Adapting the restaurant experience for the 2020s

Photo by Eric McNew

The guest experience and serving the best possible version of that has always been the restaurant and food services industry’s central mission. As much as technology changes radically, some of the primary elements of a great guest experience remain the same. The real question is how technology intersects with perceptions and expectations around what a great guest experience in restaurants and food services should be. What’s the present state, and what will it likely be in the future?

To address this, industry leaders must constantly assess their restaurant management software and supporting technology solutions to meet current needs and be adaptable for what’s to come. What does that mean in the 2020s? How must restaurant and food services organisations match technology with the way that recent times and trends have shaped the way that consumers interact with restaurant locations and brands? First, organisations must adapt their technology to deliver experiences according to current perceptions and expectations.

An extension of consumer lifestyle around technology

Ordering quick meals and in-house dining are not single and isolated events in people’s lives. They are a part of the fabric of how people spend their time and manage their daily activities. That’s pointed the way to what the guest experience in restaurant and food services locations should be. It’s aligned to everything else in their lives that helps shape their expectations about how things should work, and how easy those things should be.

Technology has played an integral part in shaping consumer perceptions around all that. By the mid-2010s, mobile device functionality, related apps, web-based platforms were becoming prominent in initiating engagement with brands across the commercial spectrum. Yet even still, technology is just a means to an end. The reason the technology is so powerful is because of how it helps brands align to that question of lifestyle and expectation, and to the human responses it serves.

Restaurant and food services technology that corresponds to emotional payoffs

To deliver a great guest experience, savvy restaurateurs, franchise owners, and food services operators focus on the ways that technology intersects with human sensibilities and positive emotional experiences. In support, these are some emotional payoffs connected to technology that define a great guest experience in our present paradigm:

Freedom — processes that guests can initiate anywhere they are and with multiple options to place orders and pay for them, with mobile devices at the center Immediacy —ordering and payment methods that match the same ways guests manage other areas of their lives, with QR codes, web-based UI and associated UX familiar to users and do not require advanced levels of technical competence to gain positive results

Respect of boundaries — Technology like easy table bookings, multiple order fulfillment options, and SMS notifications driven by data-centric software demonstrates attention to detail when it comes to respecting guest personal time, emotional sensibilities, and physical space — reduced waiting, more visible delivery and pick up times, table availability via restaurant reservations systems, etc.

Confidence – convenience and quickness equal low-stress experiences, along with data security that comes with in-app advanced purchases, secure transactional environments, healthy and clean locations, and more Continuity and relationship — meal plan information in food services contexts that makes account status more visible, loyalty programs, and rewards integrations with restaurant POS engender a sense of relationship and acknowledgement of your guests as valued individuals, implying an invitation to repeat visits and orders in the long-term.

Technology will change as we progress into the decade and beyond. Human needs and responses will remain. The most sustainable approach when thinking about how to invest in technology solutions and platforms therefore is by matching functionality with how efficiently your organisation can deliver these kinds of emotional rewards to your guests.

Creating healthy partnerships with technology experts

It’s clear that even though there are some emotional constants that are attached to the definition of a great guest experience, the means to serve them will change. To adapt, the underlying principle here is about the ability to scale technology to meet today’s expectations while leaving room to anticipate what’s to come.

The best way to do that is to form healthy relationships with technology experts who know the industry, but also know how their solutions meet the expectations of your guests with the future of the industry in mind. There are several technology partnerships options out there to consider, you just need to choose the right one for your organisation.

By Jarrod Kinchington, Infor ANZ Managing Director

This article was first published by Hospitality Business