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5 Restaurant Tech Trends to Enhance Hospitality in 2024

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By Tock Staff

The right tools can help your team work smarter, grow revenue, and strengthen connections with guests.

In 2024, it’s nearly impossible to run a restaurant without technology. According to a National Restaurant Association report released in March, 76% of operators say technology gives them an edge over the competition. Meanwhile, 60% are looking for restaurant technology to help enhance the guest experience.

Tools like reservation platforms and mobile apps can make the dining experience easy, convenient, and enjoyable for guests. The right tech can also empower hospitality providers, who can use guest data to provide personalized service and shape decisions from menu planning to marketing. Other solutions cut staff time spent on mundane tasks, reducing labor costs, and freeing employees to focus on the guest experience.  

But a successful hospitality business still thrives on warmth, empathy, and human connection. The trick for operators is leveraging the latest restaurant tech to provide memorable, outstanding service. Here are 5 technology trends in the restaurant industry to keep an eye on in 2024 and beyond— and how they can help you create a stronger connection with guests and keep them coming back.

 

1. Voice ordering and facial recognition could be the next QR code menu

Guests may prioritize high-level service and unique experiences, but they also want to dine out to feel frictionless. Contactless hospitality—think curbside pickups, QR code menus, and online prepayments—became the norm for restaurants when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Now, many guests, especially Gen Z and Millennials, still prefer some of these convenient, low-touch options. According to the NRA report, 65% of guests at full-service restaurants said they’d be likely to pay via tableside tablet, and 62% said they’d use contactless or mobile payment methods. 

In the future, technology will have the potential to make the restaurant ordering process even smoother and more accessible for all diners. Guests may one day place voice orders through their smartphones or table-mounted speakers, while facial recognition in restaurants could suggest menu items based on past orders and handle transactions seamlessly.  

 

2. Reservation platforms power experiences that stand out

Today’s restaurant guests are motivated by value but still seek exciting, unforgettable experiences. In response to economic trends, consumers are more likely to dine out less often, but they crave high-value experiences when they do, according to research from consulting firm AlixPartners

Casual dining establishments can bring guests in the door by providing a high level of service and offering meaningful, engaging experiences. Reservation systems can track consumer tastes and enable restaurants to market to certain guests to an experience based on interest—for example, a special wine dinner with a producer that specializes in Malbecs for a red wine enthusiast. 

Using a powerful, customizable reservation platform makes it easier to communicate the unique value of an experience like this to guests.

 

3. Integrated  POS systems allow for greater personalization and profit

POS systems can do much more than process payments. They can run accounting reports, track inventory and employee hours, and capture guest insights—especially when integrated with tech tools like reservation platforms and delivery apps. POS integrations with reservation management software can also put guest preferences and spending habits at your staff’s fingertips.

POS data integrated into a reservation platform might even help restaurants choose their guests rather than the other way around, enabling restaurants to create more relevant guest experiences and drive profitability. One could imagine restaurants giving preference off the waitlist not just to more loyal patrons but bigger spenders, maximizing revenue before guests even walk in the door.

 

4. Takeout and delivery technology offers greater convenience and speed

When it comes to takeout and delivery, guests are much more comfortable ordering online or with a mobile app. In fact, the vast majority expect it. The NRA survey found that 84% of respondents would place a delivery order through a restaurant’s website, while 71% say they’d use a third-party platform like DoorDash or GrubHub. 

This indicates a guest preference for turning to the restaurant directly for support when ordering delivery. In fact, the NRA surreport found 27% of full-service restaurant operators plan to devote resources to develop smartphone apps in 2024, while 40% of limited-service operators plan to do the same. An important aspect of hospitality is serving guests the way they want to be served. Catering to higher demand for off-premise options like takeout and delivery is one way for operators to do that.

The next wave of off-premise dining may be powered by automation. Fast-casual chains like Chick-Fil-A have been testing out restaurant delivery drones and getting positive feedback from diners, who appreciate the speed and freshness of their orders. Meanwhile, UberEats is testing autonomous vehicles for deliveries in California and Texas. While there are still logistical and regulatory questions around these technologies that need answers, the progress that’s already been made in these fields shows promise for the near future. 

 

5. AI supports the human touch of hospitality 

AI in restaurants cannot replace the human connection that defines great hospitality —but it can make outstanding service easier for your staff to provide while creating convenience for guests. AI chatbots or virtual concierges can provide instant answers to basic queries via text 24/7, allowing highly skilled staff to focus on more complex requests or develop creative ways to take care of guests. 

AI tools have the potential to keep booking platforms secure, protecting guests and restaurants from scammers and bots. Al could even be tapped to suggest menu items or wine pairing based on guest preferences, including past orders and dietary preferences. AI in restaurant kitchens can help managers and teams plan for rush periods and make suggestions based on real-time information on customer flow.   

Not every hospitality challenge can be solved with a shiny new device or cutting-edge app. However, the latest restaurant tech can keep operators informed about tools they can use to succeed. The right POS system or table management software can help you and your team provide a welcoming, unforgettable experience to every guest who walks in the door.

 

Request a demo to learn more about switching to Tock. If you’re already a customer, talk to hospitality about launching an experience today.

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