Leading-Edge Tech Trends Coming to Restaurants

By: Gina Lee De Freitas

Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it is giving restaurants new opportunities practically daily. Today, ordering online and picking up in a store, or ordering online for third-party delivery is the norm. Loyalty programs have already been transformed by mobile payments and apps.

Some newer, exciting trends are just on the horizon and have the potential to revolutionize the industry. Here’s what’s ahead:

 Voice Search

Voice search is the future of search, and voice-activated search speakers are already outpacing smartphone adoption. Restaurants and chains would be wise to explore its implications on their businesses now. It is estimated that 55 percent of people will have a voice search speaker by 2022.

There are many ways voice search will transform the restaurant industry: People will search for restaurants’ locations through their speakers. Diners will search for events – “Sunday brunch near me” or “happy hour on a rooftop” – with voice, so eateries will need to prepare in order to be included in results. Restaurants that deliver, either on their own or through third-party delivery services, will need to make sure they are optimized for voice searches.


Virtual and augmented reality technology is being used to enhance employee training. Training employees on culinary and dining room practices can be extremely expensive when done individually and in small groups, but the quality of learning and even employee retention suffers when training is done in mass groups.

Enter VR and AR. Some restaurants today and many more in the future can create realistic, detailed virtual dining rooms and commercial kitchens to train workers both effectively and efficiently.

VR and AR can also be used to enhance diner interaction with restaurants and their offerings through creative marketing. Two examples: A restaurant in Chicago created a virtual tour featuring a liquor it served, and a high-end restaurant in Ibiza, Spain created a number of experiences marrying technology and its meals, including VR skydiving and a world tour for diners wearing VR specs.

Facial Recognition

Restaurants continue to work toward self-service, increasing their use of kiosk ordering and mobile ordering and mobile payments. What’s next? Facial recognition technology.

Diners at a KFC store in eastern China can use “Smile to Pay” technology at the concept store, which is exploring ways to attract a younger generation of diners.

The emerging technology raises privacy concerns with many, but if it can overcome those fears, facial recognition has the potential to become a major force for payments and loyalty programs.

Few restaurants can – or should – be early adapters in expensive technological changes such as VR or facial recognition. But the ones that are aware of the advances in technology and what’s ahead for the industry can start exploring and experimenting with leading-edge tech now to be ahead of the pack in the near future.











About Butts in Seats!

When it comes to restaurant trends and marketing, IMM knows what they are talking about. Gina Lee De Freiitas, President of IMM, and Corien de Jong, SVP Executive Creative Director, have more than 25 years of experience in the vertical. So when they talk about the tools, tips and resources your restaurant needs to succeed, rest assured they’ve got it covered.

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