February 10 2015 – Robert Fiumara
In a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, technology options when dining is quickly becoming the expectation rather than an extra incentive. These options include online menus and the ability to order online but also include technology like tablets at the table so you can easily ask your waitress for re-fills, appetizers, dessert, and the check when you’re ready for it. Technology that also allows you to pay at your table without waiting on your server to bring you a bill is also a big plus in the industry right now. In 2014, a quarter of surveyors said they preferred technology while dining. Now in 2015, that number has nearly doubled.
Recently, smartphone apps that allow a diner to pay their check using their mobile phone have been developed. These apps include Cover, Settle, and Dash and are gaining acceptance with diners and restaurants owners, as increased use of technology may help restaurant owners save in overhead costs. Already popular chain restaurants like Applebee’s and Chili’s have installed mobile devices on every table; which customers can use to pay bills and order extra meal items. But, customers can also purchase pre-loaded games on the device, specifically to keep children at the table occupied. This leads to a happier dining experience and allows customers to stay in the restaurant longer, leading to more sales revenue.
Young customers also have come to expect connectivity when they dine. Accessing wi-fi from their favorite restaurants is very important, as is recognizing a diner’s lifestyle choices in their dining needs. Customers are continually showing interest in ingredients and recipes from local sources and state it as a top reason they’re likely to visit a local restaurant instead of a chain. Further, diners are expecting healthy options and substitutes for their favorite meals that include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. In fact, sixty percent of diners say they’re more likely to visit a restaurant if it includes locally sourced ingredients and options for dietary restrictions. Seven in ten also say they order healthier options now than they did two years ago.
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