In the food & beverage (F&B) industry, new technologies are often met with resistance. This could be due to high costs or low technical knowledge. However, amidst the pandemic, a restaurant or hotel operating at the intersection of hospitality and technology can experience significant positive outcomes, such as increasing margins, enhancing the dining experience for their customers and streamlining in-location operations to promote safety and uphold hygiene standards. As the F&B industry ponders the uncertainties of the future, cosy dinners and large celebrations have faded away turning ‘Contactless’ into the new buzzword. Contactless dining technology is a tool for long-term growth in the F&B industry. It leverages the innovation of technology to enhance the intimacy of hospitality, given limited physical contact. Guest happiness, staff safety and targeted communication are some of the many benefits that come with adopting contactless dining solutions.
Contactless technology has the potential to facilitate both safety and convenience for the post-COVID customer. Apart from the food itself, the overall experience restaurants provide their guests will be crucial in determining future success. To ensure lasting service and loyal customers, restaurants will need to reevaluate strategies. Ensuring that they align with the new needs and expectations of their guests is the priority. This includes integrating new forms of technology like contactless, without being restricted to just contactless payments.
The younger generation of customers is already tech-savvy food enthusiasts. They have an affinity toward food delivery companies that offer convenience, instant information, and social engagement through technology. These include cloud kitchens like Swiggy, that readily adapt to technology changes and leverage social media to expand their loyal clientele. By implementing contactless dining, such values are brought inside the restaurant — and not restricted to delivery.
According to Zomato, the brands who can do better in a post-COVID world are the ones that customers already trust. As costs increase, customers will be ready to pay more if it ensures improvement in the safety aspect. Consumers now are more likely to become safety-conscious and prioritise safety over other factors like time, or even taste. Safety will become a paramount concern for all restaurants going forward.
CONTACTLESS A PART OF THE DINING EXPERIENCE
A full contactless dining experience will have multiple levels. Think of a typical sushi bar with a conveyor belt, but elevated. The process will allow customers to avail contactless services end-to-end. It will start by browsing the menu and placing an order through their phones. Food will reach the table via conveyor belts or heavily protected staff. The menu is one of the hundreds of touchpoints consumers go through right from the time they enter the restaurant. Customers can use their phones to see the menus, place an order and make payments. This will avoid contact with hard copies of menus, restaurant menu tablets and bill folders.
However, contact during some aspects of the dining experience, including the food being cooked is inevitable. Yet, technology offers solutions even beyond just menus and payments. For example, Paytm and Zomato recently announced plans to introduce an additional option on their apps for contactless dining. Through this, customers have access to the live feed of the restaurant kitchen, a feature that has also been incorporated by Roseate Hotels and Resorts. The link to the video of their food being prepared will reassure customers that care is being taken with their food preparation, building a solid foundation of trust.
An example outside of India is Devourin Spark. It is a QR code-based digital solution that offers a range of contactless solutions in the dining space. The team at Devourin use their experience in commonplace F&B servicing to elevate their offering to meet the current needs of the industry. They do so by integrating key requirements of the hotel industry while also adhering to the new realities of wearing masks, reduced physical contact and social distancing. How it works is, a single QR code opens up a variety of services that includes digital menu, digital ordering, payment, real-time feedback and loyalty points. This business model has allowed their business to leverage technology and reduce overhead costs, while also attracting a larger clientele due to their strict adherence to safety measures.
Clearly, many businesses have looked at contactless as a long-term solution, and not a quick fix for COVID-19. Are you ready to make the transition?