Restaurants, in general, are turning towards using a QR code restaurant menu to facilitate their food and beverage ordering system. More so in recent times when restaurants have been urged to utilize technology to facilitate ordering at tables.
In short, as a restaurant owner, you need to follow suit and become familiar with using QR codes within your venue.
But where do you start? Do you need a simple free QR code? Or are there more ordering to take into account? And how does this fit in with your other systems such as accounting and sales forecasts?
Well, it’s not hard to accomplish this and get the right system in place, with a few simple changes to the way you operate to gain just a basic system – or opting for a professional setup comes with many added advantages.
Here’s the quick summary, and then we’ll get into some further detail…
Free online QR Code generators are great for simple or few links. If you’re offering a wider range of guest choices, need branding, fast changes, and integration into a central system, then a professional QR code platform is more beneficial and the best place to start to avoid changing later.
That’s the short takeaway answer, but as with many aspects of owning and running a restaurant, there’s much more to it than just that. so let’s dive into the details.
We’ll start with a recap on what a QR code is, and how it works. Then we’ll go on to make comparisons between using free and professional QR code restaurant menu use.
Quite simply put, a QR code is a two-dimensional code that can be read by a QR scanner or smartphone. This code can store information such as contact information, website URLs, or plain text.
The vast majority of phones now have these built-in, but free readers are available from the phone’s appropriate App store.
We’ve all experienced the idea of QR codes for many years now, in the form of bar codes on products you purchase in stores. The process is essentially the same but does not require any specialist hand scanner equipment to operate, or the need to go through checkout lines.
The concept of using a QR code in a restaurant setting simply turns the QR code into a set of instructions related to ordering from the menu.
The concept of using a QR code in a restaurant setting simply turns the QR code into a set of instructions related to ordering from the menu.
Here’s an example we’ve generated free
QR code menus are becoming increasingly popular in restaurants as a way of reducing paper waste, providing an interactive ordering experience for customers, and simplifying the order process for staff.
Indeed, enabling you to speed up ordering and service, with less staff. Allowing you to focus on customer service above process. It also allows you to incorporate branding and a wider range of service offerings.
Later we’ll get into how using Orderlina can actually lead to managing your entire hotel or venue services.
So how do QR codes work? Let’s touch on that first, then we’ll get into some of the differences between systems, in particular free vs paid systems.
A QR code is essentially a matrix of black and white squares that are arranged in a specific pattern. This pattern is then read by a QR scanner which converts the patterns into characters.
To use a QR code, you need, in most cases, just a smartphone with a QR scanner app installed. Open the scanner app, point your phone’s camera at the code, and it will automatically scan and interpret the data.
There are a number of ways to generate a QR code. You can use any free online QR code generator for this as a simple operation.
And this is where you might think the system is created and any problems solved.
However, you may just be opening yourself up to numerous other issues further down the line.
The challenge isn’t so much in creating the QR code, it’s more about how to implement that QR code into a seamless ordering system, manage the output from it … and how easy it is to make changes.
The more you use free QR codes, the more complex and unwieldy it can become …as we’ll get into shortly.
If the target source for the QR code changes, then so might the QR code generated. This could be costly if you’d just had it printed on your staff t-Shirts!
So for restaurants, this is where Orderlina comes into its own. Providing seamless integration into the ordering process, as well as receipts, and accounts. And far greater interaction from guests.
QR Codes can be viewed as the missing link between the more traditional way of handing over a menu, and taking an order … and the new digital marketing approach.
They’re not only faster than traditional methods, but they also facilitate the process for the customer, making choosing, ordering, and receiving much faster and more flexible.
Here’s how the QR code process is used in a restaurant in its simplest form…
Each menu, page, or even individual product will be allocated its own unique QR code. This code defines the target location to take the guest to – much like a URL link.
Whereas previously, you probably handed the customer a paper menu. Now there is a QR code provided that leads to the “ordering page”.
This page then has a variety of menu options, it’s still a familiar menu, but in the digital format.
Once selected, the menu items can then be ordered as you would when ordering anything else online. Except it’s specific to that venue.
You can even take your QR codes beyond the restaurant table. Using them to pin marketing material on windows or add to public areas.
They can be used online, such as on your social media – or via emails. And can even be used in leaflet campaigns.
Quite simply, wherever your QR codes are used, they will all link back to your restaurant.
There are many QR code options on the market that you can use to generate your own QR codes.
But which one should you choose? The answer is, that it depends on what you need the QR code for.
If you just need a basic QR code for a simple restaurant menu, then any of the free apps will suffice. But there are a number of downsides to this option that they don’t tell you about.
We’ll get into the free version shortly, but the pro version includes far more features and is designed to increase revenue.
Free is great …and will take you so far. But for most venues, the best QR code app is one that includes features – such as:
Any serious venue that offers numerous services does not want a variety of digital products to manage a variety of functions.
