Restaurants are an important part of social life in the city, where stressed “cityzens” frequently choose an outing instead of cooking at home. Having Wi-Fi in the restaurant and social media “likes” are just as important as the menu for attracting visitors. So, what is essential for owners to consider as they take their concepts toward into a networked environment?
Many restaurant visits are decided at the last minute – usually as you are walking past a place that looks interesting. You know the neighborhood where you live, but you might be open to suggestions for places that are close to where you are. It is therefore central for restaurants to expand their attraction power beyond what we see physically to what we can see on our screens.
In many cases we know where to go, we just need to book a table. We might have difficulties in selecting an exact time in advance. We are also reluctant to take the 30-40 minute wait upon arrival. In this respect, it would be preferable to be able to secure a table on short notice by making the booking through a mobile app and then enjoying an aperitif elsewhere.
As the lifetime of menus becomes shorter and shorter, restaurants are keen on promoting their chosen ingredients in an effort to assist guests in the decision-making process. And with the trend at restaurants moving towards ‘Menu of the Day’ the next innovation will be to exploit tablet menus in close collaboration with what is going on in the kitchen during preparation.
Credit cards have been basic currency in restaurants for a long time. But mobile payments are moving in and opening up the doors for follow-up promotions for your next visit. Being able to monitor payments, owners can track how their online marketing is paying off. The current restaurant infrastructure for Wi-Fi and payment systems can be outsourced, and owners can focus on their new dining experience.
My predictions for the future of networked restaurants are as follows:
– Multiple restaurant processes (marketing, booking, menus and payments) can be re-engineered for a better dining experience.
– Wi-Fi for visitors is just one step toward the networked restaurant, where the following steps are more mission-critical and tied to the restaurants’ own operational processes.
– Restaurants will require highly reliable networks to realize their potential beyond what a typical restaurant Wi-Fi network delivers.