Just over a year since global stay-at-home orders flipped the food and beverage industry on its head, a return to in-person dining could be just around the corner. With many reopenings projected to begin in the spring and summer, consumers are ready to take advantage of warmer weather and venture out to their favorite restaurants for the first time in a long time.
Outdoor dining is expected to be a huge draw for diners looking to enjoy their newfound freedom. And outdoor dining provides restaurateurs with additional seating space perfect for maintaining social distancing regulations. Businesses looking to expand their dining options to include patio seating should be mindful of investing in the right technology for the job.
Research from Oracle’s Dining In and Out in 2021 – US and UK Consumer Trends report highlights which restaurant technology trends customers are hoping to see when they return to in-person dining:
· 40% would like the option to view menus and place orders from a personal device
· 36% would like the option to reserve a table in advance from a personal device
· 33% want contactless payment options from a self-service kiosk or tablet
· 33% would like the option to pay for their meal directly from their personal device
It’s no surprise the restaurant technology trends will continue to be popular with diners even after regulations are lifted. Contactless dining and mobile ordering options give customers the freedom to plan their visit how they like it and allows them to control their dining experience.
But including these accommodations for outdoor and patio dining provides a number of unique challenges for restaurateurs. Many outdoor seating areas aren’t designed to provide infrastructure for multiple fixed workstations and things like Wi-Fi connectivity and unpredictable weather can further complicate things. Oracle offers purpose-built products designed for the wear and tear of outdoor dining. The Simphony point-of-sale system is capable of meeting customer safety expectations, without costing an arm and a leg to setup.
Here’s a look at what an integrated outdoor dining experience might look like with the Oracle MICROS Simphony suite of products.
POS workstations and tablets are the centerpiece of any POS solution. Workstations allow your staff to tie all operational aspects of the restaurant together and control the entire guest experience. These shared workstations are usually housed out of host stations where staff handles everything from taking reservations, to managing tables, and more. Hardware for host stations should be built to withstand weather, heat, spills, drops, heavy use, and everything else the restaurant industry demands.
Oracle MICROS Workstation 3 is purpose-built for outdoor dining environments and can withstand glare from the sun, extreme temperatures, and more. This workstation comes equipped with full-shift batteries, Wi-Fi connectivity, payment capabilities, and durability you need to deliver a flawless outdoor dining experience. While some businesses may have the patio space to dedicate to a full size fixed-workstation, others may prefer the benefits of a small form factor portable device. The multiple mounting choices offered by the Workstation 3 gives staff the option to fix this workstation or place it on a mobile cart to move to accommodate weather or seating options as needed.
Workstations are configured with Simphony's friendly and customizable table management screen – which helps staff improve efficiency and customer service while helping to turn tables and reach revenue goals. It gives servers the ability to set the stage of each dining experience and the amount of time guests have been at each table. Simphony also delivers service alerts to help staff be more attentive to each guest.
Once customers are seated and ready to order, staff can input orders table side and send tickets directly from the tablet to back of house. From there, the KDS will manage all incoming orders and assist staff in timing out the prep and cook time for each table. KDS provide kitchen staff with predefined cook timings to break down each order and help them prioritize preparation tasks. These systems can automatically alert kitchen staff about ticket times that have exceeded your restaurant’s standards.
Once an order is prepared kitchen staff can use either the touchscreen or a bump bar to update orders and bump an order when it is ready. Status boards located in the host station alert staff when an order is ready for the customer. The integrated communication between all of these pieces of hardware not only improves the speed of service, but also greatly reduces mistakes and miscommunication between the front and back of house improving order accuracy and speed of service resulting in improved diner satisfaction
And when it’s time to pay the bill, Simphony mobile POS tablets give staff an easy way to provide customers with contactless payment options. The Oracle MICROS Tablet 700 Series of products includes a bracket to carry your mobile credit card device that is durable, lightweight, and compact enough to fit inside an apron pocket. Customers can choose to have a printed copy of their receipt sent to the receipt printer located at the host station or have a copy of their receipt sent to them electronically.
This new approach to outdoor dining experiences opens up a new world of opportunity for small businesses. Outdoor dining and contactless payments offer an alternative to customers who may be hesitant to return to fully in-person dining right away. It also gives businesses added flexibility when adhering to social distancing guidelines for small businesses.
Unpredictable weather and the natural elements require hardware that can withstand the high-intensity restaurant environment. Fixed workstations and heavily cabled hardware are less than ideal for the tight spaces and fast paced environment of outdoor dining. Traditional POS hardware solutions don’t have the flexibility or durability needed for outdoor dining. Oracle MICROS Simphony is different. Durable, purpose-built equipped with the latest technology can provide customers with a safe, contactless dining experience.
One of the biggest challenges facing restaurateurs looking to make a major investment in modern POS hardware is the reliance on internet connectivity. Many outdoor dining settings aren’t optimized for cloud-based solutions and
spotty internet service can take even the most sophisticated POS system offline with it. Oracle MICROS Simphony solutions offer restaurateurs the best of both worlds – a modern cloud POS solution that can run service even when systems go down.
Oracle MICROS Simphony has been architected around independent services that can be deployed across a number of workstations in the restaurant. When Oracle systems are offline, the CAPS (Check and Posting Service) on MICROS workstations take care of coordination of local check sharing and services at the property level. Once the connection is restored to the cloud, CAPS will synchronize all local activity with the cloud database. This means all business-critical services such as printing, payment service, KDS service and more have been designed to be able to run offline without connection to the cloud.
Simphony is built on a secure and open API running on Microsoft Windows or Oracle Linux and offers businesses new ways to drive innovation and growth. The open API architecture allows businesses to manage everything from online reservations, mobile ordering, pay at the table, and more from a single robust and reliable platform.
New APIs are set to be released throughout 2021 and will include a real-time business intelligence API. The business intelligence API will leverage the Oracle cloud infrastructure to extend analytics to real-time and connect to broader Oracle solutions, with access to more than 40 subject areas. This will continue to open up new opportunities to operationalize data that can be used to make better decisions as the industry continues to change over the next year.
Navigating the new normal is hard enough – Oracle makes restaurant technology easy. Download the complete Dining In and Out in 2021 – US and UK Consumer Trends report to get the full picture of how loyalties shifted and changed for independents and chains, which age demographics are more likely to bounce back to “normal” frequency rates, and more. Or speak directly with an Oracle product expert about how Simphony can expand your business into outdoor dining and beyond. Our experts are standing by to help you learn more about how Oracle can help tune your options for optimal performance.