Restaurant dining rooms are starting to reopen after months of closure due to a pandemic, but many guests are hesitant to return. More than 50% of people in a recent Dataessential’s industry survey said they would not be comfortable with on-premise dining once the pandemic improves and social distancing is eased.
It’s not all bad news though. Over 40% of respondents said dining at their favorite restaurant is the food and drink place they are most excited about – beating out bars and movies to come in No.1 on the list.
The right technology can help restaurants resume business and provide a safe dining experience that gives customers confidence the establishment is doing everything it can to protect their health.
A menu tablet at each table can replace plastic and paper options, lessening the surface area where germs live and reducing the number of items to clean after each use. As with all tabletop devices, the National Restaurant Association guidelines say they must be sanitized between seatings. Alternatively, an up-to-date menu that can be accessed on a mobile device gives guests a contactless way to decide on a dish.
Taking orders and processing payments tableside cuts down on the need for paper and pens, both havens for germs. It also increases service speed and order accuracy, which is especially important to retain customers who may already be nervous simply by being in a dining room. Additionally, wireless POS systems can boost revenue since tables are turned faster – accelerating restaurants’ financial recovery.
In addition to shorter lines and higher average guest spend, self-ordering kiosks give customers a no-contact way to place and pay for their meal. Maintaining a six-foot distance is difficult when ordering from a counter, but this technology can help assure guests their experience is safe while also reducing labor costs.
Contactless Payment Systems
Mobile wallets and tap and pay cards have been around for years. Now, the technology is being used to decrease person-to-person transactions and slow the virus’ spread through cash and plastic credits cards. Adding this payment option improves guest safety and lets conscious consumers know their well-being is a top priority.
Digital Check Presenters
These mobile devices allow diners to facilitate their own checkout for table service using a built-in credit card processor. Instead of a waiter disappearing into the unknown with a customer’s card, guests can quickly scan, tap or insert their chip right from the table – preventing their card from coming into contact with contaminants.
Virtual Gift Cards
Robust gift card programs can boost revenue and bring in new customers. But rather than passing out physical cards, virtual options eliminate the need for person-to-person contact and keep everything conveniently stored on the cloud.
Guest Engagement Apps
Restaurants can motivate customers to return and increase their average guest check with a loyalty program that is easy to redeem from a mobile device. Businesses get the added benefit of gaining valuable insights into customer behavior so they can focus on what works to maximize ROI and secure repeat visits.
The restaurant industry may be forever changed by the recent pandemic. But as more people resume their normal lives and start visiting dining rooms again, businesses can use technology to build customer trust, improve the bottom line and find new ways to safely serve guests.