Emerging technology is expected to significantly affect the way restaurants interact with customers, and change is coming sooner than many operators expect.
“Consumers have high expectations for the restaurant industry,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, research and knowledge, National Restaurant Association. “The challenge for operators will be how to remain high-touch in a high-tech environment.”
Riehle will share NRA research that sheds light on challenges and opportunities related to that technology at a new conference this fall. The Restaurant Innovation Summit, set for Oct. 23 and 24 in Denver, will explore emerging technology and the customer experience.
The Restaurant Innovation Summit aims to get operators up to speed on that new technology, as well as work within their organizations to vet and implement what is right for their businesses. The sessions are designed to appeal to leaders from various departments: marketing, information technology, treasury/finance and operations.
Riehle’s presentation will cover NRA research related to consumer integration, consumer demand for convenience, social media use and more. The figures stem from the new NRA report, “Restaurant Industry 2020: A Snapshot of the Future,” and other NRA analysis.
The 2020 report finds that mobile and electronic pay-at-table options will become commonplace, although many restaurant operators don’t consider themselves tech-savvy. Online and mobile ordering also are expected to become more widespread.
“Restaurateurs will be looking for efficient and effective ways to satisfy guest demand to conviently order and pay for their food,” Riehle said. “At the same time, they will need to retain a personal touch to stand out from competitors and maintain loyalty.”
Other speakers will build on insight from Riehle’s research throughout the conference. For example, Riehle will share research that shows operators expect point-of-sale systems to become increasingly sophisticated. A separate session will show how those systems can help operators collect data that allows them to enhance the customer experience. Another session will cover mobile payment.