With a long-standing career in hospitality, Craig Goslin, UK Managing Director, Vapiano is no stranger to change. In 2020 Craig spearheaded a project to introduce digital menus to the German pizza-pasta restaurant chain in response to the pandemic and hasn’t looked back since.

What is a digital menu?
A virtual menu and mobile based app ordering solution to streamline our guest journey whilst making it Covid-19 safe for guests.

How long does it take to implement?
With the support of FlipDish we managed to get the app up and running within 48 hours.

What do you have to consider when implementing digital menus
We had to consider how this would impact the overall business in the long run, it was initially a response to the pandemic but we wanted to invest in something that would improve the guest experience and support our teams who are working to tight turn arounds. One consideration is how this can improve employee wellbeing? It provides obvious benefits for our guest journey but we have seen that it supports our employees too. This assistance relieves responsibility on the team, so the kitchen can focus on cooking fresh, good quality food, whilst increasing emphasis on the operations front-of-house. Being more attentive in this area is driving the friendly and personable guest experience Vapiano is known for.

Do you still need paper menus?
We have kept physical menus for our guests in addition to the digital menu. We want to ensure we are as accessible as possible for our guests, so if it’s preferred or required to use a physical menu we can facilitate that for them.

What are the business benefits of digital menus?
For us and our guests at Vapiano, a massive positive is that there are no longer queues to place an order. Once guests are seated, they’re more relaxed and can take their time to create and personalise their dishes to their own preference. We’ve seen a significant growth in the contribution of Antipasti starters, upsell on extra’s, garlic breads, and drinks contribution. Collectively this has driven the size of our overall average guest cheque and has increased awareness of our great cocktail offerings and Dolci dessert range.

How have your customers reacted to the change?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Guests have responded well, and the feedback and adoption of the digital ordering platform has certainly met and even exceeded our expectations.

How long does it take to achieve an ROI?
Since we implemented digital ordering into the business in 2020, the platforms have evolved and greatly improved in terms of stability, functionality and a vastly improved user experience, but the tools that we initially launched with were on a cost per order commission-based model, so in effect paid for itself from day one.