The restaurant industry was one of the first to come back from the recession, and for 2012, the National Restaurant Association's Forecast predicts a record year of $632 billion in total industry sales.
The NRA's report shows that consumers are still paying to dine out, in part because of the industry's embrace of innovative technology.
There are several technology trends impacting the restaurant industry more than others, with one-quarter of chefs ranking Smartphone apps as the hottest and most important for restaurants to adapt.
A few other trends chefs are talking about include:
- 25 percent of chefs say using tablets such as iPads for menus and wine lists will be the top tech trend this year;
- 16 percent of chefs believe social media is imperative for restaurant success;
- 16 percent of chefs say mobile/wireless/pay-at-the-table payment options will be the most popular trend.
The NRA's forecast also explored consumer opinions, showing that:
- 40 percent of consumers say they'd be likely to use an electronic ordering system and menus on tablet computers at tableservice restaurants;
- 52 percent of consumers say they would use at-table electronic payment options and a restaurant's Smartphone app to view menus and make reservations;
- 40 percent of consumers say they would place online orders for takeout, use in-store self-service ordering kiosks, and use Smartphone apps to look at menus and order delivery at a quick-service establishment.
- 57 percent of consumers view a restaurant online before visiting.
The top technology trends will be on display at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 5-8 in Chicago.
Read more about systems and technology.