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Technology at the table ‘feeds restaurant profits’, report finds

Consumers’ use of mobile devices to improve their restaurant experiences has risen sharply in the last quarter and this trend is set to continue, according to the latest GO Technology report from Zonal and CGA.

Ordering takeaways and food deliveries has shown the biggest leap from 12% to 17%, followed by online reservations which have increased by 3% from April to July.

GO Technology, which tracks the technology habits of 5,000 UK adult consumers, also showed the use of technology at the table could be a significant area, with 31% of those surveyed agreeing that more outlets should use apps and tablets to improve service.

According to the research, the monthly spend on eating and drinking out among those using apps is much higher at £99.35, against an all-consumer average of £76.47.

Some 41% of GO Technology respondents cited the ability to pay quicker and avoid waiting to settle bills as the main advantage of apps. A further 34% of respondents mentioned the ability to skip queues as another benefit.

This also translates to orders being taken at the table by servers using tablets or electronic handheld devices, with 41% of respondents saying it enhanced their overall experience. Some 54% believed it made the ordering process quicker and a third thought it made their orders arrive faster. A further 35% also believed it improved accuracy and said they saw less room for error on technology than the traditional handwritten order pad.

However, the findings suggested that technology shouldn’t replace human interaction as of those who didn’t believe it enhanced their experience, 41% thought it impersonal, or that servers with tablets didn’t interact as much as they would like. Some 18% GO Technology respondents said apps had not improved their out of home experience because they didn’t trust them.

Clive Consterdine, sales and marketing director at Zonal, said: “Many people don’t just want to use technology at the tables in restaurants, pubs and bars, they expect it. Hospitality operators can no longer ignore the role technology plays in the eating and drinking out experience.

“Consumers do expect the benefits that mobile technology can deliver in terms of convenience, speed, accuracy and reward. By getting the perfect balance of customer service, interaction and technology in your venue, you can provide a fantastic experience every time.”

Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director, retail and food added: “Educating in the security and accuracy of apps can help to combat this scepticism. Use of apps is on the rise, especially among millennials and parents, who like the way that technology can speed up their experiences, simplify the jobs of researching and booking venues and reward their loyalty.”

“There is similar upward trajectory in restaurants using tablets to take orders, which can create a positive impression among tech-savvy diners and drinkers. Technology can never replace human engagement at the table, but brands that can use it in ways that please consumers are going to have a vital edge in this ultra-competitive market in the months and years ahead.”

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