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From driving ranges with games using micro-chipped balls to virtual reality arcades, technology is helping businesses create unforgettable experiences for patrons. Now it’s easier than ever for restaurants to engage with guests and stand above the rest with interactive restaurant technology.
Installing the right technology at the right time in your restaurant creates a unique dining experience and reduces the impact on staff. And the critics agree – according to Toast’s 2017 Restaurant Technology Industry Report, 73 percent of restaurant-goers and 95 percent of restaurateurs think technology improves their dining experience.
An experienced commercial audio/visual contractor can help you choose options that are both guest and staff friendly before construction even begins. That means the technologies are designed to fit your building – no construction backtracking, questionable wiring or extra venue staff time needed. Just simple-to-use, intuitive technology to go with your delicious food.
4 ways to improve the dining experience with technology
So, how can technology impact the guest dining experience without creating headaches for your staff? Here are a few ideas for restaurants to consider:
1. From-the-table ordering.
Technology at the table puts diners in charge of their dining experience. Guests can browse the menu, create customized orders and pay for their meal with a touch-panel tablet or an app on their phone.
One popular Nashville restaurant offers the chance for guests to come up with their own blends of whiskey and beverage combinations. While guests are busy making choices, restaurant staff is focused on back-of-house operations – which means shorter wait times and improved customer service. And restaurants benefit too – the screens suggest upsells and encourage diners to order more.
2. Different environments under one roof.
Technology can create two distinct environments within the same restaurant. For example, in one Nashville restaurant, I helped them design varying lighting and playlist options to convey a classic restaurant feel on the top floor, while the lower level gives off a speakeasy, lounge vibe.
Lighting and music can also be programmed to automatically adjust throughout the day to easily change the ambiance of the restaurant. This allows restaurants to create an upbeat setting for happy hour, a calm setting for dinner, and a vibrant setting for the end of the night.
With these simple, automatic controls, staff can stay focused on customer service instead of setting the mood. This allows decisions about lighting and music to be made at the management level and alleviates the issue of someone forgetting to change the playlist.
3. Plug and play stage.
Restaurants that double as a music and entertainment venue are on the rise – especially in a city like Nashville. However, getting great sound doesn’t require an elaborate, arena-sized system that is difficult for your staff to manage.
Together with an audio/visual contractor, you can create a system that amplifies just the right sound for your space and allows musicians and entertainers to plug in quickly and staff to adjust easily.
Here’s an example of how that could work. Let’s say it’s a Wednesday afternoon and the typical background music is playing throughout the space, including the main stage speakers. The entertainer scheduled that evening shows up and gets set on the stage. With one press of a pre-configured scene button, the staff is able to switch the system from the background music to now route the stage audio throughout the restaurant. Plus, a camera focused on the stage routes a live feed to be shown on predetermined TV’s, and you go immediately from happy hour to show time.
4. Interactive games and graphics.
Interactive technology can also help increase engagement and conversation among guests. This is an especially popular option for sports bars and restaurants that double as an entertainment venue.
For instance, venues that show sporting events can program questions to pop up on screen during a game, polling diners about which team will score next, player trivia and more. Diners input their answers via an app or tablet, and the results are displayed on the screen. Restaurants can award prizes or simply encourage conversation and competition.
Similarly, staff can display the restaurant’s social media feed to share diner posts and photos or online reviews. When guests feel a part of the conversation, they are more likely to return.
Which restaurant technology is best for you?
These options are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s possible with technology in restaurants. The key is to work alongside a savvy technology integrator to help you bring your vision to life.
Diners have many options when it comes to choosing a restaurant. Working alongside a technology contractor as you design the best space for your guests is crucial to successfully creating unique dining experiences for guests.
Be on the cutting edge of restaurant technology with a free assessment of your restaurant or venue. We look forward to discovering what’s possible together.