At this time, the hospitality industry – and all bars and restaurants for that matter – are going through the “Great Resignation,” but what exactly does that mean? If the last few years have taught us anything, it's this: people aren't as comfortable dining out as before the upheavals of 2020, including workers. Nationwide, there's a genuine concern for public health and safety as we're still not sure when the pandemic will be behind us completely, so you have to account for that fact to stay innovative.
The situation for the hospitality industry has improved substantially in recent times, but many challenges persist, like how to make sure you don’t lose out on the opportunity to offer workers something different. No matter how you look at the statistics, it’s clear that staffing shortages in the hospitality industry demand a solution and demand it fast as well. There's little time to waste because restaurants, hotels, and bars stand at a critical crossroads in 2022.
Essentially, you have two choices: keep operating the same way you did pre-pandemic restrictions, or think outside of the box and leverage automated technology as much as possible. Unfortunately, the first option simply isn't tenable as a business model because workers' attitudes have changed significantly. Hence, an easy win is to use an automatic wine dispenser to provide a different work environment than most people expect.
Honestly, this question has been circulating for many years. But today, we have an answer; however, it has little to do with the pandemic’s effect on the hospitality industry at large. Before 2020, automation was already a hot topic in the tech world since artificial intelligence platforms were on the cusp of breaking through to the larger consumer market; integrating those platforms with “smart” devices is another problem entirely. So, device automation is a stopgap of sorts to give developers time to improve current technology with new, AI-driven integrations. That said, what’s the takeaway for hotels, restaurants, and bars when it comes to automation?
Some of the most important benefits of self-serve wine by the glass aren't apparent at a glance, so let's outline the most important ones to give you a better idea of why many businesses are starting to use this type of automation more often to improve the workplace.
Have you ever considered how many times you come into contact with surfaces in a restaurant? Every time you step inside, you interact with the staff from the initial greeting to the final goodbye, especially those who will be touching your food and drinks. In a bar, there’s less contact aside from serving drinks and cleaning glassware, but the short distance between guests and bartenders is an issue that’s not getting discussed. Many veteran bartenders simply aren’t comfortable with it anymore, so they’re leaving to work at similar establishments that genuinely care about workers’ health and safety.
Besides, the situation is just as uncertain for servers. On the dining floor, servers repeatedly use the same POS screens, and likewise, bartenders touch every glass that goes around. When the front of the house gets full, your staff might accidentally touch the inside of dirty glasses as they take them away once guests are finished. It's not that they aren't trying to be safe; it's simply the fact of working at a thriving, vibrant establishment that's packed wall to wall every weekend.
Thus, everyone benefits from self-service wine dispensers because they reduce or completely eliminate all of those contact points and reduce the likelihood of your entire staff getting sick if you have an outbreak. Without a doubt, the best way to minimize the risk is to have fewer points of contact between staff and guests.
Today, floor space is at a premium, with social distancing still top of mind. Whereas some restaurants haven't had trouble adjusting their seating capacity, many popular restaurants have been forced to find workarounds. More often than not, tables are spread further apart than usual, which ironically makes it harder to serve the dining floor. Your servers and bartenders won't be able to "turn and burn" and multi-task because they won't be able to consolidate service with each trip to the dining floor. You might have even gone as far as changing your service model, making it even harder for staff.
But automated wine dispensers are a great way to maximize the space you have available without going back to the standard setup. These coolers contain everything you need to serve a dining floor, including replacement bottles once a popular varietal runs dry. Everything you need is in one place, which opens up opportunities to maximize space in other parts of the restaurant that are now free to use.
Having a thorough wine list is a noteworthy selling point, but where do all of the bottles get stored? More often than not, staff find inventive workarounds and place bottles in awkward places like cabinets or crudely stacked against a wall. You can also store wine out in the open as decor in a pinch, but that only takes up more valuable floor space. Yet, if you use automated technology and install a self-pour wine dispenser, you eliminate all of those problems in one appliance.
