Restaurants of the future: Reinventing The Dining Experience

What will the restaurant of the future look like? Online reservation systems, personalized menu, free WiFi: technology is changing the way restaurants serve customers. A restaurant’s brand is no longer only about food, even if food is obviously very important. In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s the digital experience that will leave a lasting impact on customers and help restaurants capitalize on increased consumer interest. Just like how the internet created new opportunities for e-commerce and self-expression, the next market to experience a revolution is the restaurant industry.

In a post by Deloitte, Serving up a great restaurant customer experience, they talk about the emerging elements of the restaurant customer experience that matter the most. Here are 5 considerations you need to keep in mind to create memorable guest experiences:

  • Engage them. Interact with guests in a friendly, authentic way.
  • Empower them. Give guests the ability to customize to my specific needs, value their feedback and respond in an appropriate way.
  • Hear them. Demonstrate awareness of the situation and acknowledge your guests’ unique needs.
  • Delight them. Create moments beyond your guests’ expectations that they will remember and share.
  • Know them. remember your guests’ preferences and anticipate their changing needs.

Pre-restaurant systems: Delivery Apps and Online booking systems

Your restaurant is very likely connected to some sort of delivery tools such as takeway.com, Foodora or Deliveroo. There, your guests choose from a number of restaurants by type of food preference, build an order via smartphone and pay and tip all online.

Or you receive your reservations via a booking platform, where your shift manager simply gets a notification for a new reservation and sets the table accordingly waiting for guests to arrive. All these applications are by themselves impressive, but when a restaurant owner manages to incorporate multiple applications at once, you can truly create the next-generation guests experience that helps to build more revenue in the long-run, and improves chances of survival in the ever so competitive restaurant business.

Anticipate customers’ needs: Social WiFi and Email Marketing

One channel that is underrepresented in the restaurant business is email marketing. Patrons are acquainted with reservation sites and daily deal sites promoting restaurant deals, but what over 40% of guests actually want is to hear from a restaurant once a month or more.

What guests want the interaction to be about:

  • 80%: Discounts and special offers
  • 36%: Menu- related news
  • 34%: Personalized message
  • 21%: General content
  • 12%: Forum to provide feedback

A Deloitte survey (2016) found that 85 percent of responding guests use a restaurant’s official website to gather information on location, menu, and pricing, and use that information to determine where to visit. At the same time, 64 percent say they prefer to receive opt-in emails from a restaurant more than once a month. These two means of outreach—one that relies on the customer to take the initiative, one that pushes a message out—tend to work better together, as part of a plan, then either of them would as a one-off.

For restaurants, this means that using technologies such as automated email marketing brings plenty of opportunities that will lead to more loyal, better guests.

One way to reach those guests – especially in the age of GDPR where personal data is hard to come by, is to offer patrons some benefit that encourages visitors to leave their personal data if they get something in return. Technologies that prove to work are for example offering free WiFi. Make sure to let your guests know that they can (and don’t have to) leave their contact details for your direct marketing and special discounts when they log onto your free WiFi. What we’ve seen in practice and what the Deloitte research further proves is that if your guest likes your place, they actually are looking forward to receiving your special offers and event invitations. It keeps your restaurant top of mind, and the guest gets a few benefits, too. Make sure to use the insights you gathered from your guests to guarantee your offers stay as personal and relevant as possible.

Is your restaurant ready for the future?

Creating the restaurant of the future to serve the next-generation customer might not be such a challenge if the demand weren’t here today. Competition is intense, guests already expect these experiences, and the time is now.

For restaurants that recognize that change is upon them, and take the broad view of the customer experience, this is a tremendous opportunity—to wisely integrate the new digital capabilities people expect with the traditional comfort and value they have associated with restaurant experiences for generations.

This article is based on the article: Restaurants of the Future by Deloitte (2016)  – To understand the digital and customer trends of the future, Deloitte surveyed approximately 4,500 restaurant consumers and conducted interviews with more than twenty restaurant industry executives.

Get in touch to find out how Social WiFi and email marketing automation can be implemented in your restaurant of the future.