September 2023 announced a new Trusted Partnership between EMenu Now and Hospitality Titans. Joining forces, we have collaborated on a topic of interest that is important to our industry and one that we will look forward to seeing unfold in the very near future!
The Future of Dining: A Conversation With EMenu Now & Hospitality Titans
In recent years, the world of dining has been undergoing a transformative evolution, driven in large part by advancements in technology. As restaurants and hospitality establishments adapt to changing consumer preferences and expectations, it is essential to gain insights from industry leaders and innovators. To explore the exciting future of dining, we had the privilege of conducting interviews and gathering insights from renowned figures in the hospitality industry thanks to Hospitality Titans.
How has customer demand changed?
Before delving into the future, it is important to understand the current state of the hospitality industry. With the rise of the digital age, consumers have grown increasingly tech-savvy and expect seamless, personalised experiences.
In a recent study where insights from more than five thousand adults in the UK were collected, respondents emphasised speed, convenience, ease of use, reduced pressure, and accuracy as the primary benefits of technology.
In fact, if we were to look at the hotel industry, consumers spending on accommodation was predicted to grow from $5.6 trillion in 2018 to $7 trillion in 2025. We can therefore confirm that the guests of the present and future generations will be expecting more than just travel size shampoos and pillow mints. Consumer’s today rely on commodities like fast Wi-Fi for their work- especially with the rise in remote working since Covid. Not to mention, they are more interested in personalised services that can be customised to their every whim- consumers are intrigued by “the experience” that is encompassed by technology.
How can we match these demands?
“The hospitality industry is on the cusp of a new chapter. Guests are seeking richer individual relationships and seamless experiences with their hospitality providers and are willing to share more data and insights than ever before.”- Chris K Anderson, Director of Centre for Hospitality Research, Cornell University.
A successful hospitality service functions on predicting a consumer’s need before they realise they need it, this would be impossible due to ever changing demands without the help of technology. Through data and analytics, venues can gain insights into their guest’s preferences, allowing them to offer a more tailored experience and competitive edge.
However, what else has changed? More and more hotels are using online check-in and check-out, along with mobile apps that enable control over room settings and amenities. Restaurants have turned to technology for ways to improve their efficiency in FOH and in the kitchen. With customers expecting speedy and personalised services, tech like QR Code ordering, EPOS systems, kitchen display and stock control software all play a vital role in matching their demands.
What do hospitality companies seek when investing in technology?
Introducing technological elements and advancements to any business model must be conducted in the right place at the right time. With seamless journeys for customers and providing a memorable experience, it is imperative to drive company growth, whilst also maintaining your current customer base.
The term technology touches all bases for any business, and within hospitality, there have certainly been a lot of beneficial elements to it. Designed to meet a human need or solve a human problem, technology opens opportunities for businesses, but can also produce threats too.
Businesses often seek systems that will enhance guest-experience, through personalisation allowing businesses to tailor services to their customers. Most of all, communication; the fundamental element to businesses progressing and maintaining loyalty.
The list of technology advancements within hospitality is endless, but what do we think the future of this may be for dining and what array of challenges may face these? We contacted our members from Hospitality Titans to see what they thought of this important topic:
Whilst technology is well-integrated to the operations of many, if not all businesses, Cris from FEASTED says “I have no doubt there will be huge tech developments in hospitality, but I look to focus on people and human connection. The very essence of hospitality. We would love to add pre-dining engagement to what we do. I feel technology could really deliver on this. We want our guests to feel that they have had a truly unforgettable journey to our table and also had a post-meal experience that has kept them engaged and keen to come back”.
Tech in business has operational benefits to reduce manual labour and fulfil efficiency, however this can then pose a risk to employees and their jobs. Cris also hopes “that it does not ruin the human element. Automated service lacks connection, but if tech can enhance human engagement, then it is a good thing. We love to create exciting experiences and would not rule out digital engagement to enhance a dining experience.” It is important to find the balance and harmony between real-life interaction and a technological helping-hand.
The use of Artificial Intelligence cannot go unnoticed as we progressively move further into the future. AI has remained at the forefront and most recent technological advancements that more and more companies are integrating into their businesses. Andy from Andy Newman Ltd. agrees that with tech developments we may see AI robots and new marketing change the dining landscape. “Due to the needs and demands of the customer” Andy believes that hospitality brands will in fact have to offer more immersive and engaging experiences to their customers.
In turn, the negatives of integrating further technological advancements poses the question on how far can this technology go? “Fraud and loss of personal touch” could see a decrease in footfall when it comes to dining. In turn Andy states that customers will not “stand for low standards and that as a business you must adapt to survive”. A shared value across the entire hospitality industry, the future of dining remains an open discussion, whilst future-proofing any business is crucial, technology will always remain an integral part of remaining relevant and on-top of the game.
In conclusion, the hospitality industry is currently in the midst of a technological revolution, driven by advancements such as AI-powered guest engagement and smarter EPOS systems. These innovations are reshaping the dining experience and helping restaurants meet the changing demands of customers.
Balancing automation and the human touch is crucial as we navigate this tech-driven future. While challenges like fraud and job displacement may arise, adaptability and a focus on customer-centricity remain essential.
In this ever-evolving dining landscape, technology is the key to staying competitive and delivering unforgettable experiences. Whether it’s through efficient online ordering platforms or seamless mobile payments, embracing technology is essential for success in the modern hospitality industry.
A few words from EMenu Now’s Founder…
“70% + of the UK population are introverted and this trend is growing. These guests value technology-led dining experiences and convenience and will switch brands if their needs are unmet. Staff shortages have increased the importance of technology in enhancing guest experiences. Just one terrible experience can significantly damage a brand, and introverted customers are more likely to voice complaints online vs within a venue which poses a huge risk. To thrive, the best restaurants will use technology, including AI, to maximise the probability of guests having a pleasant experience and improve the work-life balance for staff to drive retention. Technology will enable staff to work more reasonable hours and feel less drained after work with service automation, especially after-hours. Guests will have more choices on how they want to engage with hospitality businesses and technology will personalise every experience at every possible touchpoint. Technologies we are currently working with which will drive the future of dining include robot support staff, AI-driven menu personalisation, AI guest engagement and sentiment analysis, mobile EPOS and digital ordering and payments. These all move the needle towards giving the 70% what they want whilst boosting profitability.” – Joel Satchi, Founder of EMenu Now
IHG et al. Drivers of change in hospitality – IHG research centre – newsroom, IHG Hotel and Resort. Available here
Zonal and CGA by NielsenIQ (2023) Zonal GO Technology Report. rep. Zonal and CGA by NielsenIQ. Available here