I remember watching the Jetsons as a kid (which will probably give you some insight as to my age) and was amazed at all the cool technology they had. Although I didn’t recognize it as technology at the time.
Two things really stick with me from that show. In the future, transportation consisted of jet packs and hover boards and making dinner consisted of pushing a few buttons and then the meal would magically appear. After listening to Jim Sullivan speak at the recent National Restaurant Association Restaurant show I realized we have accomplished that second one.
In Jim’s presentation he talked about key trends over the next five years and there was a theme of technology running through several of them. The two I was most interested in was the idea of digital servers and ordering through your mobile phone or tablet, as they are similar experiences. Let’s take a look at these.
There are many restaurants now who have ordering devices on the table so when you’re ready to place your order, you push a few buttons and your order heads to the kitchen. When you’re ready to pay you use the tablet on the table. You can also place an order from your mobile device, pay for it and have it waiting when you arrive.
These digital devices have become the servers and the only human interaction you have are when your food arrives. I personally believe the server plays an important role in the entire dining experience, especially where service and customer satisfaction are key elements of the restaurant’s culture.
And it’s that culture that is such a crucial element to success. We don’t go to different restaurants to experience the exact same experience, we want uniqueness. We want an experience.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t digressing into a diatribe about how technology won’t ever replace GuestChecks, because in some settings they certainly will. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive – tablets are an integral component to ensuring accurate orders and great service – whether it’s an iPad tablet from Apple, or a GuestCheck tablet from NCCO.
It is pretty cool though to think about something that was envisioned decades ago finally coming true. And it does makes me wonder when I’m going to start seeing my food delivered via hover board. That would really be something.