So going beyond the simple QR code system, you ideally need something that integrates throughout the venue and seamlessly links to your internal systems.
To achieve this, you’ll need to have a QR code that links to a centralized restaurant app …that can seamlessly work throughout the venue and bring all of the venue’s links, sources, payments, and tracking together in one place.
This is an all-in-one solution that should include the following features:
With an integrated professional QR code restaurant system, you can manage and monitor your restaurant – in fact, your entire venue from a centralized platform, making it easy to make changes and improve your service.
This also gives you the ability to track guest preferences not only in the restaurant but from anywhere.
So you can offer them tailored loyalty rewards, and services from anywhere on-site, even at the bar. Thus further increasing customer satisfaction and offering more ways to increase food and beverage sales.
A QR code that links to a browser-based system is an essential part of any modern QR code restaurant setup.
As it allows customers to quickly and easily scan QR codes to access menus and other services, make orders, and even pay for their meal or service – to eat in or take away.
All of which feed into one centralized system within the restaurant. For restaurants within larger hotels, this can even manage the entire chain.
…you ideally need something that integrates throughout the venue and seamlessly links to your internal systems.
There are a number of benefits that come with using a QR code system throughout the venue, including:
An integrated QR code service within your venue can optimize both service and revenue. Whether it’s a restaurant, a single hotel, or a hotel chain.
The ability to track usage allows you to see which items are being scanned the most and make changes accordingly.
Not only discover your most popular product or service but have that information fed into a single usable system.
It also helps with marketing, as you can see how effective your QR code campaign is.
You can use this same feature to send out different codes to different groups of people and see the takeup from each group.
If you’re not sure how to track usage, our team can help you set it up. Or you can simply request a demonstration call.
Once you’ve got tracking in place, you can start experimenting with different ways to use QR codes in your restaurant, hotel, or venue.
There are further benefits to using a professional integrated QR code restaurant app which we’ll get into next.
As we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of free QR code readers and generators available.
However, there are several downsides that come with using random free QR codes.
When manually managing your own set of QR codes, here are the types of difficulties you can face:
More code management is required – With more people using your QR codes, you’ll need to keep track of who is scanning what QR code and when.
This can quickly become unmanageable if you’re relying on a free QR code generator.
Losing track of data – It’s hard to keep track of all the data points you’re collecting when using a free software version. It simply doesn’t have the capacity you might need – if any capacity at all.
Broken QR code links – If you’re using a free QR code, and someone tries to scan a QR code that’s no longer in use, they’ll get an error message.
This can be frustrating for your customers and reflect poorly on your business.
Non-integration into your venue – It’s a standalone code, it’s just a link. So it doesn’t integrate with your point-of-sale (POS) system or any other software you might be using.
If possible, you’ll have to try to export data from one system and import it into another, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
The upgrade path is difficult – If later you need more features, such as the ability to take reservations or back-end integration, you’ll have to find and install new software.
This can be difficult, especially if you’re not technically savvy. Not only transferring to a new and better system, but dealing with all the legacy QR codes you have out in the wild that are still being used.
Old and redundant QR codes can equate to lost revenue.
Costly – It can also be costly if having gone through the setup once with lots of free random codes, you then need to begin the process all over again with the new software.
Lack of support – Once you’ve installed the software, you’re on your own.
There’s rarely customer support to help you if you run into problems or need assistance.
You’ll have to rely on online forums, which can be helpful …but may not always have the answers you’re looking for.
Imagine the time you might waste trying to figure out how to improve a system that has gradually become out of control.
Lack of accountability – With any free QR-code system comes risk. Free products come and go, and can disappear without any liability to their users.
You need to be sure that you’re prepared to potentially lose revenue if your system of using QR codes suddenly stops.
In essence, relying on free QR code systems to facilitate the primary revenue sources of your business is not very stable, accountable, or future-proof.
Add to this, that a seemingly random QR code that links to a single URL is now considered a little outdated, and bland in its approach.
You may just regret going down the free route!
Now, let’s talk about how a professional-grade QR code system can streamline your restaurant menu.
A professional, integrated QR code menu for your restaurant or venue, can integrate with your existing website or POS system.
Your customers can quickly and easily view your menu by scanning a QR code with their smartphone or tablet.
The menus are updated in real-time, so you can make changes on the fly, without having to print new menus every time something changes.
Plus, you can track analytics and make adjustments that affect your bottom line. Not just through Orderlina, and your restaurant or take-out venue, but throughout the hotel or chain of venues, with the Hotefy system.
Hotefy customers have reported a 30% increase in sales specifically because they have widened the scope of what can be offered around their venue.
