Like many other bricks-and-mortar destinations facing online competition, restaurants are under mounting pressure to deliver much more than a nice meal.
Today’s diner expects a more convenient, engaging and seamless experience than ever before, and hospitality vendors are turning to technology to meet this demand.
As well as supplementing their kitchen operations, stock management and use of energy, the Internet of Things (IOT) is enabling restaurants across the world to deliver a richer customer experience, and vendors large and small are driving this movement.
À la carte
The dining experience often begins with a menu, but there are many forms this can take in the connected hospitality venue.
Restaurant chains are among the pioneers of digital signage; above-the-counter screens can display menu options in appealing HD detail, revealing more content through a slideshow than a static board would allow, or presenting different menus at different times of the day. Burger King’s digital menus are linked via cloud technology, enabling the chain to make global changes to pricing and content from a centralised content management system (CMS).
Additionally, interactive digital touchpoints can reduce queues, allowing customers to place orders quickly and easily from their table. They can also be used for upsell opportunities, promoting daily specials or omitting options that are out-of-stock.
Pan-Asian Soho restaurant Inamo has taken digital engagement a step further, wowing guests through its innovative use of interactive table surface technology. Inamo’s digital e-tables offer an interactive ordering system, and give diners the opportunity to customise the light above their table to signal their readiness to order. While they wait, customers can even watch their meal being cooked via an in-kitchen camera.
Technology with personality
In another powerful use case for IOT, restaurants are developing their own apps to ensure customers stay engaged with their brand through their smartphone. From free Wi-Fi access to push notification, vendors can gather valuable customer data, which can be analysed to deliver increasingly personalised levels of service.
One example of this is London’s self-described health/tech restaurant Vita Mojo. The venue offers customers a choice of over nine billion meal combinations, allowing them to define their selection in terms of flavour, ingredient, quantity, macro-nutrients, diet, and even personal goals.
This is delivered through an algorithm that adapts to each customer’s needs, adjusting the quantities of preferred ingredients to suit – and reducing the amount of wasted food in the process.
From tablet to table
In the name of convenience, apps are also enabling diners to pay via their smartphones from the table – or even ahead of arrival.
Although it enables a more independent ordering process, such technology does not remove the need for human interaction. Indeed, service is often strongest where it combines people and technology.
Restaurant waiting staff are commonly equipped with digital tablets, giving them access to detailed menu or dietary information, and enabling them to move freely around the venue, or communicate instantly with staff in the kitchen or bar.
TGI Fridays, for example, provides its serving staff with tablets to process orders and payments while at the table, cutting down the time spent processing orders, and ensuring its customers’ payment cards never leave their sight.
Creating a connected restaurant experience
As well as delivering a joined-up solution behind the scenes, IOT technology is helping restaurant vendors meet – and often exceed – customer demand.
While the influence of online processes and competition is undeniably an influence, restaurants are finding their own ways to innovate, drawing upon the digital world to serve up a unique and satisfying experience, from menu selection to settling the bill.
Grassfish offers intelligent solutions that help transform bricks-and-mortar venues into extraordinary digital destinations. Find out more here.