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The Future of Technology In Restaurants: Are Your Servers Ready?

Technology today pervades every aspect of our lives, and technology in restaurants is no exception. From finding a restaurant and booking a reservation to in-service expectations and post-service sharing, diners today use technology more than ever before.

At SevenRooms, we recently teamed with YouGov to poll 1,108 diners aged 18+ about their preferences when it comes to technology. The results have far reaching impacts, from what restaurant technology trends you should be thinking about to how your servers should interact with guests.

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How To Make Guests Feel Like Your Home Is Their Home

When we surveyed diners, we learned that they tend to be happiest when they feel:

  • Personalization
  • Familiarity
  • Simplicity

Pro Tip: Think of a simple action like saving a guest picture in a client profile within your reservation management platform. You can use this to recognize repeat guests and greet them by their first name to make them feel at home. If your reservation system doesn’t offer this, print out pictures of regulars and make a yearbook style cheat sheet that your servers and front of house staff can get familiar with.

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Restaurants have been tracking guest preferences for ages. A lot of times that information lives in a maître d's mind–or in a spreadsheet. These important pieces of information help waitstaff tailor their service. But paper and pen (or memory!) is not usually a reliable way to manage this.

Today, most cloud-based reservation management systems offer tagging systems to document preferences and context for each guest — in a way that’s easy for your maître d's mind, hostesses, and servers to access and see during service.

Guests Like Technology In Restaurants, But To A Degree

This probably won’t surprise you about Millennials:

  • They’re 4x more likely to use a virtual/augmented reality device to research a restaurant.
  • They’re 3x more likely to place reservations through social media marketing channels.
  • They’re 3x more likely to want cardless payment options at a restaurant.

But there are also hesitations that might surprise you:

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Takeaway: While diners’ preferences are evolving, they still appreciate the personalized service of a human touch, and continue to be satisfied with confirmation emails and online booking. No need to invest in robots just yet.

That said, restaurants should post reservation-booking links on their social media channels to make it easy for guests to book directly with them.

Here’s why: 26% of survey respondents (across all ages) book dining out through social media.

Human Interaction Conquers All — Even the Best Technology

The most well-adopted restaurant technology complements the human touch instead of replacing it. It enhances the guest experience with better service, and because of its restaurants see revenue go up and customers coming back.

The core essence of hospitality means connecting meaningfully with your guests.

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Here’s what our survey respondents told us to drive that point home:

  • Over half (51%) of Americans want their waiter to remember them from a previous visit
  • One in four (25%) Americans want the ability to request the same waiter or waitress who already knows their food, drink and table preferences

What to do about it: Ask your reservation technology provider about the ability to save server history on your guest profiles. You should also be able to flag whether a diner is a repeat guest — and what category of repeat diner they are, because a second-time visitor is different than a 20 time visitor. Some platforms have guest tags that add this information automatically.

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Technology which records and stores information on diners habits is an invaluable tool. Make it easy for staff to remember guests by leveraging this data to cater to preferences, understand their spend and visit history, and, overall, provide an experience they’re sure to remember.

It probably won’t surprise you but the report was clear, some of the very best technology for restaurants is never even seen or touched by diners, but rather runs in the background to help servers and staff do their jobs better.

Striking a Balance

At the end of the day, technology in restaurants is neither inherently good nor bad, its as useful as the people who use it are skilled. Whatever your technology solution, be sure to understand your needs–why are you using this specific tool in the first place?

Knowing that, you will be driven with purpose to learn and master whatever technology you choose to implement in your restaurant. Learning new restaurant technology properly, rogiht out of the gate, will make your life–and buisness–a lot easier. And easier is better, especially since technology used in restaurants is not going away and if you don't use it, you're competition will!

Elise Musumano

Elise Musumano

Elise is the Senior Manager, Product Marketing at SevenRooms, the leading reservation, seating, and guest management solution and an avid fitness enthusiast and marathon runner.

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