In a notoriously competitive landscape, client experience is a key differentiating factor for the ever-expanding beach club industry. Digitising the payment process not only enhances the overall user experience, but it also creates new growth opportunities for beach clubs, explains Jacques Dejardin of Ulu Cliffhouse.
Cashless for a frictionless user experience
In the beach club industry, innovations such as digital payments can guarantee the customer a unique, frictionless and therefore more enjoyable experience. This is because cashless transactions create an environment where, from arrival to departure, a guest can enjoy a freedom of movement without stop points and checkpoints.
“A beach club experience is multifaceted - it can be for a true wanderlust-er seeking an escape and relaxation, or, in our case, for large-scale events with thousands of guests. Operating a big space and having a setup that allows guests to move freely around the venue without the burden of carrying cash, especially when wearing swimwear, or needing to identify their table, booking name, etc., allows for a much freer experience, which works hand-in-hand with the brand,” says Jacques Dejardin, Director at Ulu Cliffhouse, one of Bali's newest beach clubs.
Benefits for beach club operators
From the beach club owner or manager's perspective, digitalising payments also brings in several benefits. There are certainly financial advantages - speeding up service naturally increases the likely number of transactions. “There is also the benefit of unspent card loading,” notes Dejardin, though he cautions against abusive use of this benefit due to its potential impact on guest impression. “There will always be a small element of concern regarding refunds and loss of value perception with large-scale events where unloading cash late at night slows the end of the experience or it is forgotten completely. However, the impact and volume of these have been minimised thanks to simple refund structures for cashless.”
Other benefits of cashless on the operational front include quicker and safer processes. “We have operated both with and without cashless, and our overall experience was a faster service experience and slicker guest experience. Naturally, as an owner, cashless also removes the risk of cash loss and provides a greater sense of security,” Dejardin says. There are also marketing advantages, since digitising transactions allow beach clubs to collect data that can be used to better understand, and therefore serve, customers. “Profiling our guests and having a greater insight into their behaviours and purchase choices can only benefit our understanding of future guest needs,” he adds.
The future of beach clubs: better technology for more authenticity
Asked how he expects the beach club market to evolve in the years ahead, the first trend Jacques Dejardin foresees is increased competition in the developed areas of the market. “Even here in Bali, the speed at which beach club venues are opening is incredible; we all have to be on top of our game,” he says. He also believes that the current emphasis on improving standards throughout will remain. “Given the market we are in, I think our customers will continue to be more quality-conscious, and the standards of the food and beverage proposition will have to continue to increase.” In an era where instant communication and social media has made the client truly king, a more discerning and demanding customer will drive the need to offer a high-end, authentic and pleasurable experiences. “There is so much more we can do to elevate the quality of experiences. The ‘towel, sunbed, coconut and deep house’ offer will perhaps cease to be enough,” Dejardin notes.
This is when technology comes into play. Innovations, either through products, services or processes, can contribute to significantly enhance the user experience: “New touch points and experiential visits are something we talk about a lot,” Dejardin explains. However, technology should be an enabler, not an end in and of itself. It is helpful to deliver the basics well - to offer the seamless experience users will increasingly demand. “Holidaying in paradise will remain, for a large part of our audience, about the simple things. Therefore, if we can strip away barriers to enjoyment, such as tab and cash management systems, this will help to exceed expectations and make time spent with us feel effortless,” Dejardin concludes.
Jacques Dejardin is the Managing Director of The Blind Group and Director of Ulu Cliffhouse, one of the hottest venues on the island paradise of Bali. He has 25 years’ experience in F&B across Asia, Europe and North America and has opened over 30 venues.