Digital is key to staying relevant in the Hospitality Business.

1. Digital hospitality counter / E-counter hospitality industry

Permits and approvals: it's pretty much the first thing every start-up catering entrepreneur has to deal with. Not only is the number of permits already quite high, the entrepreneur also has to comply with all the rules at different levels: federal, regional, local, ...

Because both the hotel and catering industry and the government services clearly benefit from a simplification of procedures, a number of city councils have appointed hotel and catering-specific online portals, e-deskettes and hotel and catering coaches. And the Flemish ict-organisation for local authorities V-ICT-OR has also made work of a digital hospitality counter, through which the (starting) hospitality operator can arrange all licence applications and other administrative obligations.

Through all these systems, start-up entrepreneurs are guided through the schemes specifically applicable to them, which they can apply for or handle directly. This concerns the correct choice and handling of insurance, price indications, music in the business, smoking in the catering industry, alcohol, VAT receipts, hygiene, Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC), environment, company waste, signboard, terrace, and so on. Authentic sources such as the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) and the national register are used as much as possible. Links are also provided to the digital back-office systems of federal, Flemish and local administrations.

The streamlining and automation of this process not only ensures that the hospitality operators are immediately guided through all the necessary procedures, it simultaneously provides a great relief of the administrative burden on the (local) boards.

2. The white checkout as a driver for efficiency

In Belgium, the white till has caused a shock effect. The introduction of this GKS meant that all catering managers were ready for a thorough professionalisation of their cash register system and their overall management. So no more gut feeling, time to keep accurate records, calculate and plan everything. This is the only way for catering entrepreneurs to ensure that they operate with healthy margins, use their staff efficiently and keep a well-run business in the long term.

Together with government measures on human resources in the hospitality industry, this ensured that digital tools quickly found their way into the sector. In their slipstream followed management tools, ordering solutions, marketing platforms, food safety applications and accounting packages.

3. Digital tools & apps

Digitalisation is making it increasingly easy to support hospitality entrepreneurs in their business operations. Entrepreneurs are also more active online. The white box office has certainly helped this in the Belgian hospitality industry. New entrepreneurs are also open-mindedly looking at digital tools and incorporating them un their management and governance. The insights they gain from them are a crucial management component.

A hospitality-specific digital tool, AAPI for example is a feat of digital innovation and can rightly be considered the flight forward. Not only does it provide complete transparency for personnel management, it also helps the hospitality entrepreneur to schedule his personnel efficiently, to continuously monitor personnel costs - among other things by linking it to an automatic check-in and check-out function - and to communicate more smoothly with employees. In addition, all contract management is done digitally and there is an automatic link with Dimona.

Often, more efficient and transparent staff management goes hand in hand with better cost management in all areas. After all, staff costs are part of the total cost per dish and therefore have a direct impact on the price you have to charge. To calculate the price needed to achieve the target margin, you also need to have a perfect view of the cost of each ingredient and the dose you need of that ingredient in the dish. The Growzer tool, for example, can help you map out all your F&B catering management. Central ordering, automatic 24-hour stock management, smart menu engineering and maximum cost control are among Growzer's capabilities.

If you list your HR administration, People Management, F&B costs as well as your overheads, you suddenly have a pretty complete picture of your expenses. If you collect all this Business Data in AAPI, then you can calculate which dishes are the cheapest and which the most expensive, which ones you can charge the biggest margin on and what impact the price increase of a particular ingredient has on the profitability of a dish. Only then can you make truly informed decisions: do you raise your price, use a little less of that expensive ingredient or just dump the dish from your offer?

In this way, a hospitality operator achieves a level of professional management never seen before. Every change is registered, which is good for transparency towards the authorities but also for insight into business operations. Because a good overview of costs and the factors that influence these costs almost automatically leads to better management, and to better decisions.

No more Monkey Business!

Or how the white box office might eventually contribute to a more profitable business after all.

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