Sanitation is the last key benefit you need to know about automated wine pouring. No matter how you look at it, better sanitation is always a win-win for staff and guests. It’s a simple way to show people that you have their best interests in mind by streamlining the experience. Some self-serve wine dispensers automatically alert you when it's time to clean and maintain the device. Although the general rule of thumb is to clean the dispenser once a month, doing it more often isn’t such a terrible idea either.
During cleanings, your staff only needs to wipe the pour switches, buttons, and any surfaces that a guest might accidentally touch before going back to their seats. Inside of the wine dispenser itself, you’ll also need to sanitize flow lines to keep them clear. Not only is it proper sanitation, but it will also make the wine taste fresher and last longer too.
The vast majority of restaurants use the traditional, table-side ordering model, but now you have more options to supplement the task. Instead of having your servers and bartenders take drink orders and bring them to the table ASAP, you can give them more freedom to truly tailor customer service to each guest. In the past, most guests didn’t want to leave the table except to visit the bathroom, but nowadays, more people feel perfectly comfortable with serving their own glasses of wine because they appreciate the convenience and added safety.
Prior to 2020, some restaurant brands were already experimenting with table-top devices to make service faster. Once guests take a seat, they can immediately order drinks and appetizers before their server for the evening arrives at the table. It makes it much easier for the staff to keep up with a busy dining floor, and it improves the guest's experience as well. So, the next question is this: where do automated wine dispensers fit into the equation?
Depending on your service model, you could have guests pay for the wine by the glass individually at the dispenser. It’s a great way to keep serving wine if guests want to camp out for a while after finishing their meal. After all, dining out is all about an experience, especially these days when there’s so much opportunity to get creative. Many people, including staff, may actually enjoy using the dispenser over the traditional method where the server or bartender pours wine at the table.
Ultimately, you don't have to go as far as to eliminate table-side ordering altogether. Many hospitality-based businesses have already tried that with varying results. Still, you can use the wine dispenser as a competitive advantage because your business will be more high-tech than people assume. Everyone benefits when you can give staff more time and freedom to deliver outstanding service every time they visit the table.
Along those lines, a self-service wine dispenser gives you a way to provide a consistent experience, and that includes your staff. Right now, online ordering is the craze, and while it's great when you can't leave the house, there's also the human element that's missing. Even when you offer curbside service, you're not giving guests the complete experience, yet you don't have to use take-out as your primary revenue source with the pandemic subsiding.
Digital ordering isn't necessarily a fad because these applications have significant backing and investment. They'll never go away entirely because so many people have grown accustomed to the convenience, but digital ordering is full of problems that never get discussed. And frankly, that's how the app developers want to keep it.
For starters, these apps take a cut of a restaurant’s profits and upcharge consumers. That’s why many restaurant brands are choosing to do their own digital ordering instead of relying on platforms like GrubHub and UberEats, which aren’t worth the trouble at the end of the day. Making matters worse, these companies don’t allow their independent contractors to deliver alcohol, depending on local laws, so there’s an opening you can take advantage of by promoting your establishment as an alternative.
So, if you want to start preparing for the next era, using technology is essential from a staff standpoint for competitive differentiation as well. The only challenge is selecting a suitable dispenser with valuable features and perks that will make your business feel new, fresh, and up to date.
At WineEmotion, we strive to evolve the commercial wine dispensing systems with advanced tech for your wine-by-the-glass menu selections. Among other appliances, we offer modern, state-of-the-art automation for wine coolers, wine dispensers, and wine climate control systems, too, which gives you a whole new way to serve wine by the glass while making your staff feel safe and secure.
Our coolers keep each bottle fresh, even after opening, because the equipment seals each bottle with a small amount of gas after each pour. The gas preserves the aromas and flavors longer by displacing oxygen, which is what causes wine to spoil. In other words, the less you expose wines to air, the longer you'll be able to keep them in stock, so an automated solution is ideal.
Usually, an open bottle will only last about four days max before the wine goes bad, but with a WineEmotion appliance, the wine lasts much longer and will still taste as good as the day you first poured it. As you can see, it’s a win-win for both customers and the staff you count on to grow the business with each touchpoint.
The good news is that you don’t have to let staffing shortages hold back your business when you use new technology. Are you still curious about what else our appliances can do? Click to check out our latest models and learn more about the different specifications of each model.