What is the importance of UX/UI in the hospitality industry?

ux ui design digital experience

Guest Experience in the hospitality industry is especially complex, is constantly evolving, and is multifaceted. In addition to the business design, service design, and physical design of hospitality experiences, digital design (UX/UI) is becoming increasingly more important. 


Today, the digital experience is fundamental and its design is nothing without the proper understanding of the full user experience. Consider this: the service, physical space, food, and business are all designed to work in unison and enhance the brand experience.  But what happens when one part isn’t working well with the others? The whole experience can be ruined. The same goes with digital.


If your digital user experience is faulty, guests might not even make it to your restaurant to get a taste of what’s cooking behind the doors. At Livit, we focus our design around a 360 guest-centered approach that not only includes UX/UI but maximizes its value. So what might be gained from UX/UI in the hospitality industry? The possibilities are endless but here are some reasons why we here at Livit don’t take it lightly… 


Let’s look at it this way – what if we looked at the digital experience the same way we look at a physical venue? 


This would mean that the digital product, for instance an ordering app, a website, or digital display boards, is the space that your guests are stepping into. Those “steps” are traced in a guest journey map and a concept is designed to provide the best digital guest experience.  


Much like a physical venue, you want to make sure that every step in the guest journey is intentional and interactions are seamless. The most successful digital products mirror the physical restaurant space providing the same level of service and convenience. Check out some great use samples that integrate the digital, physical, and service designs through clever and well thought out UX and UI. 



starbucks ux ui design

Photo from Starbucks Stories.


Starbucks –  Simplifying daily routines  


The Starbucks Mobile App has been known as a great reference of “design perfection” when it comes to its UI.  The UX Collective outlines 7 reasons why it has proven to be a trendsetter for on-the-go ordering.  These reasons include the “front and center” visibility of your star points, merging multiple gift cards to one location, and top level customization to name a few. But successful design of the app couldn’t have been realized without a thorough understanding of their guests’ journey and pain points.  Have you ever been holding on to a gift card with 12 cents on the balance? Or maybe you’ve been racking up points but not sure how many or when to use them?  The Starbucks Mobile App takes care of it all to not only deliver on a great digital experience but also maximize opportunities into an outstanding digital experience, exceeding expectations.  



burger king ux ui

Photo from Citrusbits.


Burger King – A digital experience for everyone, everywhere


From an average of 1 to 2 star ratings to 4.5, a carefully thought out redesign of Burger King’s Mobile App revamped the user experience for the better. Acknowledging the multilingual and international guests that Burger King serves, designers Citrusbits “implemented sophisticated image handling, data synchronization, GPS, utilization of offline user environments, and many more advanced techniques to keep the app working quickly and beautifully everywhere.”  But what do all those fancy tech words mean to the end user? It’s accessible, reliable, and built for everyone. As designers, this means multiple guest journeys spanning various countries and cultures must be taken into account to fit into a single digital experience.  The process and research is no easy task in developing an accessible UX, but then what’s next?  The UI design is developed to ensure guests are able to experience the digital product the way it was intended. Paired with the branding and vibrant colors by which Burger King is recognized, we can see why the new digital product has been rated so highly.  Be sure to check out Citrusbit’s Food Delivery App checklist they used to develop the new product for Burger King. 


sweetgreen ux ui

Photo from Dotconor.



Sweetgreen – Blending physical and digital


If we can’t emphasize just how important understanding your guests is before starting to think about your digital strategy, take a peak at this case study of Sweetgreen by Conor O-Hollaren.  In-depth research consisted more than just understanding buying patterns, but a system was created that incorporated in-store benchmarking, crew interviews, design principle analysis, and getting hands dirty behind the kitchen counter to fully understand the ins and outs of the Sweetgreen brand. The result? The app not only shines for guests through high touch personalization, but also includes a robust content and inventory management system for local managers and intensive analytics for global operations and leadership.  Thinking on such a scale from micro to macro makes the best use of digitalization in the food and beverage industry, maximizing value for guests and for business operations. 


ux ui design restaurant design


There are a myriad of ways in which brands must understand the customer journey to design a successful UX and UI.  Success, for that matter, means first understanding the goals and essence of your brand and how that gets translated to your guests.  This can range from maximizing profits, bringing a wider offering, developing a broader target, increasing your exposure, or incorporating more brand storytelling.  How does that translate to guests? Ordering efficiency, making your brand more accessible, developing a loyal community, and incorporating your brand into your guests’ lifestyle are some of the ways to do so.  


The relationship between guest experience and integration of digital products will continue to get more complex to navigate.  Digital innovation is advancing in exponential levels and guest expectations don’t trail far behind.  Your digital products, however few or many, won’t be successful for your brand by just having a good-looking interface.  We must always ask ourselves why does this digital product exist for you and what is it adding to the overall guest experience.  


Not sure where to start? Read up about Livit’s 360 approach to design and how we can help you maximize your digital strategy.    

1_ https://citrusbits.com/portfolio/burger-king/

Tags:Guest Experience, Design
Food for Thought 2022 Trends & Insights in the future of Hospitality Download here

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