face-to-face way of doing things?
To a certain extent… yes, they can. But many hospitality venues are realising that QR codes have a value and relevance that won’t go away in the months and years to come.
Here, then, are just a few ways in which QR codes are still transforming the global hospitality sector:
- They’re speeding up the process of taking orders – and freeing up team members’ time in the process. Both customers and hospitality businesses themselves have an interest in making key processes quicker and more intuitive for everyone. Today, sophisticated ‘order at table’ solutions are being more widely used. Customers are able to input an order by simply using their smartphone to scan a QR code at their table, and submitting their order information via the website or app that opens up. This helps to reduce waiting times for customers, and turn tables faster for the hospitality business itself.
- They’re encouraging customers to spend more money per visit. It has been claimed that customers typically spend about 15% more per order when they order via a digital interface, rather than via a waiter or cashier. One could theorise as to why that is the case – perhaps customers feel less guilty ordering extra sides when they don’t have a restaurant employee watching over them – but it is one more reason for ambitious hospitality venues to consider the sustained use of QR codes.
- They’re enabling hospitality businesses to reduce their costs. It has been well-documented that many hospitality businesses are currently struggling to find suitable people to fill their job vacancies. This has had serious consequences for such businesses’ finances and growth prospects, amounting to £21 billion in lost revenue for the UK hospitality sector. But the aforementioned use of QR codes for taking orders has allowed many restaurants and bars to lessen their reliance on on-site employees. And QR codes can even help reduce such a business’s printing costs, when it keeps its menus online – accessible via QR code – and updates the online versions periodically, instead of having to constantly print new paper menus to reflect the latest changes.
- They’re helping to bridge the online and offline elements of hospitality. The world has come a long way from the days when the typical business might have had a ‘high-street’ presence and a website, but didn’t do a huge amount to connect those two entities. Today is the “omnichannel” era, which places an ever-greater emphasis on achieving seamless connections between online and offline aspects of what a business does. And QR codes have helped all manner of restaurants, hotels, and takeaways to make that a reality – for example, by putting QR codes on their physical posters, flyers, and leaflets, with potential customers able to simply scan the QR code to find out more about the given business.
The widespread use of QR codes by hospitality businesses might seem like an early 2020s revolution, but given that they began to show their potential many years before this, they are far from a mere marketing ‘fad’. In an increasingly digitally oriented hospitality space, QR codes are continuing to transform businesses in this sector, helping to make related solutions a wise investment in 2023.