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OPINIONTechnology

It's time for restaurants to embrace tech

Chuck Fazio

Change is inevitable and must be embraced by individuals and organizations that hope to grow and flourish in the future. It is not always easy to adapt to new circumstances, but it is always necessary. Rapid advances in technology pose both unique challenges and greater opportunities for efficiency and customer connection. 

The digital revolution is transforming the way we live our lives and run our businesses. Guests of all ages increasingly engage with restaurants via mobile devices, and operators work to respond with new apps, pay options and mobile-friendly websites. At the same time, our research indicates that human interaction continues to be the foundation of a positive restaurant experience. Restaurateurs increasingly ask themselves, “How can we use technology to improve our operations and still provide guests with the personal dining experience they expect and deserve?” 

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Restaurants are the backbone of American communities. Adopting new technologies can be a risky proposition for local restaurants, which often find three generations seated at the same table. Age plays a defining role in how consumers accept and use restaurant technology.  Not surprisingly, millennials become more comfortable with new technology faster than their boomer parents. In fact, 54% of millennials have used an electronic menu and ordering station or tablet at a sit-down restaurant in the last year, compared with just 25% of boomers. But technology plays a role in the guest experience even before they walk through the door. About 6 in 10 consumers say they are more likely to choose one restaurant over another based upon whether they can look at menus online or read online reviews before arriving at the restaurant. These statistics have major implications for the future of restaurants, and how we incorporate new technology into our industry.

During the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show, we will host a SuperSession, “The Future of Restaurants,” that will examine the emerging technologies with the greatest potential to disrupt traditional business models, and explain how restaurants can prepare themselves to capitalize on these future opportunities. The session will be led by Daniel Burrus, renowned author and expert on global trends and innovation. 

Restaurants of all sizes have begun to recognize that their success as a business depends upon how well they integrate technology into their daily operations, driven in part by consumers’ demands for a more individually tailored restaurant experience. However, many restaurateurs report that cost remains the most significant barrier to investing in new technology or upgrading their digital infrastructure. Burrus will share innovative concepts and practical alternatives restaurant operators can adopt to better serve their customers, while remaining competitive and profitable.

The restaurant industry is a unique part of the fabric of America and a cornerstone of every community. We have always been committed to designing and developing creative approaches that enhance the dining experience of the guests we feel so privileged to serve.  Today, technology plays an increasingly important role in helping us deliver on that promise.

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