How tech can enhance the dining experience

Restaurants enter the digital age

Our hunter-gatherer days in the wilderness are long gone. Technology has given us a vast range of food options right at our fingertips. However, it isn’t just food delivery where tech has impacted the food industry.

Consumers use tech in every aspect of their lives – so it’s hardly surprising that these expectations have also infiltrated the dining experience.

As QSR notes, there have been growing demands for restaurants to provide Wi-Fi capabilities, online ordering and loyalty programmes in recent years. But as tech evolves, restaurants need to keep pace. And with so much competition, restaurants can’t afford to fall behind.

The good news is that many restaurants are already embracing the digital age. Managing director at ACSI, David Van Amburg, told Hospitality Net: “Restaurants are adapting their menus and technology in line with shifting consumer preferences, as Millennial tastes for fresh food, mobile ordering, and automated kiosks take hold.”

It isn’t just Millennials that want tech to enhance their dining experiences. The National Restaurant Association’s 2017 State of the Industry Report stated: “Acceptance of the more common types of consumer-facing restaurant technology – such as online ordering, kiosks and mobile interaction – appears to be gaining ground among consumers of all ages.”

A third of customers are now using more restaurant technologies than they were two years ago, NBC News reported. But what technologies are industry leaders implementing? And what impact is it having on the dining experience?

Speed it up

Time is valuable, and any restaurant that can help customers save time will go into the good books. While customers don’t want to scrimp on food quality, you can speed up the dining experience with digital kiosks and mobile ordering and paying.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, revealed plans to fit self-service ordering kiosks in all of its US stores by 2020. Not only does it speed up the ordering process, QSR also outlined other benefits:

- Provides restaurants with an opportunity to gather data to better understand guests
- Reduces human error that can occur through miscommunication or language barriers
- Enables front-line staff to engage with customers, rather than staring at a screen

But it’s not just ordering where tech can speed things up. Understanding that there are times when customers are in a hurry, PizzaExpress introduced Pay with App. Via their mobile app, customers can now pay for their meal and split the bill with friends – all in under a minute.

Are you Insta ready?

Going out for a meal is an experience. Customers want it to be memorable for the right reasons – the food, the company, and the photos. We’re living in the Instagram foodie generation, where #food has been used nearly 200 million times. But it’s not just the presentation of the food that you need to think about. Is your location and interior design Instagrammable? And do you provide your guests with free Wi-Fi? Guests want to be able to share their experience as soon as possible.

Get online

If you don’t already, you need to get an online presence. Your website should provide guests with options for online reservation or a chance to order online. But don’t just stop at a website. Find out where your audience is and get a presence there. Social media is a great way for restaurants to engage with their customers.

Knowing where your audience is also gives you a way to deal with a crisis or complaints. Earlier this year, KFC faced a big public crisis when its stores ran out of chicken. However, the company issued an apology that resonated with its audience and it managed to get social media back on its side, BBC News reported.

Speak to Linney about using technology to improve your customers’ dining experiences and engagement.

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