The importance of “investment in the best technology to connect with guests”

An interview with Don Fertman, Chief Development Officer, Subway. By Ross Falconer

Since it first started serving airport passengers 25 years ago, Subway has grown exponentially with 242 sandwich restaurants now located in airports around the world.

In 2018, Subway opened 15 new airport restaurants, including the second location at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, the first at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the fourth at Phuket International Airport, and the second at Sharjah International Airport.

Don Fertman, Chief Development Officer, Subway: “We have put together a team of social media experts and listeners to facilitate customer engagement across all major social media platforms. By engaging and listening to our customers in real time, and within venues where they interact in their daily lives, we have a better feel for and can more quickly respond to our customers’ needs and ideas.”

“Subway provides real convenience to travellers, as well as a great, customised sandwich they can easily bring on a flight,” says Don Fertman, Chief Development Officer, Subway. “Airports around the world are finding that many passengers long for something familiar while travelling and Subway has proven to meet that demand. With 42,000+ restaurants in more than 100 countries around the world, it is familiar to passengers and employees no matter where they are from.”

Subway’s efforts to enhance the dining experience for customers include introducing its new ‘Subway Fresh Forward’ design to restaurants around the globe. “The new environment includes a more contemporary design and an investment in the best technology to connect with guests,” Fertman explains.

More than 1,200 restaurants around the world feature the new restaurant design, while another 550 restaurants are currently either in the construction or design phase.

The brand has refined its digital options, such as the Subway App for remote ordering. The digital focus was truly embraced with the creation of Subway Digital in 2016 to develop an omni-channel strategy. Subway Fresh Forward digital highlights include digital menu boards, and Apple and Samsung Pay options.

“The Subway brand is in the midst of an exciting transformation that includes introducing new and improved products, refined operations, creating an even greater customer experience and staying true to providing nutritious, affordable food,” says Fertman. “With these remote ordering options and the Subway menu’s easy portability, passengers or employees can go to the designated pick-up area, grab their meal and take it away with them. A Subway meal is an airport passenger’s ultimate carry-on. Most often, quick grab and go meals in airports are not the healthiest choices. But with the Subway brand’s variety of fresh vegetables, lean proteins and bread baked fresh daily, it is a popular choice for people boarding long flights.”

2019 will see Subway roll out an US$80 million-plus company investment in a restaurant refresh, which will emphasise new flavours and a more personalised guest experience. Subway provides real convenience to travellers, as well as a great, customised sandwich they can easily bring on a flight.

Guest feedback is also a vital part of Subway’s strategy to further strengthen its business. Last year, the brand introduced a new Guest Feedback Platform, capturing feedback through simple online surveys and organising that feedback in the platform.

Fertman explains that the platform enables franchise owners to quickly and easily access feedback in order to learn and respond to issues, while helping to identify trends and opportunity areas to improve the overall guest experience. “We have also put together a team of social media experts and listeners to facilitate customer engagement across all major social media platforms. By engaging and listening to our customers in real time, and within venues where they interact in their daily lives, we have a better feel for and can more quickly respond to our guests’ needs and ideas.”

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