Jun 8, 2023
 min read

From Data to Delight: Enhancing the Restaurant Guest Experience with Personalization

This article outlines:

Why personalization is essential for restaurants

What restaurants need to get started

How brands can use first-party data to tailor the guest experience


Consumers have become so accustomed to personalized experiences that 91% of people are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. While personalization has become table stakes for industries like e-commerce, it remains a competitive advantage within the restaurant industry.

Whether guests are dining on-premise or off, restaurant brands can make every guest feel like a regular by leveraging first-party data to tailor each touch point to their preferences, order history, visit frequency, preferred marketing channel, and more.


It starts with building an integrated restaurant tech stack that seamlessly shares data (Hint: CRM and CDP are key components). Next, prioritizing direct digital ordering channels is essential because brands have complete ownership of their guest data and relationship.

For a detailed breakdown of how to maximize revenue and scale with direct digital ordering—plus practical tips for empowering guests to order direct—download our ebook: Everything You Need to Know About Direct Ordering.


How Restaurants Can Use Data to Personalize the Guest Experience

Once a restaurant brand has begun collecting first-party guest data, the options for personalizing the guest experience are endless.

Here are a few examples that will help …

  • strengthen the relationship with guests via elevated hospitality
  • provide a seamless, end-to-end guest journey on- and off-premise
  • create memorable dining experiences that keep guests coming back, spending more, and engaging with the brand in new ways

Individualized Recommendations

No matter how a guest chooses to order—online, drive-thru, counter, kiosk, table, etc.—brands can make them feel valued and encourage them to try new menu items by offering individualized recommendations.

With visibility into a guest’s order history, brands can offer data-driven suggestions in-person or digitally to make the ordering experience seamless and enjoyable. This could include a guest’s favorite dish or new items that align with their dietary restrictions and preferred modifications.


Brands can further tailor the guest experience and increase conversion within the digital ordering flow by:

  • Putting the guest’s favorite items at the top for ease of reordering
  • Suggesting items based on their previous orders
  • Presenting relevant item pairings, such as a burger and a beer
  • Giving the guest easy access to their transaction history

1:1 Marketing

Targeted marketing campaigns are critical for driving guest acquisition and retention. Restaurant brands can (and should) use data to segment guests and create personalized offers and promotions to boost sales, visit frequency, and engagement.

For example, a Japanese restaurant could send a personalized email or SMS message to guests who typically order sushi on the weekend, offering a discount on their favorite roll the next time they order lunch Monday-Thursday. A few days later, the brand could launch a social media ad campaign targeting that same guest segment to motivate them to act on the exclusive offer (and keep the brand top of mind).

This type of 1:1 communication—based on insights like purchase behavior, order history, or dietary preferences—can turn one-time visitors into loyal brand advocates with high lifetime value (LTV) by making them feel seen and appreciated.

Download the 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide

A Tailored Dining Experience

When guest data is easily accessible at every touch point, each team member—whether it’s their first day on the job or their 300th—can recognize regulars upon arrival and tailor every individual’s dining experience to their preferences and behavior.

By training staff to access guest profiles or notes before or during interactions, brands can make every guest feel like a regular. For example:

  • Inquiring if they’d like to start with the wedge salad again
  • Congratulating them on their progress toward a loyalty program milestone
  • Thanking them for their Google review
  • Acknowledging their child’s peanut allergy
  • Noting how the brand is making improvements based on their recent survey feedback

Surprise and Delight

Restaurants of all types can use guest profile data within the restaurant CRM, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or high school graduation, to surprise and delight guests. A special greeting, free dessert, or a small gift can leave a lasting impression.

On a typical day, brands can use data to anticipate the needs and preferences of guests before they arrive for a pickup order or reservation. In those instances, the surprise-and-delight moment could be putting a few extra packets of a guest’s favorite dipping sauce in their to-go bag, or ensuring a guest’s favorite cocktail is waiting for them at their reserved table.

No matter the occasion, this type of elevated hospitality can set a brand apart.

With Personalization, Everyone Wins

When restaurants start using data to personalize and streamline the dining experience, both guests and the brand will benefit. 

Guests will feel valued and well taken care of when their specific needs and preferences are anticipated and accommodated.

In turn, brands can expect this boost in guest satisfaction to positively impact sales, visit frequency, reviews, recommendations, guest LTV, and overall growth.

Contact our team to learn how Olo can help your brand harness first-party data and personalize the guest experience to maximize revenue.

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