The Future of Restaurants in 2022 & Beyond

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5 min read

Dec 3, 2021

The Future of Restaurants in 2022 & Beyond

It’s no secret that 2020 and 2021 have been a whirlwind for restaurant operators. COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, dine-in capacity limitations and social distancing have led both operators and diners to shift gears and look for new ways to serve guests and enjoy meals, respectively. That’s all to say that restaurants have had to innovate tremendously over the last two years.

With widespread vaccinations and fewer restrictions in place, we seem to be transitioning towards a new normal . So that begs the question: what’s next for the restaurant industry? Which innovations and restaurant consumer trends will we see next? What will guests expect from restaurants, bars and nightlife venues?

We’re sharing our predictions for the future of restaurants for 2022 and beyond. Here’s a sneak peek:

Guests will expect more
The digital experience will be more important than ever
Convenience will be a top priority for diners
Online ordering is here to stay
Automation will be key to scaling hospitality efforts
Data will be critical to retaining guests

Guests will expect more

After almost two years stuck at home, diners are keen to get out of the house and return to experiences they’ve missed out on. Guests will have high expectations, but restaurants will have a difficult time meeting them due to rising food costs, shifting pandemic-related situations and labor shortages. 

Future-proof your restaurant:

Staying on top of guest satisfaction with post-meal feedback surveys and review aggregation will be incredibly important in the new year and beyond. When you know what guests are thinking, you can more easily adopt their feedback and make meaningful changes to your service, menu and more.

The digital experience will be more important than ever for the future of restaurants

The future of restaurants will take place outside of the confines of a venue’s four walls. A diner’s digital experience with a restaurant will matter more and more. In fact, 54% of guests believe that an online reservations system is the most important technology feature a restaurant can offer.

Customers will expect to interact with restaurants online, whether that’s by booking a table or placing an order online, providing feedback through a survey or keeping up with the latest news via an email newsletter or social media.

Future-proof your restaurant:

Take a multi-pronged approach to connecting with guests digitally, and look for digital interfaces that enhance the customer experience, rather than causing friction: 

Offer a whitelabeled reservations platform, so guests can see your brand throughout the booking process, rather than the software’s brand.
Make it easy for guests to wait for a table from anywhere with a virtual waitlist
Let customers place takeout and delivery orders from their own devices, with a direct online ordering solution.

Convenience will be a top priority for diners

From the proliferation of fast casual chains over the last several decades to the twofold growth of the food delivery industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear: customers crave convenience, and they will continue to expect it in the years to come.

Tied to this desire for convenience is an expectation for personalization. Diners will expect the restaurant industry to be as customized and relevant as other industries. If consumers receive highly personalized emails featuring relevant products from their favorite retailers, they will expect an analogous experience from restaurants: from marketing messages to meals. Personalized convenience is a restaurant consumer trend the hospitality industry will see in 2022 and beyond.

Future-proof your restaurant:

Delivering personalized convenience can take many shapes.

It involves letting guests take control of the reservation booking process by making it easy for them to book online, choose where to sit, add upgrades (like a bouquet on the table) and update the reservation at any time. 

It involves sending guests who habitually dine on-premises highly targeted emails featuring their favorite dishes and encouraging them to place their first online orders by making it incredibly convenient. 

Personalized convenience also involves giving guests options, like enabling them to order with their server or via mobile order and pay technology, which lets diners order and pay for meals on demand, instead of waiting for a server to come by. An option like this, which is a display of excellent customer service, also benefits your restaurant by helping you navigate the labor shortage

Online ordering is here to stay

The takeout and delivery industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. According to McKinsey, food delivery has become a $150 billion market globally and the U.S. market has doubled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online ordering is here to stay. If your restaurant doesn’t offer convenient takeout and delivery options, you can bet that your customers will satisfy their cravings with your competition.

Future-proof your restaurant:

If you don’t offer it already, implement takeout and delivery through an online ordering platform. 

Third-party platforms and apps are an easy place to start, but their high fees can cost you significant profits.

It’s best to use a commission-free, direct online ordering platform like SevenRooms, which lets you keep your profits and access your customer data so you can develop relationships with your customers.

Automation will be key to scaling hospitality efforts for the future of restaurants

Because of the unprecedented labor shortage that restaurants are facing, it will be more important than ever for restaurants to do more with less. 

In the very near future, automation will not only help restaurants keep up with demand and daily operations, but it will also help them do things that just aren’t possible otherwise. For example, AI-enhanced table management software can review more than 10,000 seating assignment combinations per second to find the best table in the dining room for every guest.

In other words, automations in both operations and marketing will help restaurants scale their hospitality efforts

Future-proof your restaurant:

AI can help your restaurant do more with less in a number of ways. Instead of calling guests to remind them about reservations, you can implement an online reservations system that automatically sends reservation reminders via SMS. To deliver a level of hospitality that would be difficult to replicate otherwise, use a restaurant customer relationship management (CRM) platform to alert you when a VIP walks in.

When most aspects of your restaurant’s marketing are automated, you will save money and time, while attracting repeat business. Look for tools that automate email marketing and send your guests customized offers they won’t be able to resist. Plus, with review aggregation and post-meal feedback surveys, you can stay on top of guest sentiment in just a few minutes each day.

Data will be critical to retaining guests

Regulars are responsible for 80% of a restaurant’s revenue. By turning more guests into regulars, you will generate more revenue. 

So, what’s the key to generating more repeat business? Access to guest data.

When you have information about your guests – such as their dining history and preferences – you can market to them like never before. You will be able to attract them with targeted marketing offers that speak to those habits and preferences.

Future-proof your restaurant:

In order to access guest data, you will need to use tools that share data with you. Unfortunately, many third-party delivery services and reservation tools keep your guests’ data to themselves. 

The good news is, you can “convert” these third-party guests into direct guests: customers who will use your direct online ordering and reservations platforms to order takeout and book tables. After all, direct software lets you own your guest data.

Convert guests by inserting fliers into third-party takeout and delivery orders with coupon codes for their first direct orders. For third-party reservation guests, place postcards in check holders that offer reservation upgrades on their first direct bookings.

When guests make direct bookings and orders, you can collect information about their preferences, store it in your CRM and use it to personalize every interaction – online and on-premises – to make them feel like VIPs.

Data, automation, convenience and personalization are at the forefront for future restaurants

Future restaurants will need to focus on leveraging data and automation to give their guests the hospitality they expect. Diners will crave a level of hospitality that not only gives them what they want, when they want it, but that also personalizes offers and makes it easier for them to decide when to make a reservation or what to order.

SevenRooms’ Guest Experience and Retention platform can help future restaurants deliver the experiences customers will expect. Request a demo today.

FAQs about future restaurants

1. Is the restaurant industry growing or declining?

1. Despite the drastic hit in sales that the restaurant industry faced in the midst of COVID-19, there has been a dramatic increase in sales within the industry. Restaurants that introduced innovations during the pandemic are using these restaurant consumer trends to their advantage and seeing the benefits. 

2. How did coronavirus shape the future of restaurants?

2. One of the most significant changes in the restaurant industry during the pandemic was the rise in self-service ordering. Restaurants began offering new delivery, curbside pickup and in-car dining options, while some got rid of their storefronts altogether and created ghost kitchens. Another notable restaurant consumer trend is enhanced sanitary efforts and safety precautions, which will keep diners healthy post-COVID. 

3. Some of the top restaurant consumer trends are streamlined menus, outdoor dining, ghost kitchens, online ordering and meal kits that customers can enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. One one the most notable trends is alcohol-to-go, which has taken shape over the last couple of years.

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