Thanks to two new documentaries, everyone’s talking about the million-dollar catastrophe that was Fyre Festival.

In summary: career scammer Billy McFarland and former rapper Ja Rule (of all people) overmarketed and grossly underdelivered on a one-of-a-kind event where festivalgoers were meant to rub shoulders with influencers like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid on Pablo Escobar’s famous private island in the Bahamas. They did not deliver on these promises. But they proved one thing I suspect about modern consumers – that experiences sell.

Like all customers, restaurant patrons are looking for more than just a meal. They want a memorable dining experience they can immortalise on their social media pages. The best way to turn your restaurant into the place to be is to use technology to offer something your competitors don’t have – as long as you deliver on your promise.

Experiences are the new black

Harris Group conducted a study which found that 72% of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of possessions. This shift away from “things” has been a boon for the hospitality industry. Millennials would rather travel, eat out, or do a new fun activity than stay at home surrounded by their stuff. This means more patrons for restaurants but also more pressure for establishments to wow the public. Sky dining has been done before, so has underwater dining and dining in the dark.

How can you deliver a unique dining experience without becoming too gimmicky or ripping off someone else’s idea? My suggestion is to turn to technology. There are new innovations every year that dominate the consumer market, but we hardly ever try to think creatively about the ways they could add to our patrons’ dining experiences. I think if the restaurant industry pushed itself beyond digital menus, we’d find that technology can inspire some exciting concepts.

The power of convenience

Convenience is the strongest motivator for integrating technology into a restaurant. The fast-food sector has already seen a positive response to mobile ordering and mobile payments using bespoke apps. Fine dining has also benefited from online reservations and personalised menus. If you can find a way to make your patrons’ experience as easy as possible with technology, then pursue it with determination because patrons always reward convenience with loyalty.

There are restaurants where you can listen to your favourite playlist on headphones while you eat while others distract you with games on tablets as you wait for your food. It’s all about eliminating some of the frustrations people have with the food service industry and replacing them with delightful experiences.

What’s ahead in 2019

We might start to see more restaurants making technology part of their operational planning this year, which will lead to exciting new experiences for patrons. Here are a few restaurant technology trends that are already taking shape:

  • Immersive diningTree by Naked in Tokyo is an ambitious concept aimed at stimulating all five of a patron’s senses using technology such as virtual reality (VR) and projection mapping.
  • 3D-rendered menu items – patrons in a few restaurants around the world can use their smartphones or restaurant iPads to view 3D renderings of menu items while they browse the menu, thanks to tech startups like Kabaq.
  • Ghost restaurants – There are now restaurants with nowhere for patrons to dine. They use the Uber model to bring the food (and sometimes a server) to you. However, unlike Uber, they don’t have brick-and-mortar premises – they offer a delivery service only.

If you’re thinking of including technology in your operational planning, why not start with Pilot? Our PoS technology will streamline your operations and allow you to deliver amazing experiences to your patrons. To learn more, download our infographic, The point of Point of sale .

Author : Rudi Badenhorst