Rational has transformed its engagement model with its dealer and operator networks, adopting online processes for the company’s communications, including navigating around the pandemic restrictions.
Previously the cooking equipment manufacturer was well-known for its face to face interactions at industry trade fairs and nationwide cooking demonstrations. But now the firm has combined both physical and digital relationships to give its support network more access to its services.
Rational’s marketing director Adam Knights said: “It quickly became clear that we could turn this sudden and unexpected challenge to our traditional mindset into opportunities to find new ways to engage with customers.”
This begun with the product launch of the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro cooking systems. Just weeks away from a planned live event, lockdown restrictions forced Rational to launch the products to a wide-reaching audience using digital platforms. The positive response to the successful digital launch galvanised the marketing team, giving them the confidence to explore the power of online further.
Alongside a series of newly-created videos introducing their cooking systems, Rational developed a series of interactive online webinars aimed at providing chefs from different sectors of the industry with specific and relevant information to their needs.
Knights continued: “Naturally we couldn’t replicate the smell, taste, and experience of our live demonstrations, so we looked at what alternative benefits we could bring to this new Rational experience. One of the most valuable things for our customers is their time.”
With Rational holding events online, as opposed to on site, a greater number of people from the same workplace could attend without hindering their daily operation. Meanwhile their time commitment was reduced, since they didn’t have to travel, and as they were being presented with sector-specific information, customers knew that the time spent would be relevant and valuable.
Knights said: “Our goal was to be informative and supportive, whilst retaining efficiencies for the customer. By going digital we were able to stream the new Rational experiences directly into their place of work or home, via their PCs, phones, or tablets. As a result, the number of digital event attendees this year to date has exceeded the total number that attended live events for the entirety of 2019.”
Continuing the company’s digital journey, Rational launched Expert Chef seminars. The first seminar in the series saw one of the UK’s most influential Indian chefs, Rehan Uddin of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network (ARON), showing how Rational’s cooking systems can replicate traditional Indian cooking techniques as well as allowing chefs the freedom to experiment with different methods. Following a particularly turbulent year for the foodservice and hospitality industry, Rational also launched regular seminars with expert panels discussing hot industry topics.
Knights added: “As well as the expert panel knowledge, we get the live feedback and questions from attendees which helps bring these perspectives right up to date. Being able to bring the industry together like this not only helps us to understand our customers’ needs but also, we hope, helps to inspire and encourage them.”
Having attended an online event, customers who would like to know more about Rational cooking systems have the opportunity to participate in a live demonstration, held in a local venue. This allows them to experience the cooking systems first-hand, supported by a Rational professional chef.
Knights concluded: “The new Rational experiences help us keep our finger on the pulse of what’s really happening in the industry. Rational has always been a chef’s company, so anything that helps us recognise the challenges and pressures chefs are facing is invaluable. The more we understand, the more we can help.”