My starting point in product development and innovation is simple: this isn’t really about technology, and it’s certainly not about technology for technology’s sake. That’s not the Tevalis way. If you want to be a successful software development company in the hospitality space, you need to have a deep commercial understanding of:
In short, technology with a purpose.
This means appreciating the bigger picture while paying very careful attention to the detail (and there can be lots of detail). It means pushing forward the state-of-the-art in hospitality technology by, and this is crucial, working in partnership with clients to deliver focused solutions with measurable impact.
In my view, there’s no other way to work, when you consider the ever-changing dynamics of the industry. It’s all about different operating models, changing markets, new channels, and shifting customer and guest expectations. It increasingly means looking at things from a customer’s point of view: the guest journey, and being able to shape the experience from ordering onwards based on how you as a brand and a business culture want to engage and interact with your customers.
The only way to do this properly is to understand an organisation and its processes to align their brand and what it wants to achieve with how it fulfils its service offer. Then, we can build the right solution around that. And it has to be scalable, flexible, resilient and adaptable as needs shift and change, as new technologies, consumer expectations and market dynamics emerge.
In some ways, hospitality has often led the way in technology. I remember the very first kit self-service kiosks going into outlets of a leading pub restaurant brand more than 10 years ago. I think this provided proof that consumers in hospitality venues were willing to engage with technology so long as it enhanced the service experience, and that’s the key. Some companies are doing this better than others. Customer ordering at tables is another example; the underlying technology is pretty much the same, and guests today simply expect speed, efficiency, and precision at their table.
In my 25-year career in this field, I’ve had one foot in the commercial world and one in the technology world. I see both sides and how they need to work together. EPOS is just the beginning. If all you think EPOS is for is “processing sales data” then that is now commoditised. But we see EPOS differently: as a gateway to new business opportunities and new value. It’s about how you can connect, integrate and bring additional benefits across the hospitality technology ecosystem.
This is what Tevalis does. In the last two years, as hospitality was forced to pivot and adapt at speed to changing circumstances—including the boom in online ordering and click & collect, and the move to handheld ordering and at-table service—our order book increased massively. We could help people to change and adapt, and to do it quickly.
As I said previously, it’s important to deploy your technology in ways that underpin the brand, augment, and enhance the service model, and not become the service model in itself. Mollie’s is a great example. With a unique American-style motel-diner concept, it has sites in Bristol and Oxfordshire, and ambitious expansion plans including a brand-new location in Manchester. It’s an amazing set-up and service experience: technology-driven but entirely guest-focused. You’d be hard-pressed to see an obvious bit of kit anywhere unless it’s part of delivering great service. Tevalis multi-channel EPOS with numerous partner integrations plus kitchen screens for our kitchen management system are there but woven into the fabric of the brand and its operations. It’s all about the service experience, the guest journey; the order management and order fulfilment.
I’m passionate about technology in hospitality, in what it can deliver: helping owners and operators to offer more and giving customers the seamless service experience and the enjoyable guest journey they expect, from the second they walk through the door. Tevalis, its ecosystem and partners play a central role in delivering that. The hospitality brand and the technology used to deliver that brand can become one and the same, regardless of location or channel used: whether the customer entry point is a mobile order through a smartphone app or the crucial few steps before they are greeted by the restaurant or hotel staff.
The world has changed. Order management—supporting, personalising and optimising the customer journey at every step—has become the order of the day. EPOS is the gateway to all of that, and it’s the order flow, the order orchestration and fulfilment that unlocks the true value of EPOS. I’ll return to this theme in a future blog.