It’s easy to point to the rise in technology as the future of the restaurant industry. Just look at how an investment in delivery and digital platforms has benefited companies like Domino’s and Starbucks.
But tech isn’t helping restaurants just because it’s tech. These new platforms are a way to provide better hospitality to customers.
On the retail side, Amazon has excellent hospitality; you can easily put in an order and it arrives quickly. If you have a problem, you are able to talk to a customer service rep within seconds, no matter what time it is.
This is controversial, I know. To many folks in the restaurant industry, hospitality means people working with people. But I’d argue that technology is as much a part of hospitality as the personal touch is.
Here’s what the hospitality of the future is: Good service the way your customers want it.
Hospitality is letting your customers order food from their futons on GrubHub with a few quick swipes on their iPhones. Hospitality is steeping a diner’s tea perfectly before bringing it to the table the way Gramercy Tavern does. Hospitality is storing information in your point-of-sale system so you know when a customer has a nut allergy. It’s asking what type of drink a diner would like and crafting a cocktail to her tastes the way Drink in
Boston does. Or McDonald’s allowing customers to order ahead and pick up Happy Meals three different ways.
The point is that hospitality is variable and depends on the restaurant concept and the diner. And the future is so very bright for foodservice because these new digital tools will give us more options for hospitality.
The future is not replacing good old-fashioned friendly faces offering good food. The future is supplementing that service and developing new dining occasions.
It’s catering to the needs of the Baby Boomers as much as the Gen Zers, and allowing customers to use restaurants more often because it will be more convenient — and there will be more types of restaurant experiences than ever before.
In our Future of Food report, the Nation’s Restaurant News editors identify 20 trends — culinary, tech and consumer — that we see growing. We all know the future is not without its challenges, but we see a hopeful one, with creative ways of reducing food waste and exciting flavors to offer guests.
As for me, I’m looking forward to the continued evolution of hospitality as we know it.
Jenna Telesca, Editor-in-Chief
E-mail: [email protected]