How Guest-Facing Tech is Driving Restaurant Biz

Digital menu boards have proven their value in both QSR and fast casual segments – restaurant guests tend to like them because they are easy to read, can provide better and more up-to-date information, and can change on the fly. Restaurant managers like them for similar reasons, but also because they reduce the cost of printing menus and allow for real-time inventory management and updates to daily specials. 
With tabletop technology becoming more sought after, guests are given the ability to view menu items and order at the click of a button. Full service restaurants can now reap similar operational benefits in that of digital menu boards, leverage new opportunities for promotions and merchandising, and expand their loyal customer base. Tanjarine discusses the benefits of a few next-generation technologies and offers tips for deciding what’s right for your restaurant.
When researching or considering new technology in a restaurant, it’s best to understand what and how often promotions are managed, and how frequently and easily content can be changed. Many of the tabletop ordering tablets in the market support upselling and cross-selling menu items. The restaurants that have adopted these technologies report that guests order more when using tablets which results in a higher check average. In addition, they’re finding that:
guests order immediately when the impulse hits rather than having to wait for a server, guests tend to be more clear on menu selections when ordering, and
images of menu items on the tablet act as constant reminders of specials or opportunities to upsell items one may not necessarily order otherwise.
Second Screens
Multiple television sets strategically placed around restaurants are also gaining popularity. These “second screens” allow restaurant owners and managers to control content on one or more TVs displayed in their restaurant, and offer the opportunity for time-of-day based promotions (Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m.), guest interactions (Happy Birthday to Dawn!) and just-in-time specials.  The caveat is that a designated staff member needs to have the skills and capacity to build and execute content on these screens.  
The latest generation of restaurant tablets interacts with and mirrors the content of their associated second screens running in a restaurant, for a fully integrated experience with maximum messaging impact. Disseminating promotional messages between tablets and second screen TVs can vastly improve a restaurant’s ability to market to their guests. When considering implementing second screens, staff needs to consider how they would build and manage content for both the tablets and second screens, and how these technologies fit into the overall guest experience.  Aside from menu ordering and promotional opportunities, the combination of the tablets with second screens allows restaurant guests the ability to engage and create their own dining experience like never before by playing interactive sports games and trivia, as well as arcade and console quality games.
More than 65% of Americans are smartphone users, and nearly 60% of these users check their apps or messages every few minutes. With statistics like this, it is clear that restaurant guests are more than accustomed to using new technology. Whether it is building a proprietary app to integrate loyalty programs or seeking other solutions specific to a restaurant’s location, investigating the potential to communicate directly to guests is key for success. Listening to what they want and engaging them in the process will make for better results. Guests want to feel special and valued, so when they and their order history are recognized, it makes them want to repeat their experience. This is just one more way to show how much they are valued and the impact they have on the business.
Standalone kiosks may be a valuable solution for a QSR during peak hours. Kiosks can offer the same benefits as tabletop tablets, allowing guests to order and pay when they want. They also present opportunities to promote or upsell new items by featuring food or drink photos, nutritional information, and other details that guests may be interested in. This type of solution takes up valuable space and may require a shift in kitchen operations, but it can show lift in pre-orders or restaurants with long lines.
Guest-facing technology can drastically improve guests’ dining experiences, while increasing a restaurant owner’s bottom line. Interactive games coupled with time-of-day promotions can lead to longer guest visits, more orders and higher check averages. Servers also have the ability to engage on a deeper level with their guests, as these new technologies can make for a more streamlined process.
At the end of the day, new technology must fit the business model of the restaurant and needs of their clientele in order to be a success. If executed properly, integrating new guest-facing technology should be a win-win for everyone.
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