It’s no secret: Millennials appreciate convenience and immediacy. And these days, they increasingly expect those advantages in the businesses they patronize, including restaurants.
Understanding those expectations is crucial, since history’s largest generation is expected to be spending $1.4 trillion annually by 2020, outpacing even well-to-do baby boomers. One recent study found the average millennial in the U.S. spends $174 each month eating out, calculating 87 percent will splurge on nice meals even when money is tight.
“Millennials are confident, optimistic, self-expressive multitaskers who can handle change and adversity,” notes a recent article from the National Restaurant Association. “Raised with cell phones and the web, they are technologically savvy. And restaurant marketers can’t underestimate that relationship with technology.”
Keeping on top of the marketing possibilities enabled by new technology can be challenging for restaurateurs — especially those who would rather focus on food quality. But investing in methods and gadgets that could ultimately improve your bottom line should at least be considered. Check out how upgrades in these six technology categories might improve your productivity, efficiency and/or profitability.
Online reservation booking systems: These are a win-win — convenient for both tech-savvy millennial diners and restaurant managers who want to better optimize seats and waitstaff. In one recent survey, 38 percent of U.S. consumers had made online reservations once or twice in a month’s time. And as of last year, OpenTable was seating 21 million diners across the world each month.
Mobile point-of-sale systems: Millennials appreciate the ease and convenience of instantly paying their checks table-side, and restaurants are increasingly using POS capabilities in conjunction with online ordering, loyalty programs, gift cards and CRM systems. “You can be smarter about how you distribute your labor. You may need one less server on the floor. You might not need a bar-back,” advises Kevin Sullivan of the advantages on toasttab.com. “The future of the restaurant POS system is that it will combine both customer-facing and restaurant-facing features, to create a fluid experience.”
Online delivery services: A survey last year showed 10 percent of U.S. consumers already pay for food delivery weekly. But on Techcrunch.com, Eric Kim writes about the huge untapped market for online food delivery services. “Previously undeliverable restaurants are becoming easily accessible for delivery,” he writes. “The $126 billion piece of the pie that was historically the domain of pizza is quickly becoming up for grabs.” The UberEATS division recently launched by transportation organization Uber, is already becoming a major player.
Digital wallets and other mobile payment services: Paying their checks through these secure new systems is a huge convenience for millennials, a mere 13 percent of whom lacked a mobile wallet app in a survey last year. Worldwide, such payments are expected to hit $721 billion this year.
Social media marketing: The upside is its cost-effectiveness; the downside its time-intensiveness. Still, restaurants are behind the eight ball if they’re not regularly posting on Facebook, Twitter and other sites frequented by the 60 percent of millennials who regularly follow favorite brands.
Wait-list technology: Customers appreciate apps allowing you to take their contact info, queue them up and contact them when their table is ready — increasing table turnover and saving time and frustration for all involved.
Talk to TriMark about other ways of gearing your restaurant toward the new generations.