With a centralized QR menu system, you can seamlessly integrate many other areas of your business:
A professional QR code menu system will take all of these different technologies and make them work together. It will also provide you with powerful tools to manage and understand your customers and their ordering habits – and with on-hand support
A free QR code approach is great for a couple or few codes …but are limited in scope compared to the more professional systems.
They are difficult to integrate into the backbone of your hotel or venue operation.
And the idea of downloading an app to your phone has been proven to be less effective too. Customers who might be in the area, or who rarely visit are unlikely to install a complete app for the amount they might use it.
If it’s really free you’re looking for in terms of trying it out for your venue, or in terms of understanding the pros and cons, and any process issues you might face. Then you can simply start with a free version of a professional software system.
With Orderlina, you can install and test a professional QR system easily, without making a purchase, simply select the free option here.
The free version of oderlina is great for testing, it provides you with:
We’ve focussed more on QR menus, but we’ve also touched on how a QR menu can serve your business services throughout your venue.
Rather than just having a specific QR code linked to a specific menu, it’s better to offer links seamlessly to a wide range of services that you offer.
But at the same time, having them all linked together in the back end of your hotel system.
This is where a professional integrated QR code system can bring much more productivity to your business, and greater flexibility and choice to your guests.
Table ordering – The classic QR code menu ordered from a restaurant table, and the type of system many free QR code systems will work for. With Professional systems, however, you can manage multiple ordering areas within one venue.
Service Ordering – When offering other services, or simply ordering via room service, anywhere on site. Your guests can order a spa treatment while they’re at the dining table.
Customer-facing – Integrated chat facilities give your customer the sense they are directly and constantly connected directly to your concierge service. It also means you can resolve any queries fast, thus reducing any barriers to revenue. Plus you can gain insights from customers’ queries on how well your system and your business are performing.
Greater POS options – Connectivity to a wide variety of POs systems further facilitates integration into your venue.
Advanced tracking – Don’t just track the food and drink ordered, track what services are ordered, and from where within your venue.
Multi-site management – Gain oversight and reporting mechanisms throughout a chain of sites. Make global changes, as well as changes at a more granular level per site.
These possibilities mean that an in-depth QR code system can take your venue well beyond just the food order upon arrival. They can free you up to focus on your guests, and see what is working for you.
Orderlina comes with an ongoing chat function and support in the form of how-to videos, and more.
Not only that, but a professional, supported, and integrated QR code system is more cost-effective. We’ll get into some details on that next.
What many restaurant and hotel owners overlook is the economics behind an investment in a QR code platform.
Our clients regularly see a 30% increase in food and beverage sales alone, before taking into account order increases on other services.
This increased revenue alone can potentially pay for the platform multiple times over.
A platform like Hotefy is less a cost and more a gateway to increased revenue.
Consider the impact on your customers’ experience too.
One major difference between a standard QR code generator and an encompassing guest management system is one of perception, so let’s look at that next.
One simple way to view using QR code restaurant menus is that is a tool that provides a function.
This tool has advantages for both guests and venue owners. But it is simply a tool to facilitate a transaction relationship.
The difference between a QR code system where you simply generated a QR code from a URL, and an integrated QR code system is one of greater customer focus and a more satisfying customer experience.
Professional QR code systems function alongside other areas of your venue and alongside the guest, throughout their stay at your venue.
A more in-depth system will enable your hotel and your staff to create a digital menu and a closer experience with guests.
It can bring to the fore more services available to guests, allow more targeted sales and marketing activities that guests will want to see, and enable you to understand guests’ needs far more with real data you can analyze.
All this helps to foster a greater customer experience.
You will no longer have to see guests ordering a meal off-site now they know they can order food at a moment’s notice, at a table, or in the case of the Hotefy app, in their room.
No app installed on their device – that they rarely use.
Guests will not need to scan tour brochures to find local activities …when you can more easily highlight and suggest potential activities on-site, or in the area – which can lead to additional commissions for tours and other events.
They’re less likely to skip off to find the local gym if they’re already aware that you have one on-site.
Alongside this… A standard generated QR code cannot effectively help you to manage your loyalty program, offer bespoke discounts, or allow your guests to chat with you regarding any requests or queries.
So, if you’re serious about using a QR system in your restaurant, hotel, or venue, then let’s look at the best next steps…
Due diligence is, of course, key to getting the right system in place to suit your needs.
You’ve likely experimented with some free QR codes already by way of learning more. And as a more serious investment in your hotel, you’re ready to test a professional platform.
Here’s a simple 3 step approach to your QR solution
For some further exploration, you will find the immersive experience you need by booking a 15 minute demo which offers a peek into the wide range of services your venue can employ.
Beyond that, you should then sign up for our free version, so you can test it out within your own venue.
Once you’ve tested the software in your own setting, then you’ll have a better understanding of which package suits you best. So then go ahead and select one of the three packages here.
Or come and talk to us so we can help with any questions or to find out more.