Restaurant Tech Upstart Toast Puts Hotels on the Menu

Restaurant Tech Upstart Toast Puts Hotels on the Menu

Skift Take

Hotels are looking to upgrade the tech that guests use to order and pay for food. Toast’s move into the market takes advantage of a surge in hotel spending on cloud-based systems, a key ingredient for upselling travelers.

Toast, which offers restaurant-focused technology, said on Tuesday it had begun targeting hotel restaurants.

The move comes as many hotels play a catch-up game in tech. Hoteliers are finally adopting mobile and cloud-based systems that have been revolutionizing other sectors such as sports and concert ticketing.

Many hotels face pandemic-accelerated changes in guest habits and preferences, including more comfort off of digital menus. Hoteliers are looking to upgrade their tech to get better at upselling and cross-selling guests with food and beverage, along with other products and services, regardless of where guests are at a property.

Toast’s entry into the hotel restaurant market is significant because the company, which went public last year, could be a fast-growing disruptor. It forecasts its first-quarter revenue will be at least $469 million, serving more than 7 percent of U.S. restaurants.

Toast began with point-of-sale hardware but has expanded to offer solutions for offering digital marketing of QR-code-based menus, tools to pay and manage staff, and automation of many processes.

Toast joins other large cloud-based providers, such as Amadeus, Oracle’s newer cloud-based Micros Simphony product, Shift4’s HarborTouch, and Square, in having the capital firepower to spread the latest hardware and software to hotel restaurants.

Syncing with Hotel Operating Systems

What’s new is that Toast has begun to use tools to integrate with some of the most-widely used operational software at hotels, called property management systems. Toast now syncs with Oracle’s Opera and Micros’ Fidelio systems, Mews, Clock, and MCR Hotels-backed StayNTouch. Toast also integates with software used by hostel and vacation rental property managers, such as Guesty and Barefoot.

Before this launch, the majority of hotel restaurants could not use Toast without an integration with a property management system because of the painful workarounds required to manually reconcile room charges. With the new syncing, hotels now can do this on a promise of avoiding messy on-premise installations.

Toast’s integration with hotel systems means that staff can process room charges right from the hardware, searching for a guest name or room number on the point-of-sale device. It also means that limited-service hotels that offer prepared food items in guestroom minibars or lobby kiosks can sell items via QR codes. For hotels with on-site restaurants, software helps kitchens keep track of front-of-the-house operations.

“Toast did a wonderful job of getting their first product, a point-of-sale system, into many, many, many restaurants fast,” said Gaurav Tuli, a partner at Fidelity’s venture fund F-Prime. “Then they said, ‘Hey, there’s more we can do to help your restaurant operation run more efficiently, like our inventory management software or our scheduling software or our payroll software.’ The sequence of development is just so admirable.”

“When hotel restaurants leverage our platform, they’ll see faster table turns, higher check sizes, and higher guest satisfaction,” said Aman Narang, Toast co-founder, president, and chief operating officer. “Operational efficiency will also reduce labor costs for hotels.”

Perhaps. But Toast will face stiff competition from many other players adopting cloud-based technology. Other popular vendors of hotel restaurant tech include NCR Aloha, Heartland, TouchBistro, and Infor.

The ultimate winners may be hotel guests as better technology spreads across all aspects of hotel operations.

“If you look at what Toast has done on the restaurant side, they’re trying to build a restaurant operating system,” said Kayak CEO Steve Hafner in a recent Skift interview, adding that platform tech companies will be the big winners as hotels, too, look to upgrade their technology.

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