The restaurant industry has traditionally been slow to embrace technology and innovative digital solutions. But in 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that and forced restaurants to look beyond traditional. More contactless technology, ways to separate customers from other customers and many additional sanitary measures. Many of the initiatives were the result of the challenge of finding enough help and providing the expected service to customers.
Technology and innovation have helped, if not saved, restaurants that have transformed into this new connected and contactless era. They embraced online ordering, self-checkouts and contactless payments for delivery and pickup.
So which digital trends and tools should be prioritized in 2022 to stay up-to-date, and even ahead of the competition?
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A dominant trend is QR codes. These are important tools for driving restaurant growth and improving the customer experience, enabling dynamic menus that allow restaurateurs to avoid wasting time and budget printing menus and testing new fare.
QR codes are expected to increase by 10% in 2022, following a jump of 15% last year and 25% in 2020. What surprised me is that 68% of adults say they like the convenience and are likely pay using contactless or mobile payment options. if the restaurant offers it.
During COVID, QR codes have served as substitutes for traditional touch menus to prevent the spread of germs. But QR codes represent how technology can transform the dining experience to benefit restaurant customers through self-service ordering and checkout, giving employees the ability to turn more tables and get more tips.
Codes help restaurateurs better understand customer preferences with data and provide greater convenience. At the same time, diners can continue to order food and drinks without having to worry about flagging down a server. With QR codes and mobile menu/ordering, restaurants can introduce loyalty programs, customer rewards, and special offers that can help improve the dining experience of future customer visits. A good example of data that can be captured through mobile ordering platforms is getting immediate customer feedback, by asking customers to quickly press a button to rate their meal and the customer experience. Some newer systems allow the customer to easily filter your menu based on dietary restrictions or preferences such as gluten-free, peanut-free, or dairy-free.
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The use of NFC (Near Field Technology) is gaining popularity. By simply passing a mobile phone, tablet or contactless bank card near a wireless payment terminal, customers can make sure they are not touching any common surface and make payments without risking their health. I currently do this at the grocery store and at the gas station, but I didn’t know the exact name. Watch for it in restaurants when the waiter brings a handheld terminal to your table for payment. Some systems allow you to receive useful information such as opening hours, menu options and even waiting times and seat availability.
Contactless payments are estimated to triple from $2 trillion to $6 trillion globally by 2024, and having such options would be extremely important to 34% of customers. Cashless, no human contact required – more hygienic and safer – it’s fast, instant and convenient.
We are now familiar with online reservations. Watch out for the possibility of selecting a specific table location in the establishment and ordering your drinks and appetizers in advance, all ready for your arrival. The goal is to reduce the waiting time. Restaurants can use these systems to manage seating, waitlists, customer loyalty, and dining preferences, as well as collect vital customer data, whether for contact tracing or information. on the market.
Online ordering and delivery apps have become very popular during COVID, and they continue to grow in popularity. This service is here to stay as diners get used to getting the food they want when, where and how they want it. The food delivery market is now worth more than $150 billion worldwide, which has more than tripled since 2017, largely due to the pandemic, according to McKinsey statistics.
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All of these tech trends were on display at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago in May. In a future article, I will introduce you to new state-of-the-art catering equipment.
We were thrilled for the grilling demonstration scheduled for May 21 at the Springfield Wabash Ace store. The new date is Saturday, June 11 with LLCC’s Chef Josh Dineen. LLCC Culinary Arts Instructor Kim Carter will be at the Jacksonville Ace on June 25, and Culinary Coordinator Jolene Lamb will be grilling at the Ace in Taylorville on July 9, all at 10 a.m.
Jay Kitterman is a kitchen and special events consultant at Lincoln Land Community College.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry Certificates, and non-credit community courses through the Culinary Institute.
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