The past 18 months have been arguably the most challenging the hospitality industry has ever faced. Staff shortages, dining restrictions and falling revenue have forced restaurants and cafes to innovate new business strategies to stay afloat.
Every business has responded differently to these challenges, but one thing is for certain: the hospitality industry has changed forever. To succeed in this new landscape, owners must implement modern technologies and practices or risk failure. But it’s not all doom and gloom – these revolutionary innovations have largely improved both the serving and dining experience in hospitality venues. With diners more engaged and owners on the pulse of innovation, the only direction for profits to go is up!
Recapping: Main challenges faced by hospitality today
The COVID-19 Pandemic
The hospitality industry around the globe is undergoing a staff shortage crisis. The closure of international borders, an exodus of international workers and experienced staff leaving the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic has left the hospitality industry with thousands of vacant positions for chefs, wait staff, kitchen hands and venue managers.
Shrinking profit margins
Profits margins have been tough going in hospitality since well before Covid-19. Much like retail in the mid 2000s, the industry has been ready for shakeup. As the industry readjusts and becomes ‘bricks and mobile’ new technologies such as QR code menus can help customers feel engaged. This is one of many technologies that can help businesses find their feet after the freefall of shrinking profit margins.
Sustainability and food waste
Hospo owners and customers are becoming increasingly concerned with sustainability in the industry. Mass food waste is just not acceptable anymore – it costs the business precious resources, and is socially irresponsible. Customers are looking for hospo businesses to show their commitment to a sustainable future. This means minimising food waste and ensuring an effective recycling system is in place and that eco-friendly options are provided for front and back of house.
Fear of change and implementing new technologies
A huge obstacle for the hospitality industry is a fear of change. When dining practices have remained unchanged for so long, it can be difficult to welcome change, even when it's beneficial. The reality is that we find routine and familiarity comforting and when that’s tossed out the window, it can be frightening. Hospitality will never be what it once was, and to flourish in this new normal, businesses need to overcome their fear and implement new technologies and practices that will ensure the longevity of their service.
Looking forward: The top 10 trends of hospitality
To account for all these challenges, many trends have emerged. We’ve highlighted the top 10 trends and their relevance to today’s hospitality businesses. See the full guide here!
Diners have embraced new service models
Dining is an intensely sensory experience. The smell, taste and look of the food all determine whether the customer will be back for more. We know that menus with photographs encourage higher customer spending, and with the advent of QR code menus, it’s more important than ever to embrace this. Customers are more likely to choose a restaurant that has appetising, professional-looking photos of food, so make sure you’ve optimised your menu for your customer’s experience.
Smartphones play an important part in the ordering process
It’s no secret that technology is hospitality’s new best friend. Mobile phones have particularly changed how customers and establishments interact. Less than 1 in 10 diners have never used a smartphone to order food and drink. Take advantage of this by implementing an effective QR code menu that your customers can scan to see their options. This lets them browse at their leisure, and helps you keep track of customer trends and data so you can optimise your business.
Hospitality is more human
Technology doesn’t replace hospitality - it enhances it. Rather than spending time taking orders, your staff can engage with customers and discuss the history of the establishment, how a dish was created and other more meaningful topics. Only 1 in 3 people said recommendations from wait staff were an essential element of the service. Friendliness, warmth, and genuine interactions are valued far higher.
Customers are willing to tip more than usual
Everyone knows that the past 18 months have been a challenge for dining establishments. To show their support, many customers are choosing to tip more. When ordering through a smartphone, more than 9 in 10 diners will leave a tip.
Diners won’t wait to be waited on
With many diners becoming accustomed to lightning-fast QR code ordering, patience for rote tasks performed by waiters has significantly decreased. Why wait for a waiter to hand over a menu or organise the bill when it can all be accessed from the convenience of their phone? Gone are the days where your wait staff had to navigate rude customers who clicked their fingers or rolled their eyes while trying to get the bill. With QR code mobile ordering, customers get the convenience of instant ordering and payments.
A picture tells a thousand words (and makes a thousand sales)
Not only will pictures help sell your main dishes, they’ll upsell your side dishes, too! Online order-at-table menus allow businesses to provide suggested pairings and popular options. Where 1 in 3 people never ordered a daily special recited by a server, more than 4 in 5 choose to order a suggested side dish when ordering through a smartphone. The data speaks for itself, so jump on the QR code bandwagon and get those upsells happening!
Diners are increasingly tech-savvy
Previously, many customers would have fumbled with a QR code, unsure of what it was or how it worked. But with new technologies, the growing popularity of delivery/pick up services and check-in requirements, customers have become more tech-savvy than ever. Implementing tech into the dining experience is no longer a painful process but an easy way to glide through ordering and paying for food.
QR codes are here to stay
QR codes are no longer a new technology- they’ve become a part of everyday life . More than 75% of all LA diners would use a QR code ordering system even if there were a server available instead! If restaurants, bars and cafes don’t adapt to this new norm, they’ll be left behind. Digital menus are here to stay, so switching to an effective QR code menu should become a top priority for hospo businesses.
Diners prefer a one-stop-shop for viewing a menu, ordering and paying
Convenience is the name of the game in hospitality now. Seperate drinks menus, dine-in menus, and payment systems seem archaic now. Customers prefer having all these services condensed into one place. With QR code menus, diners can browse food options at their leisure and order instantly online.
Online ordering allows hospo owners to see user behaviour and data
Digital menus are a great choice to improve the dining experience, but they also provide value to restaurants. With a QR code menu, your business can track data more efficiently to see which meals are more popular, what days of the week produce more revenue, how frequently a diner orders from you and much more. QR codes are an effective POS system that records data to optimise business practice, increase your sales and improve the dining experience.
Final thoughts on these trends
The hospitality industry has changed, but the change is for the better. New technologies and approaches to dining mean customers can have a better dining or takeaway experience and you can increase your sales. Without these new developments – QR code menus, delivery and takeaway providers, widespread use of mobile phones – hospo businesses would struggle much more. The best way to increase sales and develop meaningful relationships is to effectively implement these technologies.