Dining Out 2020: The Restaurant Experience of the Not So Distant Future
The restaurant industry is evolving. As technology begins to play a larger role in the restaurant space, there is a growing need for restaurants to maximize efficiency and optimize the dining experience for their customers. We have apps that transport us to the restaurant, make a dinner reservation, and deliver our favorite meal to our doorstep from that same restaurant. All of these tech enhancements to the diner experience exist, but they have existed separately, with no communication between them.
Apps, and the advanced technology built into them, are already providing new insights into restaurant operations and creating efficiencies where they didn’t exist before. But, one app cannot make the entire experience seamless. To close that gap, it is crucial that all of the various factors – the restaurant, the customer and the app – are able to communicate. This article from Omnivore explores how in the near future, that gap will be closed via APIs and customer experiences, restaurant operations will improve.
We’ve all been there before – waiting for our table to be cleared or for a takeout order to arrive – just to find out our order is wrong, standing next to a delivery driver who is behind on a pickup, and the hostess is frantically answering the phone to take down more reservations. These types of app surges can lead to kitchen demands so high that backups occur and customer service is impacted. If the kitchen isn’t delivering information to providers on order status, customers, whether at home or at the physical location, are left in the dark and become impatient and frustrated.
Communication is the answer here. By enabling the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system to connect with other pieces of technology, restaurants have a better chance at having control of the diner’s experience while also allowing for more efficient operations both in-restaurant and through delivery. At this point, most operators have access to analytics that allows them to react to issues in hindsight. If they were armed with real-time analytics, operators would be able to engage customers quickly, meeting their needs while they’re still sitting at the table.
To solve this problem, POS systems, restaurant technologies and supplier systems need to connect and communicate, but very few of the systems are designed to integrate with each other smoothly. That’s where the concept of a universal access point – known as an application program interface, or API – comes in. By utilizing a single connection point for all of the technology powering a restaurant’s operation, operators can create a seamless experience across technology platforms.
This seamless communication brings us to the future of dining, including endless and exciting possibilities when all elements of the future dining experience are interconnected.
Consider this experience in the not so distant future: Someone uses their phone to make a dinner reservation at your restaurant on a Friday night. You see all the reservations with a notification that your POS will be limiting the amount of delivery orders coming in, so that you can avoid long ticket times.
The customer arrives at your restaurant with their table linked to the reservation. Your server can see what they ordered previously, and ask if they want the usual avocado rolls or if they’d like to try something new? No guessing here, since your POS can recommend dishes they might like based on what was ordered before.
The kitchen is busy for a weekend but not in chaos, and just the right amount of inventory came in this morning, thanks to your real-time inventory tracking app. Your manager has spent much less time on inventory and scheduling, now spending more time with customers, and it shows in the highlights of your online reviews, delivered to your inbox every day.
Since your customer’s reservation is linked to their table, no one complains about waiting for a server to bring their check. On their phone, they can access their check in real-time and pay whenever they’re ready resulting in faster table turns. Payment triggers the option to order a car to take your customer home safely after a great night out.
The restaurant experience is streamlined and improved with the customer in mind – and for the ease of operations – because of the interconnectivity of communication between systems.
A universal API makes all of this a reality. The ability to build a seamless experience between the customer, restaurant and other third party apps, makes the possibilities limitless.