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The Tech That's Changing Restaurants as We Know Them

July 09, 2015

Imagine a world where when a restaurant opens up, it’s sold out for the entire month in just hours, or where every restaurant has automated tables that don’t require wait staff. That’s the present and future of restaurant reservation systems, thanks to new technology.

 The classic restaurant experience is slowly fading as new tech comes onto the scene. A major part of this revolution is a result of mobile technology.

“Mobile technology is revolutionizing the way diners interact with restaurants, for better and worse,” an article from the Wall Street Journal notes. “The ubiquity of smartphones can eclipse some of the very reasons we eat out: relaxation, discovery, camaraderie and a fleeting escape from our machine-driven lives.”


With a series of apps and internet access available every second of every day, the restaurant game is changing to accommodate. Here are just a few of the ways that technology is changing the restaurant business for the better.

 Point of Interest Apps

 Twenty years ago, if you wanted to find a great place to eat, you visited local spots. If someone didn’t recommend a new restaurant, most people didn’t venture out of their comfort zone, choosing to eat at the brands they recognized.

 Now, thanks to point of interest apps, you can find the food you’re craving within a 10-mile radius without talking to anyone. Apps such as Around Me, Yelp, and Foursquare will use your location to find the closest restaurants based on price, type of food, and reviews.  

 Online Coupons

Coupons are a great way for restaurants to attract customers, and customers no longer need to wait for the mail to get them. “In the past, restaurants distributed print coupons for their customers,” says a Valpak representative. “Today, many restaurants offer printable coupons ... These coupons work just like a regular coupon, but you can print them yourself.”

 The rise in popularity of online coupons is why many restaurants are growing in business. It creates a great brand impression! When a customer has an opportunity to save money through online coupons, they’ll generally choose that restaurant over others. It’s the best marketing scheme around, and it’s contributing to the number of consumers that eat out regularly.

 Reservation Ticketing Systems

 Online reservations are nothing new, but a new ticketing system is emerging that requires patrons pay for their meal and the seat upfront, kind of like the way you pay for a movie ticket before sitting down. This new system may seem strange, but it’s significantly helping restaurants keep their reservations under control.

 This new ticketing system increases the number of people who arrive for their reservation by about 10 percent, according to the New York Times. It helps restaurants avoid losing money due to unpaid reservations and creates a more relaxing and streamlined dining experience for the customer.

 Tablets at Every Table

 A major move towards restaurant automation is emerging in the form of tablets at every table. With these handy devices attached to the tabletop, customers can browse, order, and pay for their meals without waiting for their server. They can even play games like Angry Birds and Clash of Clans while they wait. If tech continues in this manner, it means less wait staff at every restaurant. 

 Not everyone likes this move away from traditional wait staff, but for restaurants, it means reduced overhead and quicker customer turnover. When customers serve themselves, they tend to order, eat, and leave faster, which means more space for new customers.

 Technology has pervaded the restaurant setting in a whole new way, laying the foundation for a brand new dining experience, and it’s only going to continue advancing. Right now, however, it doesn’t look like technology will move away from wait staff entirely, since consumers tend to enjoy the customized service it brings.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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