Top 5 Restaurant Technologies for Positive Guest Experiences
Restaurateurs incorporate new innovations to improve their offering
Technology in restaurants is rapidly evolving and everything from online delivery to payment processing is helping the businesses meet the needs of their diners. It is also changing the way restaurants do business. Working on razor thin profit margins, restaurants need any advantage in order to stay competitive in this quickly changing industry. Utilizing technology helps restaurants provide a better customer experience, whether you want the technology visible or not.
- Online Delivery – We are all noticing it. Customers are staying home, more but still want to dine out. More than 61 percent of restaurant visits are for takeaway, and to meet this demand 80 percent of restaurant chains are testing delivery options in a market predicted to grow to $15.9 billion by 2020. But how does a small chain or an independent restaurant take on the task of delivery without all the work it usually entails? Using delivery services including Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grub Hub represents a huge opportunity for restaurant owners, as they don’t have to be in the delivery business and can instead focus on the kitchen and customers in their establishment. This trend is even launching complete virtual delivery-only restaurants without any brick and mortar locations.
- Tablets at the Table – Restaurants are quickly adapting the use of tech at the table to improve the guest experience. Ordering through devices at the table allows guests to be empowered to order extra drinks or food on-demand, and pay at their own leisure – enhancing their experience. For restaurant owners, this kind of tech is correlated that slightly higher checks, and includes a faster turnaround with more opportunities to serve additional guests. Other enhancements include partnering with mobile app services to determine bill-splitting, or even full payment of the meal after they’ve left the restaurant.
- Apps – Restaurants have a wealth of mobile apps available to help with every conceivable task or service. They can reduce time spent on the mundane busy work of running a restaurant. Reservation apps such as the new Reserve, waitlist management apps such as Seat Ninja, or online ordering apps and loyalty programs with geo-location push notifications help improve the guest experience and increase return visits. Unique services such as Leave No Car Behind are also providing an enhanced guest experience. Additionally, restaurant owners use internal apps for everything from inventory management and invoicing, to employee shift exchanges and HR training.
- Social Media – No longer an after-thought, restaurants need to place a priority on managing social media platforms and engaging in food influencer posts. Sharing captivating high-quality images and videos of food, beverages and events on your own social platforms is a great way to build community and create interest for your restaurant. The not-so-fun job of monitoring and responding to online reviews can be streamlined by using reputation management software. Adding photos of your restaurant on Google places not only improves your placement in online search results, it also makes new customers comfortable entering a place they’ve never been. Engagement from customers is only going to grow, and social media can assist you.
- Website optimization – Every business knows they need to have an online presence with their phone number and address listed on the top of the home page, but we’re seeing the emphasis change to more structured backend data. We are now seeing a shift in focus towards ‘user experience’ due to the improving technology within search engines that track and predict user behavior and searches. Getting answers to users as quickly as possible is the new goal, whether on your site or redirecting to another. Voice search and chat bots are the newest, shiniest tech, and as a result we will see answers appearing directly on the search engine without ever having to enter a website. Make sure your information is as robust as possible to be able to work with these new technologies.
If this all seems daunting to the already overwhelmed restaurant owner, there are a number of digital and social consultants that can help you with any of these items. And remember, don’t get so wrapped up in all the shiny new tech that you lose sight of what really matters, excellent service and true hospitality. That’s what makes for a successful restaurant.
The Colorado Restaurant Association works to protect and promote the entire Colorado foodservice industry. Colorado restaurants generate $12 billion in sales while employing 275,000 workers in 11,500 establishments.