Restaurants are gearing up for success in the post-COVID era by capitalizing on contactless technology. The contactless dining approach that was necessitated by the pandemic is expected to be a key feature of restaurants long into the future. Now eateries of all types are getting creative with their contactless dining menus to improve the experience for diners and restaurants alike.
Just as the use of contactless payment technology is surging in restaurants, contactless ordering is becoming increasingly popular with diners and is showing signs of remaining long into the future. Contactless dining menus are one of the nine technology trends forecasted to reshape the restaurant industry in 2021, along with increased use of QR codes and the rise in third-party delivery services.
These are some of the approaches restaurants can take to create contactless menus that speed the ordering process, are simple to use, and engage diners in ways that enhance their meals and convert them into regulars.
QR Codes Are Old Dogs Learning New Menu Tricks
A technology whose origins date back to the 1990s is breathing new life into the humble restaurant menu in 2021. QR codes allow diners to access menus and other information by using an app on their smartphones to scan the code image situated in a tabletop stand.
QR codes have found a permanent home in restaurants not simply because of their ability to safeguard the health of diners and restaurant employees, but also because the technology is a big hit with restaurant customers. The codes make it fast and simple to access menus, which overcomes the hesitancy of some diners to adopt the technology. One restaurant owner is quoted as saying customers who are initially skeptical of QR codes become fans of the technology before they finish their meal.
These are among the advantages of QR code menus:
- They allow menus to be updated instantly, so a server could refresh the menu when a daily special sells out or when a new item becomes available.
- They save restaurants money and reduce waste by allowing eateries to dispose of their paper menus permanently.
- Restaurants can easily add photographs and other striking visual elements to their menus to attract and engage diners.
- The information accessed by QR codes can include detailed descriptions of menu items, including ingredients that may trigger a diner’s food allergies.
- The technology is quick and easy for restaurants to adopt, increasing restaurant sales without requiring much time or effort.
Contactless Menus Allow Restaurants to Bring the Kitchen to the Table
The primary interaction between a restaurant and its customers is when diners place their orders. This is an opportunity for the restaurant to make a lasting connection with its patrons by using the contactless features built into modern cloud-based POS systems. When diners use their smartphones to scan the QR code for the menu, the impact can be dynamic, extending beyond the presentation of food and drink items, and introducing the restaurant and its staff in creative ways.
For example, a close-up picture of the daily special can be teamed with a shot of the chef beaming proudly as he shows off his kitchen creation. Menu items can be displayed along with complementary items, such as the perfect soup or salad to enhance the diner’s chosen entree, or a virtual dessert tray that is likewise paired with the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
The icing on the cake is that QR codes and other contactless technologies are within the budgets of nearly every type and style of eatery: from pop-up restaurants and food trucks to Michelin-starred establishments with pedigrees as long as your arm. The framework for contactless dining menus and other no-touch options is built into the POS systems that restaurants increasingly rely on to support all aspects of their operations, from inventory management to accounting and sales analytics.
The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Contactless Dining Menu
One of the best forms of restaurant advertising is olfactory: the enticing aromas emanating from the restaurant kitchen will attract a crowd of diners faster than a mountain of paper flyers. Now restaurants can take advantage of the digital equivalent of mouth-watering aromas by devising multimedia menus that catch the eye the way pleasing food odors catch the nose.
To make any customer-facing technology work requires an interface that is intuitive, easily understood, and tolerant of customers who may lack tech-savviness. A multimedia menu serves as an interactive catalog of the restaurant’s fare, allowing diners to craft a meal from appetizers to dessert, including their choice of beverage and excluding any items they are allergic to or simply don’t want.
These are among the advantages of contactless multimedia menus for restaurants and their patrons:
- They create excitement in diners as they anticipate the meal they’re about to enjoy. Patrons can tap deeper and deeper into the interactive menu to discover new options while crafting their ideal repast.
- Because restaurant customers are making their menu selections directly, their orders are more accurate and thus less likely to result in complaints or disappointment.
- The order process is faster because orders are delivered to the kitchen instantly. At the same time, diners are able to place their order at their own pace so they won’t feel rushed by wait staff.
- The systems free up time for servers to spend on tasks such as meal prep and checking in with diners to ensure they have everything they need and are enjoying their meal.
- The interactive menu itself becomes a highlight of the dining experience, offering customers background on the restaurant, its owners and employees, and various house specialties. The menus can even be linked to news headlines and other topical information.
When it comes to making lemonade out of lemons, who’s better at it than restaurants? The challenges that restaurants face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic become opportunities for establishments with the drive and ingenuity to thrive by converting obstacles into strengths. Contactless dining menus provide restaurants with innovative ways to establish closer connections with their clientele.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your restaurant or retail business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence.
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