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Ahead of this year’s Restaurant and Bar Tech Live, we’ve brought together the best trends and technology for the restaurant, bar and hospitality sectors. In an ever more competitive sector, we know that restauranteurs need to stay relevant, and consumers want their dining-out experience to complement their tech-led lifestyles. So how can you take advantage of the many opportunities that the future of restaurant technology presents? Read on to find out.

In a recent study, the gap between what restauranteurs think their customers want, and what the customers actually want was stark. Customers wanted easy payments, extensive choice, high quality food and a great experience. Conversely, restaurant owners prioritised Wi-Fi access and loyalty programmes.

The same study showed that 95% of restaurant owners agree that technology improves their efficiency, and 73% of diners feel that technology in all forms improves their experience.

What is the future of restaurant technology?

Takeout

2019 has seen a continued increase in takeaway orders and food delivery services and it won’t be letting up any time soon. More formal restaurant brands have suddenly found themselves with demand for takeaway and delivery apps have somewhat cornered the market.  Consumers may become loyal to the third-party delivery apps rather than individual restaurants so brands can look to technology to help them own their transient diner groups though their own apps, websites and on-site self-service ordering and collection points.

Try this: Many redesigned and newly built restaurants are designating a specific section for ordering and collection, using self-service kiosks to streamline the process and allow staff to provide a warm welcome and manage the process.

Payment

Convenience and security are at the forefront of modern diners’ minds, so mobile and card payments are key to delivering a positive experience. 90% of diners will now pay for their meal on a credit or debit card, and 58% of diners would use mobile payment or an app if it was offered. Currently only 22% of restaurants offer this service, and many risk losing custom as digital natives move closer to entirely cashless transactions. Increasing customer satisfaction by offering a range of payment options will be key for future restaurants technology.

Try this: built-in table ordering points can handle menu browsing, ordering, payment and calling for service as well as additional features like allergy checks and loyalty.

Experiences

Given the number of dining options now available to consumers, restaurants must now work harder than ever to deliver excellent standards of service, food and value. A great experience can mean the difference between a good or bad online review which can have a huge impact on a restaurant’s reputation. Technology can help deliver great customer experiences offering everything from ordering, payment, menu suggestions and promoting offers – to table games and entertainment for kids while they wait.

Try this: Table games – interactive projections directly onto the surface of the dining table at the touch of a button. Competitive or collaborative games help to reduce perceived waiting time while food is being prepared and can be branded and adapted for individual locations or chains.

Convenience

Changing lifestyles mean fewer people are cooking for themselves. More than 80% of people now eat out at least once a week which means there are opportunities for forward thinking restaurant owners to capitalise on this demand. Offering the most variety and flexibility will set restaurants apart and technology can help to speed up kitchen processes, order taking and selecting specific dietary needs.

Try this: Digital signage in restaurant windows can help to attract passer-by attention. Many spontaneous diners will make their decisions based on menu presentation and special offers which can be instantly updated via intuitive digital signage

Communication:

In a digital age where processes can quickly become faceless and transactional, it may seem surprising to suggest that technology can actually aid and improve communication for restaurants. Automating processes such as online reservations, seating plans and payment frees up front of house staff to speak with diners and provide exceptional service. Messaging and updates can be further communicated via digital signage and screens, meaning that menus can be updated instantly to hide out of stock items and avoid disappointment. Diners can be rewarded for their loyalty through apps and at the point of sale.

Try this: Omnichannel experience is a popular buzzword retail but restaurants can also embrace omnichannel by investing in websites, apps, menus, ordering and payment points that have a consistent look and feel.

Personalisation:

Everything from pricing to menus and marketing will be touched by personalisation going forward. The latest technology analyses trends and data to track ordering, events, seasonality and even the weather to finely tune the restaurant offer to meet their diners’ needs. Studies show that the opportunity to order specific to your requirements can increase spend by up to 30%. With ever more demand for specific dietary requirements due to health, lifestyles, nutrition, sustainability or religion, the most successful restaurants will offer high levels of personalisation but the key is to meet expectations – if you offer it you have to be able to deliver it!

Try this: Small format digital devices let diners check menu items for specifics such as allergens or specific ingredients and tailor make their menu accordingly. Using technology to display and collect this information means that there is minimal room for error in the ordering process and trends might inform the develop of specific menu items to exactly suit your audience.

Back of house:

Technology and Automation are revolutionising back of house processes for restaurants as well as front of house. Robotics and sophisticated PoS software help restaurant owners to reduce overheads and drastically improve efficiency while improving the experience for diner through shorter waiting times. While this will undoubtedly affect the distribution of labour, new opportunities arise for “food engineers” and technology managers.

Try this: Digital devices are ideal for staff training in restaurants, using VR and video to explain processes to new starters, testing out scenarios in a simulated environment designed to reflect your exact kitchen or restaurant layout.

How can restaurants implement technology?

The best restaurant technologies help to deliver exceptional service to diners while increasing spend and reducing costs, but the execution of this will very drastically even within the sector. Some of the future restaurant technology solutions are perfect for the quick service restaurant sector while others may work better in a more formal dining setting.

The crucial first step is to identify the essential touchpoints for customers and understand their journey through the dining experience. Discovering the pinch points will inform where technology can help and build the best possible platform for successful integration and implementation. Contact our expert team to find out how technology can work in your restaurant.