Top Restaurant Technology Trends for 2017

2017 is just around the corner, and a new year in the 21st century means new technology.

Your guests want restaurant technology that is convenient, innovative, and helpful. What they do not want is technology that interrupts their experience or seems unnecessary.

A recent study conducted by Toast POS discovered what your guests really want when it comes to restaurant technology. It’s called Restaurant Technology in 2016: Diners Edition, and it compiles the restaurant tech opinions from over 1,000 diners across the U.S. The report looks back on some of the biggest technological changes this industry has seen, with a focus on consumer demand and expectations. The report also looks to the future to see just what your guests want from restaurant technology in 2017.

Here are 10 technological advancements that diners will be looking for in restaurants of the future.

A Server Call Button

We all know the awkward period of time when we’re done with our food but can’t seem to wave down our server for the bill. Customers also get frustrated when they desperately want a refill, need to place their order, or want to ask for that appetizer after all.

Restaurant-goers want a way to subtly catch their servers’ attention, as opposed to waving frantically, shouting, or just sitting in silence. A simple server call button, light, or signal could alert the server without disrupting discussion at the table.

The great thing about a server call button is that it is not invasive to the diner’s restaurant experience. Additionally, it actually solves a real problem that people face when going out to eat. Finally, it’s cost effective. Even if you’re not ready to equip all of your tables with lights and switches, you can start to implement the idea of subtly alerting servers in your restaurant.

Take, for example, Dallas-based Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao. Fogo puts these double-sided cards on every table. Diners can flip them when they do or do not want more food as servers walk by.

While this is a step in the right direction, most respondents wanted a specific button or calling device. One individual even mentioned the idea of a pager.

This idea is very similar to the call button used to signal flight attendants on airplanes (and good luck finding a plane without a call button today).

Restaurant Feedback Technology

Your restaurant should be thriving off of feedback. Whether it be from comment cards, Yelp reviews, or face-to-face customer conversations, the feedback your guests give is your restaurant’s recipe for success. However, not every customer leaves feedback – and that’sa problem.

So imagine, if you will, that every customer gave you restaurant feedback. One survey respondent from the 2016 Restaurant Tech Report called for “a convenient technological device, easily located and VERY easy to use, that would let me rate my dining experience.”

To get truly worthwhile data, you would need a more advanced version of Arby’s “If your service was great please ring the bell!” method of collecting customer data, or even the TSA’s “Happy or Not” button-pressing campaign.

According to the report, 68 percent of restaurant-goers agree that server tablets improve their restaurant experience. If you bring these into your restaurant, your servers can easily activate a post-meal survey for your guests to take right at the table after they pay.

Better Bill-Splitting Technology

As popular as Venmo is for settling payments between friends, nothing is more convenient than splitting the bill right at the table. Whether it’s assigning certain items to individual diners or evenly splitting apps among the party, customers (and servers) want to be able to split the bill without a hassle.

Restaurants that don’t allow bill splitting are not very ideal for tech-savvy patrons. The report found that the majority of diners (90 percent at more expensive restaurants) pay with credit or debit card. When your restaurant can deliver a more customized payment experience, your guests will both take note of it and appreciate it.

Click here to see the rest of the 10 restaurant technology trends that your guests want in 2017, plus the full results of the Restaurant Technology in 2016 Report.