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08/31/2021

Using Technology to Create a 360-Degree Dining Experience

This approach benefits guests, staff and operators.
a person sitting at a table in a restaurant
Traditional paper menus limit opportunities for spend (especially when taken away straight after ordering), whereas digital technology presents an opportunity to leverage guest spending.

The pandemic has had devastating impacts on the hospitality industry — but with summer in full swing, there is renewed hope that restaurants across the country will soon be serving up success. As restaurants slowly return to normal with masking, capacity and distancing restrictions being lifted, now is the time for operators to look at how to turn their pain points into strengths through the considered implementation of technology. 

How can restaurants create a 360-degree dining experience for not only guests but staff members and operators? Those who successfully adapt to change will look at three critical performance metrics.

Table Turns: Guests Are at the Wheel

Table turnover rate is a crucial performance metric for restaurants. Finding the table turnover sweet spot not only saves time for customers and improves their dining experience, but also increases revenue for the restaurant. One of the biggest changes with the rise of guest-facing technologies is that guests are driving a new level of time management all by themselves.

With online shopping and ordering available 24/7, most of us have developed a sense of being in control of our time, and the experience overall. When a customer wants to order a coffee refill or ask for the check and the server is nowhere to be found, customers tend to be even less forgiving than in the past. Now, contactless technology is slowly alleviating these issues. Guests can check the menu on their phone as soon as they are seated, make additional orders without flagging down a server, and pay for the check at their leisure. 

[Contactless Transactions Are Here to Stay]

The right kind of technology will not fully overtake ordering and paying, but will complement it. Used correctly, innovative technology will augment the restaurant flow and improve the speed of certain aspects of the dining experience when necessary (such as paying for the check or ordering additional items), while still preserving meaningful guest/server interactions. This ultimately shaves off a significant amount of table turnaround time, leaving guests feeling satisfied and fully in control of their time.

Tip Sizes: Guests Provide More Value to Staff


[According to a recent report from JobList, hospitality workers are transitioning out of the industry in search of a different work setting (52%), higher pay (45%), better benefits (29%), and more schedule flexibility (19%).]

More than three quarters (76%) of restaurant workers say they are considering leaving the industry due to low wages and tips. This is cause for concern for restaurant operators, but what if there was an easy way to increase tip sizes? When technology is implemented, some restaurants see up to 40% consistently higher tips

Through the use of new technology, the role of the server is transforming into one that is more of a brand ambassador to the restaurant. When functions like ordering and paying are co-piloted by customers, servers can focus less on logistics and more on developing strong customer relationships. This elevates them into a role that is less frenzied, more rewarding and leads to more satisfied guests — who ultimately deliver higher tips. When servers are given the opportunity to earn higher tips and work in a less frantic environment they’re more likely to remain engaged in their roles. This can lead to a reduction in the cost of hiring and retaining staff, saving operators tens of thousands of dollars annually. Restaurants can also collect guest feedback via a brief post-payment survey, and use this information to understand and improve upon their offerings and provide feedback to staff.


Average Check Size: How to Capture the Guest Impulse

After a year away, guests are likely to be ramping up their spending in restaurants, but it’s up to operators to find creative ways to drive impulse. Traditional paper menus limit opportunities for spend (especially when taken away straight after ordering), whereas digital technology presents an opportunity to leverage guest spending. Consider this scenario: a guest is waiting for the dessert menu, but it’s taking too long to arrive, so they decide to skip dessert altogether — a missed opportunity for increased revenue. With digital, always-present menus, not only can guests order on a whim, but upsell items can also be presented (for instance, a specialty cocktail pairing to go along with dessert). Digital menus also provide eye-catching images, offer the ability to filter items for dietary restrictions, and can be updated to reflect seasonal offerings or items that the kitchen wants to push. Customers also have an opportunity to see the loyalty points they can claim when ordering, so they may choose to order more items than usual. This not only increases the check size but also provides a much better guest experience. 

 

Laurent May
Laurent May is Head of Ready.

The 360-Degree Dining Experience

When the noise and pain points in a guest’s dining experience are removed through app-less technology and these three performance metrics are taken into consideration, there is a win for everyone involved. Guests who control their experience are more satisfied and deliver higher tips to servers. More time to deliver exceptional customer service and provide meaningful value to guests means servers are more engaged and happier in their roles. And a consistent real-time feedback loop alongside guest rewards strengthens not only the operational side of the restaurant, but the connection to the guest — creating a true “360-degree dining experience” for everyone.

About the Author

Laurent May is Head of Ready