We live in a consumer-driven society. Online reviews inform purchase decisions, and the increasing sophistication of web-connected devices continues to put more power into the hands of the customer.
The restaurant sector is no stranger to tech-driven trends. Diners will now scour the web before booking a table, eager for public opinion on their shortlisted eateries, and when it comes to booking, they’ll expect to be able to pick up the nearest device and reserve a table at said restaurant without ever having to speak to anyone.
If anything gets in their way during this process, they’re likely to head elsewhere – quickly.
This new world order will surely strike a degree of fear into the heart of the traditional restaurateur who still values positive reviews in the press and the somewhat more personable approach of telephone booking.
This is entirely understandable, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the best way to capture the attention of diners and ensure they return again and again (while shouting from the digital rooftops about how wonderful you are), is to make their experience at your establishment memorable.
Great food and attentive service will undoubtedly always be the main drivers of this, but technology now plays just as pivotal a role in the guest experience.
With that in mind, we’ve picked out three key restaurant technology trends your guests will expect this year and beyond. Are you making the most of them in your restaurant?
1. Mobile-ready online booking
Does your restaurant offer online booking? If so – great! But does it work perfectly on a smartphone?
A survey of two-thousand UK adults discovered that the vast majority spent sixty hours every year looking at their smartphone both first thing during the morning and last thing at night. That colossal figure is only likely to rise, and again highlights the nation’s dependency on the pocket computer.
An online table booking system is now an essential, but if it doesn’t automatically scale down for use on smaller screens, you simply won’t receive as many online bookings as you could.
Try it now. If you have to pinch and zoom to interact with the booking process or find yourself squinting to try and make out the text, it’s time to invest further in your online booking system.
2. Mobile contactless payment
In the UK, we’re some way ahead of other nations when it comes to contactless payments. This means UK consumers are growing more used to casually tapping their credit card, smartphone or smartwatch on a Chip and Pin terminal at the checkout.
In restaurants, settling the bill should be just as straightforward, and there’s some great technology available to make this possible.
By investing in mobile contactless Chip and Pin units, you’ll give diners what they want: effortless, instant settlement of bills without the need to fumble around for change.
3. Tablets (table-side)
There was a time when the thought of tablets as order pads in restaurants was unpalatable to all but the most nondescript of large chains, but things have moved on a little.
If you’ve previously disregarded digital waiter order pads, believing them to be inappropriate for your establishment, it’s time to realign your thinking. Guests expect – and indeed are still impressed by – the presence of tablet-based ordering.
Thankfully, the cost of such hardware has reduced rapidly, as has the software that is required to make table-side waiter pad ordering possible. It’s a solid investment and one your diners will thank you for in returned visits.
We’ve picked out just three tech trends every restaurant should pay attention to in 2017, but there are plenty more, which we’ll cover in future posts. If your establishment is missing one or more of the above, it’s time to bite the bullet (and swallow your pride, where appropriate), and invest in the future of your business.