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Innovative Chief Customer Officer at BookingBug. Leading operational changes across the global business whilst managing a global services function

Discover how Waitrose and BookingBug partnered to offer in-store events to increase customer loyalty

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Here at BookingBug we're engrained in partnering with our customers to ensure they are successful, driving revenue and better customer journey experiences.

Over the last three years, we've partnered with Waitrose, one of Britain's famous and largest grocery chains in the UK with over 350 locations, creating a partnership where we developed one of the leading examples of added value services in the market today.

Waitrose has used BookingBug’s platform to introduce in-store services and events like cooking classes and Yoga, with fully branded booking systems, wait lists and other features.

This helps them differentiate themselves, create a closer relationship with customers, as well as literally delivering new revenue streams alongside the core business.

We spoke with the Waitrose team to dig into some of the detail here.

Can you introduce yourself and your role?

My name is Chantelle Morgan and I work across all three cookery schools as assistant Marketing Manager. In terms of using BookingBug, my role is to plan our calendar of activity at all schools and post online for customers to book identifying what customers want and when.

With three schools across the UK and two in London, we attract a very large range of customers. Our classes range span the spectrum spectrum of cuisines, from classic world food such as Italian or Spanish to street food such as Indian, Thai, Japanese, Persian and Korean.

We teach a large range of different skills such as different levels of breadmaking, afternoon tea, pastry work all the way to learning knife skills such as filleting a fish.

The day courses include vegetarian, vegan and all the current trends in cooking at the moment. We then have our evening classes, which are more of a social experience. Here we teach simple recipes like sushi, pasta, tacos, steamed bao buns, and curry courses just to name a few.

What was the situation that lead you to look for a new solution?

When I came on board about six years ago, BookingBug was still in the pipeline and Waitrose was using SeeTickets to offer bookings. This solution wasn’t scalable and didn’t integrate with the rest of our online presence.

We needed a way for customers to book cookery classes from the Waitrose website, a solution that could be accessed by the team from anywhere while providing real time insights on attendees and interest.

This way we could keep track of if customers cancelled, had allergies or dietary requirements, etc. Before having a centralised system, we had chefs asking how many people would be attending and we couldn’t prepare accurately.

How has it affected your business practice?

BookingBug makes life a lot easier for us. It supports all of the essential functions we need including email reminders and promotions. For example, using BookingBug we can generate a coupon ourselves and easily track how many people are using it.

BookingBug also allows the customer team at each school to self manage and better plan their week.

For the customer, it’s a seamless system. It uses all of our branding, look and feel, which is crucial in the food industry. Imagery of fresh pasta or a delicious meal makes the customer more inclined to book.

How have you measured success?

The biggest benefit is that the system makes things a lot easier, clearer and quicker. For example, if I want to add a new Pad Thai course or view attendees of a certain class, I can do it seamlessly and instantly through BookingBug.

We now take over 7,000 bookings a year for individuals through the platform. We also get groups contacting us directly which are also scheduled on BookingBug by the team inhouse. It’s a truly multichannel solution.

The marketing team and general managers can also use BookingBug to track our history. When we are planning the next two months of activity, we can look back at the best selling events and track trends to ensure we are constantly putting on the most popular events.

Our customer service team constantly has BookingBug open on their screens every day and we sell a lot of gift certificates for classes which can be easily booked by their recipients.

What’s next for Waitrose Cookery School and how do you see BookingBug fitting into this plan?

At the moment, the current trends are Japanese tapas (Izakaya) and Persian food. Healthy eating is an ongoing trend as people are becoming more conscious. We even do a vegan macaron course and see more things like this coming up.

BookingBug definitely supports our expansion plans. We are already looking at how branches of Waitrose could potentially adopt BookingBug as well. This could be for any type of activity including product demonstrations or tastings.

Last year we even offered some in-store yoga classes using the platform so I’m excited to see what comes next.

Want to continue learning about retail events? Download our free eBook, Transforming the Customer Experience Through In-Store Events here.

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