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National Restaurant Association - Lap up technology to stay relevant with customers

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Lap up technology to stay relevant with customers

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and knowledge for the National Restaurant Association, explains why integration of restaurant technology can help brands stay relevant and improve the customer experience. Riehle shared his thoughts during the Restaurant Innovation Summit in Atlanta.

Why is keeping up with technology so important?
Restaurant industry growth remains positive, but growth rates have moderated compared to 10 and 20 years ago. From the operator’s perspective, the rapid integration of technology into the traditional restaurant experience can actually help generate additional demand for restaurants.

Why is this innovation summit valuable to operators?
There are almost 1 million restaurants around the country now. In thinking about the competitive state of the industry, it’s important the operator gets an edge on the competition by knowing what the important trends are not just now, but more important,  what they’re going to be three or five years from now. That way, they can get into alignment with those trends. Going forward, the challenge for restaurant operators is how they’ll maintain that high touch with customers in a high-tech environment.

What’s the big takeaway for operators regarding technology?
New research we’ve done defines the expectation ‑ particularly of young consumers ‑ about the availability and use of technology in a typical restaurant experience. Technology in and of itself isn’t a ticket to success in the industry, but it can be the hook that creates loyalty though a lot of rapidly evolving technology-based loyalty systems and brings in new customers.

Where is restaurant technology headed?
Overall, there will be more rapid integration of technology into the restaurant experience. What this means is that technology will help facilitate consumer decisions. Once the consumer makes the decision to patronize a particular establishment, how they order and pay will consist of a whole host of technology components. Wherever technology can be integrated, this will be a win-win situation for the consumer and the operator.

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