Insights from Toast’s Restaurant Technology Report

A new Restaurant Technology Report from Toast uncovered significant areas of disconnect between restaurants and their guests.

More than 900 restaurant operators and 1,200 diners weighed in on restaurant technology, operations, and industry trends for the report. While the consensus is that restaurant technology is positive among both groups, they didn’t see eye to eye on every feature.

So, what do restaurant-goers really value in the restaurant experience, and is your restaurant meeting their demands?

Download the Restaurant Technology in 2017 Industry Report

Mobile Payment

With a smartphone in more hands than ever before, mobile pay is consistently on the rise.

Last year, only 42 percent of diners admitted to ever using mobile pay at a restaurant. This year, it was found that 58 percent of diners use mobile pay or a restaurant’s app sometimes or always when it is an option at restaurants.

Despite this growing demand for and adoption of mobile pay among restaurant-goers, restaurants have not embraced it at a similar speed. According to the report, only 22 percent of restaurants offer mobile pay.

Mobile pay is tied with numerous benefits for restaurant owners, such as efficient cashless payments and integration with loyalty programs. In 2018, the usage of mobile pay (and therefore the need for it) will likely increase. Restaurants should be prepared to upgrade their tech or potentially isolate phone-addicted guests.


Another relative newbie to the restaurant technology sphere, restaurant kiosks are divisive among diners themselves. 49 percent of diners agree that kiosks improve their dining experience, while 51 percent disagree.

Restaurants are slightly more aligned on this topic. 61 percent of operators say kiosks do not improve their efficiency.

Kiosks, however, are being looked at by bigger players in the industry as an investment. 2017 saw restaurants like Wendy’s and Shake Shake implement the self-order technology and it’s not hard to see why. Despite indifference toward kiosks among the general population, the report found that 54 percent of those under age 40 say kiosks improve their dining experience.

Restaurants appealing to millennials and gen Z – particularly those in the quickserve segment – shouldn’t be dismissing kiosks so quickly when considering a tech upgrade.

Top Tech Features

Diners and operators agree that guest wifi, loyalty, and online ordering are important to the dining experience. However, one disconnect on technology was the need for gift cards and online reservations.

Gift cards were identified as one of the most important restaurant technologies by operators (probably because gift card spend can be an average of 72 percent higher than non-gift card purchases).

Guests, however, named online reservations the feature they value most in a restaurant, though restaurants did not agree.

Features like online reservations, mobile pay, and kiosk ordering put the experience in guests hands and restaurant should be equipped to relinquish control in some areas moving forward.

Where Both Parties Agree

Despite not being on the same page in many areas, diners and restaurateurs agree that restaurant technology is beneficial. 73 percent of diners say technology improves their dining experience, while 95 percent of restaurants say it helps their business efficiency.

For all the results and insights, download the full Restaurant Technology in 2017 Report here.