The future of digital communications in restaurants: Touch, signage, entertainment
By Dawn Goetter, director of marketing and corporate communications at MicroVision, Inc.
In this day and age, fresh, on-demand content is the expectation wherever we go — in restaurants that applies to both the food being served and the technology being used to deliver an excellent experience to diners.
With restaurants' constantly changing menu offerings, promotions, FDA regulations, and beyond, digital communication is key as it allows restaurants to quickly and easily change or tweak content in real-time.
Further, it allows restaurants to communicate with customers in an engaging and stimulating manner that matches our growing desire to have easy-to-use technology solutions to manage everyday tasks.
Benefits of digital communication
Over the past several years, we've seen great strides in technology integration in restaurants such as digital menus, table-side tablets, mobile applications and more.
For restaurants, digital content offers the flexibility needed to make updates to promotional items and menu content (new items, prices, sold-out items, calorie counts, and more). Further, digital content can be more eye-catching and engaging than print materials, which can further entice customers to make additional purchases. Digital tools offer restaurants the chance to visually promote new or healthier options.
With laws from the FDA requiring the display of nutrition information, the ability to offer this information to customers in an engaging way via digital content provides benefits for both the customer and the restaurant.
Overall, digital content leads to a decrease in operational costs for the business. No longer will a restaurant need to regularly pay to update the print materials due to wear and tear, updates of the menu items, nutritional details, promos or other obsolescence drivers.
The guest experience
For customers, ordering on an interactive kiosk or tablet leads to a perceived reduction in wait times. Further, a plethora of games and entertainment options has become available at restaurants, further tapping into guests' desire for fresh content and stimulation.
With all the advances in using technology in restaurants, the solutions today have limits. Tablets on the table take up space, need to be monitored for security and damage, and can only be used by one or two customers at a time.
Projected display with interactive touch
Projected display with interactive touch technology amplifies the key benefits of digital communication and entertainment in restaurants while addressing some of the limitations to the common solutions in place today.
New technology combines projected display and time-of-flight sensing into a single, integrated small module that produces a high definition image right on the table from a short distance. It enables guests and restaurant employees to interact with the projected content. A small device mounted on the wall or from above can project images onto the tabletop to enhance the dining experience.
This solution mimics the type of touchscreen display people are used to on a smartphone or tablet, and it disappears when not in use. Wherever the image is projected, there'll be a virtual touchscreen ready for ordering, game playing, calling for assistance, paying or giving feedback. When the guests have completed their transactions or games, the screen can disappear or provide order status updates or promotional messages. Because the screen is a projected image there is no damage if someone spills on it and because the device can be wall or overhead mounted, there is no security concern with expensive hardware disappearing or being damaged from mishandling.
With this technology, restaurants can receive the benefits of adding technology for in-house efficiency and improved customer experience, enhancing the guest experience, reducing costs, and improving operations.
Projected content on tables can allow for interactive menus from which options can quickly be updated, nutrition content can be accessed, videos of preparation can be viewed, food can be ordered, and more. An enhanced menu that allows customers to click on an item to find out a full ingredient list can assist with the growing issue of food allergies or just assuage those who are picky eaters. The interactive display can be used to give diners updates on the timing of food delivery, initiate requests for more drinks, prompt for ordering dessert or calling for a server. Further, interactive games and entertainment options are made available here for the whole table to share. Overall, the guests are more engaged, open to being upsold, and likely to have more comfort in their selections.
Restaurants can reap many benefits: higher sales, enhanced guest satisfaction, and a decrease in the need to print, clean and store menus.
With the quick integration of technologies into restaurants over the past several years, this future is near. In fact, this technology exists. And, staying ahead of the technology curve offers an opportunity to meet your customers' needs while improving the bottom line.
Image via MicroVision.