This week the news that a vaccine for COVID-19 could be on the horizon resulted in soaring stock markets and millions of excited consumers and business owners across the globe. For months the world has been on pause, but now, seemingly, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The world is looking to the future with excited anticipation.
For the hospitality industry, and many others, the pandemic has forced forward emerging market trends and ushered in a new era for innovation. Here we look to the future and ask what it holds for hospitality technology.
Blurring of dining boundaries
Even before COVID-19, there was increasing demand by consumers for off-premise eating. The UK’s food delivery market was valued at £8.5 billion in 2019, up from £8.1 billion in 2018, while KPMG found consumers in the country spent an average £8.67 per week on takeaway food.
There’s little to doubt that the emergence of online food delivery brands, Deliveroo and UberEats raised the profile of food delivery technology, but many brands found the associated costs and block on data ownership a barrier to adoption. COVID shone a light on brand-owned ordering technologies, and it is these that will help reshape the premise of many restaurants in years to come. Customers are becoming accustomed to turning to their mobile to order their food; they have been pleased to find the options available exceed the traditional takeaway fare of curry or pizza. Beyond COVID, technology will see people increasingly ordering high-quality restaurant meals, and enjoying them from the comfort of their own home, or chosen location. There will also be advances and enhancements to existing delivery systems to capitalise on the demand for alternative customer journeys, faster, more convenient and hygienic practices.
The technologies adopted by companies in the last nine months have served to keep them afloat, facilitating ordering, reservations, loyalty and a raft of other services. However, the nature of the pandemic and the speed at which changes have been brought in means that optimising the solutions and, importantly, integrating them has often been left by the wayside. Beyond this year it will be an operational imperative to review technology ecosystems to ensure a seamless integration across all digital channels.
Furthermore, well planned integrations mean brands can choose to work with a range of providers, each tailored to meet a bespoke need, rather than one generalist ‘jack of all’ vendor, without that flexibility and expertise. They also allow the business to collect data from multiple sources, tying it together to form invaluable customer and operational information.
A heightened concern for hygiene will remain beyond COVID and will be visible, not just in human practices but in the future of restaurant technology as well. The trend for touchless and hygienic technologies has been present for a number of years, but it will now accelerate as business owners look for ways to eliminate any element of the experience that could create a risk for either guests or staff.
The most obvious application is contactless payments, but it will be seen everywhere, from contactless vending machines, allowing the customer to order and pay from their phones, to air purification systems in restaurants, disinfecting air as it circulates around the room. Touchless management, ordering and payment platforms that eliminate the problem of germs spreading via high-touch surfaces will push out traditional solutions. They will be furthered by the support of smart access systems including QR code scanners, biometric and facial recognition.
Even at the back-of-house, operations will be enhanced as brands invest in automation softwares and management technologies that protect staff by eliminating touch points in their internal operations.
Contact Theravada to discuss the future of restaurant technology and how we can help you brand adapt and adopt to a post-pandemic world.