With the number of restaurants across the US falling by around one percent , dining industry professionals need to know how to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging sector. Below, we consider the main problems facing the dining industry and the ways in which technology will transform the industry from 2020 onward.

Problems facing the dining industry

Most problems facing the dining industry in 2019 stemmed from the same key issue: the typical restaurant guest has higher expectations than ever before. Guests want more from their restaurants, and they want it now.

Research shows that guests want everything immediately, whether it’s their food, access to nutritional information, or their bill. And it’s on restaurants to rise up to the challenge of catering to the 21st Century diner.

How technology will revolutionize the dining industry in 2020

Dining industry trends across casual dining or quick service restaurants (QSRs) point towards a greater adoption of technology across the field. As we’ll see, there’s a real shift towards convenience and automation, which will transform the dining industry for everyone.

The right answer, whenever the customer wants it

From the calories in their salad to the allergen list, the average diner wants to know everything there is to know about their food, often before they even step inside the restaurant. Utilizing technology to provide downloadable nutritional and allergy menus ensures that customers get accurate, comprehensive advice whenever they need it.

Furthermore, automating nutritional advice removes the risk of diners receiving contradictory information from restaurant staff who may not know the right answer.

Pay-at-table apps are on the rise

Reports show that around 67 percent of diners hate waiting around for the bill once their meal is over. That’s where pay-at-table smartphone apps come in. These apps, which are easily downloaded onto any smartphone, let guests sign in, leave a tip, and pay for their meal in seconds. Pay-at-table apps are so efficient that they save guests an average of 12 minutes per restaurant visit.

Chat bot technology

Pay-at-table apps and chat bot technology go hand-in-hand. With a chat bot, guests can quickly book their table without waiting to speak to a member of staff. Many of these chat bots are sophisticated enough to answer basic questions or direct guests to where they can find more information.

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Technology and brand loyalty

With so many restaurant chains out there, brands must stand out to bring in new customers and retain existing customer loyalty. Technology helps restaurants achieve this by improving the overall diner experience. Evidence shows that integrating technology into your restaurant really works; for example, a large percentage of people who place an online order are repeat customers.

Technology and marketing

An oft-overlooked way that technology is transforming the dining industry is the impact of online reviews and marketing on building consumer trust. The average consumer doesn’t just take a chance on a new restaurant–chances are they’ve already read through online reviews and recommendations before setting foot inside the door.

Here’s what the evidence says. A Harvard Business School researcher found that just a one-star increase in a Yelp rating generated an increase in revenue, and a whopping 80 percent of consumers surveyed in another questionnaire claimed they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

The impact of technology on the dining industry isn’t just about automation, smart payment options, or chat bots. It runs through the entire customer experience.

In summary

Whether you’re running a niche cafe or a QSR, it’s clear that the dining industry is facing more challenges than ever before. The good news is that, finally, we’re finding new ways to harness technology to improve the dining experience and grow brand loyalty. This trend is set to continue well into 2020 and beyond.

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