As a greater range of hospitality services break ground in the tech world, several apps that help consumers to pair wine with their meal are the latest additions to the lineup. These new ‘bots’ sort through participating restaurants’ wine lists and make suggestions based on reviews, guests’ price range and food choices.
“By 2020, a whopping 85 percent of enterprise-customer relationships will be managed without human interactions,” according to Connecticut-based Gartner, a research company. “Surveys show that 89 percent of consumers opt to engage with businesses through text and 64 percent of consumers that communicate with businesses via text leave with a positive impression.”
Wine-pairing apps improve the customer experience, according to Penny Gillespie, Gartner’s vice president of research. By using them “customers are no longer at the mercy of wait staff and servers but are becoming empowered with ‘self-help’.”
“It is only a matter of time before chat bots in restaurants make their way to the forefront. Designed to communicate in a meaningful manner with customers, chat bots can be integrated with any interface,” according to recent Gartner research.
While services like Vivino have long provided ratings, few actually claim to offer specific restaurant list pairings.Vinohunt, another pairing service, did not respond for comment for this story.
Services like the London-based WinePicker, which currently claims 14.000 users and 500 London and 150 US restaurants as customers, have stepped into the fray to help restaurants with fewer staff sell more wine, according to Julien Sahut, Wine Picker’s co-founder and head sommelier of the Sexy Fish restaurant in London.
The app currently features 600,000 wines by price point and food pairing synergies. Users can also submit the lists of their favorite restaurants. It is fairly user friendly, highlighting participating restaurants on local maps orange, and then prompting the user to put in pricing and food selections. It then offers five wine pairings.
A plus for restaurants
Margins on wine in most restaurants are much higher than those on food and drinks sales can account for one third of total revenue. These apps aim to put customers at ease by narrowing large lists to a manageable five, food-friendly choices, often shown with ratings.
“It is a win-win deal. Restaurants are able to deliver better service and consumers have better experiences,” said Gillespie.
The app is not currently sponsored by suppliers, but clearly this type of technology could be used by marketing companies to help key restaurants market their wines.
Gillespie is not sure if these apps are actually making money yet for restaurants, “but it is certainly possible in the future as it could enable fewer wait staff to serve a larger number of tables,” as consumers would not have to wait or struggle to get the attention of a server.
Liza B. Zimmerman