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News & Press / June 28, 2018

U.S. Diners Want Technology to Complement, Not Overwhelm, Their Dining Experience

New SevenRooms “Diners of the Future” report reveals new ways to engage with guests

NEW YORK (June 28, 2018)SevenRooms, the all-in-one reservation, seating and guest management platform for restaurants, today released its “Diners of the Future” report, which found that diners have increasingly high expectations for their entire restaurant experience, from making a reservation to paying the check. With over half of Americans (51%) wanting their server to remember them from a previous visit to make a dining experience stand out, restaurants are expected to deliver that personalization at scale. Advanced technology like AI-powered chatbots, voice-powered assistants and software that collects guest data helps restaurants achieve these high standards, but needs to be implemented with a human-forward approach as guests get increasingly familiar with these new technologies.

The study, conducted with third party research firm YouGov, examined diners’ expectations around the use of technology in the restaurant industry. The full report is available here.

“The ubiquity of technology and personalization in our daily lives has created an urgency for restaurants to evolve with guests’ expectations,” says Joel Montaniel, CEO of SevenRooms. “Diners expect the conveniences and personalization that technology offers, but want it implemented with a human touch so it doesn’t overshadow the personal elements of an exceptional dining experience. It’s more important than ever to understand and accommodate the forward-thinking diner by enhancing the experience through technology without removing the human element.”

Managing Tech Expectations of Next-Gen Diners

For U.S. diners, personalization is and always has been a top priority, with 1 in 4 (25%) Americans wanting the ability to request the same waiter/waitress who already knows their food, drink and table preferences, and 1 in 5 (20%) diners wanting to book a reservation at a restaurant that could create a personalized menu for them based on their preferences.

In order to provide these experiences to guests, restaurants are strategically implementing new technology into their everyday operations. The challenge is in walking a fine line between implementing advanced technology the new generation of guests is comfortable using, while ensuring existing diners still feel the familiarity in these dining experiences, without noticing it running in the background. The report revealed that adoption of the new wave of these technologies is still in its infancy. In fact, Americans have just begun to embrace high-tech integrations that drastically enhance various aspects of their dining experience. Currently, six percent of Americans would use an AI-powered chatbot when researching a restaurant and 10 percent would use a voice-powered assistant when researching a restaurant. However, it’s expected to increase greatly, with a recent study citing that 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

Five years ago, social media wasn’t at all prevalent in the industry, yet today twenty-six percent of Americans would use social media to research a restaurant. Although only seven percent of people say they would use a virtual/augmented reality device to see the restaurant’s atmosphere before booking today, it’s clear that in the years to come, this advanced technology will make its way into diners’ everyday lives.

Understanding Audience Acceptance

Understanding the audience is crucial for the future of dining, particularly when integrating technology.

While some diners are still in the early stages of technology adoption, the millennial generation has been the most willing to adopt technology in their everyday lives, especially when it comes to restaurants. In fact, compared to Americans over 55 years old, millennials are:

  • Almost four times more interested in using a virtual/augmented reality device to research a restaurant
  • Three times more likely to want to place a restaurant reservation through social media
  • Three times more likely to favor card-less payments at a restaurant
  • Five times more likely to be persuaded by smart capabilities to book a reservation at a particular restaurant

Technology is a vital factor in how restaurants interact with their guests, both now and in the future, which makes it more important than ever to find the right balance between forward-thinking and familiarity. By evolving with their guests and enhancing the experience from behind the scenes, restaurants can deliver personalization at scale for everyone, leading to happy guests today and in the future.

Research Methodology

SevenRooms commissioned YouGov PLC – a third party, professional research and consulting organization – to poll the views of 1,108 individuals who agreed to take part. Fieldwork was undertaken online between April 3-4, 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

About SevenRooms

From neighborhood restaurants to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is a reservation, seating and guest management platform that empowers operators to create meaningful, direct relationships with guests that make exceptional experiences possible. Founded in 2011 in New York, and with over 4 million guests booked per month, SevenRooms gives operators the tools they need to own the customer relationship, boosting revenue and enabling personalized service and marketing.

Bianca McLaren
Senior Manager, Brand Marketing
P: +1-212-242-5607
E: [email protected]