Practical or playful, the way we prepare, present, and consume food is an ever-changing landscape. As we look to the future, the industry is moving towards creating technology that supports sustainable programs, and streamlined customer experiences.
Here is our round up of the biggest technology trends in 2018 that you need to be across in the hospitality industry.
Easy mobile payment
Cardless, tap-to-go payment technology isn’t new, first arriving in Australia to much hype in 2015. Since then, we have become increasingly reliant on the tap-to-go system, with many consumers ditching their wallet in favour for their smartphone with paying access.
In 2018, contactless mobile payment has gone from a nice-to-have technology to a need-to-have. And not only does it need to be available, but simple to use, too.
Small business? There’s no excuse now that CommBank and Invoice2Go have introduced affordable technology that allows you to accept payments from any source, including tap-and-go systems.
With customer’s embracing cardless payments, it’s now an expected service as everywhere from fine dining to the local takeaway shop. You don’t want to be left behind.
In-house recharge facilities
With mobile phone usage taking over laptops and tablets, phones are a permanent fixture to all parts of the day – including in your venue. Having wireless recharge facilities is the latest ‘surprise and delight’ tactic to create a memorable customer experience.
Qi wireless power stations are a great example of an easy system that you can install in your venue straight away.
Nine McDonalds restaurants in Germany were recently installed with Qi chargers in the tables. McDonalds representative David Ehmann said, “We are happy to provide this innovative technology for our guests with noticeable benefit and free of charge.”
Kitchen 67, in Michigan, USA also distinguishes itself with Qi. “Qi brings more business into the restaurant. It’s been a big part of the overall success of Kitchen 67 with the overall technology integration into the entertainment aspect of the guest experience,” said a Kitchen 67 representative.
Digital menus and DIY ordering
Printing out menus week after week is leaving a considerable carbon footprint. Like it or not, the combination of food and paper menus is always going to leave them grubby and needing to be replaced. Avoid this by installing digital menus that can be updated at any time, are environmentally friendly, and best of all – fun to use!
Digital menus usually come in the form of a tablet that links up internally to your kitchen or front-of-house. Customers place their order by selecting a menu item or deal, saving you manpower as the need for wait staff is reduced significantly. It also places the responsibility of ordering accuracy back in the hands of the customer, meaning there’s no more confused bills or incorrect dishes.
Meal customisation is made simple as notes are able to be communicated directly from the customer to the kitchen. Similarly, you are able to communicate directly with your customer with nutritional information, venue updates, and even links for them to follow or post about their social media pages.
Plant based food technology
It’s the food movement that’s taking over Australia: veganism. A meat-free, animal-product-free diet, veganism requires specific ingredients and plenty of imagination in order to build out an interesting menu. In recent years, science has joined the party to create fascinating and delicious plant-based food options.
From ‘bleeding’ vegan burgers (hint: it’s beetroot), dairy-free ice cream and cheese, sushi-grade fake ‘tuna’, and raw, flour-free breads; there’s never been a more exciting time to experiment with a vegan menu. With even the non-vegans being encouraged to eat less meat and more vegetables, plant based tech is going to take off in 2018. Most major supermarket chains are already stocking vegan alternatives, and with the formally-niche diet going mainstream, how does your food-tech match up?
Experimenting is the name of the game. Hydrators are a great way to start turning food ‘scraps’ into reusable vegan items like crackers, whilst fermentation and pickling brings another dimension of flavours to your menu.
Tracking to tell a story
Transparency is one of the most pressing issues in hospitality for 2018. More than ever, your customer wants to be assured of the ethical nature of your produce – they want to know where it is from, how it got to you, and who was farming it.
An interesting way to communicate this narrative is through trackable produce. Whilst it is a concept still in its infancy, there has already been plenty of excitement in regards to the chip technology that allows a customer to follow the produce journey from farm to table. Honeysuckle Turkeys in the USA are among the first to trial this new technology.
Whilst this kind of connection with the meat on your plate might make you feel a little squeamish to start with, growing concerns with factory farming conditions means that this could be your best option. In family restaurants particularly, having the peace of mind knowing the source and journey of your food will only become more important in coming years.
Welcoming technology into your venue is an exciting step forward. Doing things the ‘old fashioned way’ may feel tempting or nostalgic, but it will only serve to isolate you as we move towards an increasingly tech-driven world.
Embracing the latest in hospitality tech trends doesn’t have to be expensive, or overwhelming. Experimenting with small projects each month will eventually build up your knowledge in food tech, making it much easier in the long run to try out bigger projects.