Technology Gives Restaurant Patrons an Advantage
Consumers in just about every sector crave convenience—something their smartphones have given them for more than a decade. So, it’s advantageous for restaurants to provide conveniences to customers through advancing infrastructure and technology tools, but a number of third parties are giving restaurant patrons themselves the edge when it comes to their dining experience.
Augmented Reality Technology
Google, ever the great gatherer of data, has added a new augmented reality ability to their Google Lens smartphone app. Your patrons can point their phones at your menu, find popular dishes, read reviews, and even get help at the end of the evening calculating tips and splitting the tab.
This technology is a helpful resource for your customers, but it’s important to note that you didn’t provide it to them, and you have little say in the interaction. What can you do? Remember that as you build a loyal following of happy customers, it’s also important that they talk about you online to their friends and in reviews. It’s also important to interact with your online reviews—and respond respectfully and helpfully to less-than-stellar reviews. Google Lens will highlight social buzz about your business—and your food—so it’s important to know what information is out there.
How would you rate your restaurant in terms of sustainability, reducing single-use plastics, and reducing food waste? Well, Yelp is now letting customers do the rating for, or rather about, you. Restaurant reviews on Yelp, as part of their new Green Practices Initiative, will now gather data about the use of plastics, compostable containers, and incentives for customers bringing their own beverage containers. It’s unclear when the data will go live to the public, but the information is already being gathered. What can you do? Assess how you measure up, and address where you fall short of consumer demand, because it already matters, and is about to matter a lot more.
Third party delivery services have not only created a whole new level of convenience for consumers but expanded a segment of business for restaurants that used to be much more prohibitive. In-house delivery staff and resources aren’t an option for many local establishments, but partnerships make it possible to reach a growing segment of off-site patrons. But how many of these services are out there? If you can only name two, three, or four, you may be surprised to know that the number of smaller services is growing—and they’re making enough of an impact on the industry that the big players are feeling it.
If you’re making use of third-party delivery, it’s worth your time to keep up with the available options in case you see the need to pivot and partner with a different service. If you’re just starting to investigate the possibility of adding delivery through a third party, you will want to take a look at the industry stats noting how much of the current restaurant dining revenue is off-premise (it’s huge… and growing), and be sure to investigate partner options, big and small.
Technology, and its adoption, will happen with or without a restaurant’s participation. Patrons definitely appreciate the convenience of technology implemented at their favorite establishments, but as a restauranteur you have very little control over the other tools and resources your patrons may be exposed to and make use of. That can be scary, but what customers pay you for is great food and a great experience. Then you can enhance that by staying aware of what’s happening “out there” on the internet, on their smartphones, and as guests check their notifications and open apps to support their dining experience while they sit at your tables.
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