The National Restaurant Association hosted its first Restaurant Innovation Summit last week, bringing together restaurant and food service professionals to discuss customer engagement using emerging technology.
The summit featured sessions by leaders from Google, Square, MOPro, Wendy’s, Bloomin’ Brands and Dunkin’ Brands that focused on the use of mobile technology, maximizing customer interaction and leveraging big data.
“Consumers crave technology and we are beginning to see the need for technological expansion in our industry now more than ever,” John C. Metz, Jr., the chairman of the NRA board’s profitability and entrepreneurship committee, said. “The summit is designed to provide restaurant operators in all segments and company sizes innovative new ways of engaging guests through emerging technology while keeping up with consumer demands.”
The NRA released research at the summit that showed a majority of Americans have used touch-screen ordering, smartphone apps and mobile payment when dining out, and even more are interested in utilizing tech-based options if provided by restaurants.
“Technology can add convenience and efficiency to the customer experience, as well as provide productivity benefits to restaurant operators,” Hudson Riehle, the senior vice president of research and knowledge at the NRA, said. “Following wider societal technology trends, we’re seeing that younger consumers are much more likely to interact with restaurants on their smartphones than older adults. However… a substantial number of older consumers… say they would use smartphone apps for certain things, like looking up directions and finding nutrition information.”
Most respondents in the NRA survey said they would most like to see restaurants add technology options in loyalty programs and ordering, as well as reservations, entertainment and payment.