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Technology Before, During and After the Dining Experience: What Diners Really Want

What do diners want from technology? Online restaurant reservations provider OpenTable, part of The Priceline Group, recently released the results of its "Technology and Dining Out" research survey, which provides insight into what diners want from technology before, during and after the dining experience.
"At OpenTable we sit right at the intersection of food and tech, which makes us infinitely curious about what people want from technology when they dine out," said Leela Srinivasan, OpenTable's VP of Restaurant & Product Marketing and author of the new e-Book, Technology and Dining Out 2015.  "Dining out, like virtually every area of life, has been transformed by technology, but in an industry in which hospitality is paramount it's important to strike the right balance for your restaurant concept."
The survey of more than 6,000 diners across the United States concentrated in ten metro areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. The respondents were aged 18 or over and had made at least one reservation on OpenTable in the past 12 months. Insights from the survey include:
Before the Meal:
•The menu matters:  86 percent of diners regularly check out menus online before dining out.
•Everyone's a critic:  25 percent more people are likely to turn to reviews from other diners than from professional critics.
•Tech wish list:  85 percent of diners wish they knew how long the wait for a table would be; 83 percent would love to add their names to a waitlist before arriving.
•Googling guests: Creepy or Cool? 31 percent of respondents think it's creepy for restaurants to Google them before arriving; 64 percent of consumers wish restaurants knew their seating preferences before walking in the door; and, 18 percent want restaurants to know "absolutely nothing" about them.
During the Meal:
•Fine dining versus casual dining etiquette:  63 percent of diners eating out at a fine dining restaurant say they "rarely or never" use their phone during the meal, as compared to 35 percent of diners at a full-service casual restaurant. 
•In-meal technology:  25 percent of diners "always" or "frequently" use their phones during meals to research and decide what to order, and 23 percent take photos to purely remember the experience.
•Mobile payments:  46 percent of diners say they have "never" used a phone to pay at a restaurant but like the idea.
After the Meal:
•Post-meal tech use:  18 percent of diners routinely interact with a restaurant's loyalty program using technology.
•Mobile app download:  Just 6 percent of diners are "very likely" to download the app of an individual restaurant or restaurant group; 31 percent are "very unlikely" and 24 percent are "somewhat unlikely."
The survey also revealed that Americans embrace technology and dining very differently depending on their location, with some cities interacting with and embracing technology more than others.
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