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The Menu – the latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices.

Four Emerging Technologies Changing the Restaurant Guest Experience

Sebastian Gianni
Product Strategy Manager

If you think about it for a moment, you realize your guests are a demanding bunch.

They love menu recommendations, carefully considering their likes and dislikes. They want their dishes perfectly described so they know exactly what they’ll be getting. They’ll need to know about any dietary restrictions or allergies. And when they’re done dining, they’ll want their check immediately – and not a second later.

Meeting – better yet, anticipating – all their wants and needs would be a difficult task, even for a devoted spouse. And the challenge becomes infinitely more complex, because as a restaurateur you need to provide such personalized attention for every one of your countless guests.

Without the help of technology, it’s downright impossible.

That’s why it’s essential for restaurant operators to stay abreast of emerging restaurant technologies and adopt innovations that can scale individuality on demand. Possessing that capability is a “must have” in today’s marketplace where the definition of exceptional guest service can change virtually every day.

The following restaurant technologies continue to gain momentum in our business because they make guests feel unique and deliver better service – whether it’s faster or customized or both. If you haven’t already, it’s time to give them serious consideration:

Artificial Intelligence for Restaurants

A Forbes article quotes Scott Boatwright, chief restaurant officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill, speaking at this year’s Restaurant Leadership Conference: “The ground is shifting under our feet, and holding on to the past way we’ve run restaurants isn’t the way we are going to do business going forward.” His comment rings true, especially when discussing the potential of AI. Its ability to “learn” consumers’ behaviors and preferences could transform how restaurants assist their guests. For example, some companies are using Facebook bots to help customers order food. According to Forbes, “If a customer tells the bot, for example, that they are lactose intolerant, it will curate a customized menu just for them, without a dairy item in sight. That’s a serious game-changer for user experience, and it requires no extra work or time for the restaurant employee.”

Digital Restaurant Menus

Whether they’re showcased on menu boards, touch-screen tables or tablets, digital menu management offers countless benefits to help drive sales. Most importantly, they can constantly be changed – highlighting specials, discounted prices, suggested pairings and other options – to adapt to marketplace demands or lack thereof. Paired with restaurant POS reporting and analytics solutions, digital menus provide operators with invaluable insights about their menu performance – identifying best sellers as well as underperformers.

Self-Service Kiosks

Kiosks are interactive stations that are a perfect match for today’s on-the-go consumer, especially influential millennials, who love to buy on demand without waiting, without headaches and without hassles. For operators, the benefits are many: Greater check average. More transactions. Lower labor costs. Increased revenue. Some of the biggest restaurant chains, such as McDonald’s, are investing heavily in kiosks. McDonald’s has stated it plans to equip all of its more than 14,000 domestic locations with kiosks by 2020. The company said its upgraded restaurants are generating sales gains of 4 to 8 percent, and the kiosks are contributing to higher average customer spending.

But what’s really driving McDonald’s investment in kiosks is the potential to personalize the way it does business. Soon, the company expects kiosks will be able to “recognize” a personal profile from a customer’s mobile app and different orders depending on time of day.

Augmented Restaurant Reality

Augmented reality technology is causing quite a buzz in the restaurant world because it delivers a visual experience like none other: It provides guests with a live, 3D image of menu items – as if the meal was actually placed before them. According to the Forbes article, “This allows for less back and forth between the customer and server and minimizes miscommunication that results in food being sent back to the kitchen. In other words, less food waste and faster turnover.”

While some of these technologies are further along than others, they are all bound to make an impact on how restaurants operate and how they engage guests. Stay on the cutting edge and be ready for tomorrow.

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