We have scoured the web and talked to hospitality operators to put together a list of the top trends that will dominate the restaurant and food service industry in 2016. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the most important trends for the New Year have nothing to do with food, and a lot to do with technology and its applications.
The moment of healthy food
More and more diners are demanding good, wholesome food. Many people – more than one in three and growing, according to recent research - are worried about chemicals in their food; 7 in 10 people say they avoid GMO in their food and beverages whenever they can. The clean food trend shows no sign to stop in 2016. The first organic, vegetarian drive-thru has recently opened in the US, and more fast casual restaurants are following suit. In 2016 this tendency will grow even more widespread, as more casual and fast-casual food establishments – from cafés to quick service restaurants – will focus on serving fresh, healthy food.
Go in to shop, stay for dinner
From Nordstrom to Armani to Urban Outfitters to Whole Foods, in the past few years we have seen more and more retailers turn into restaurateurs. By adding a café or restaurant to their stores, retailers are managing to increase foot traffic and convincing customers to spend more time and money in their store premises. In 2016 there will be even more blurring of the lines between stores and restaurants, as food services will add retail items for sale while retailers will increase the number and types of spaces where customers can sit down and have a bite in-store.
Automation everywhere, both in front and back of house
Customers, millennials in particular, expect restaurants to offer quick, high-quality, tech-friendly service. In 2016 automation will continue in the front of house with mobile orders and payments becoming even more widespread. The real revolution, though, will take place in the back of house. Smart appliances in the kitchen, such as remotely controlled ovens and intelligent fryers that warn when the oil needs to be changed, will increase productivity and cut costs. Data from next-generation kitchen appliances is already used by forward-thinking operators in the industry to improve efficiency and decrease waste. Smart appliances also help restaurants save money on labor costs as they reduce the need for low-qualified staff to perform manual tasks. According to analyst firm Gartner, by 2020 smart kitchen appliances will contribute to at least 15% savings in the hospitality industry.
Focus on skilled staff
As staff costs rise, it is important for restaurateurs to implement cost-effective solutions. In 2016 this will mean employing fewer, but more highly skilled staff members. Menial but time-consuming jobs, which in the past would have been done by low-skill, low-pay staff member, can now be done with machines. We therefore expect to see increasingly large investments in late-technology tools that will help speed up and improve the service, both in the front and back of house.
As staff becomes more specialized and qualified, we can expect restaurateurs to invest more time in training their employees, so that restaurants can gain an edge by offering the best and most professional customer service.
High-speed home delivery
In 2015 Amazon and Uber disrupted the whole hospitality industry by creating a new model of food delivery, which disconnects the delivery operators from the producers of food. The high-speed home delivery trend shows no signs to slow down in 2016, as more delivery service providers – from Yelp to Google to many startups - are entering the food market. This change could become a true revolution for restaurants: experts predict that people will increasingly choose their home dinner based on which options their favorite delivery service provides. Forward-thinking restaurateurs will partner up with high-speed delivery operators to ensure they are part of this new, evert-expanding trend.
Tech all around
Technology will continue reshaping the hospitality industry in 2016. Some of the most important trends will be:
Increased use of geo-location, to make it easier for customers to reach restaurants;
Mobile payments all over, in the restaurants as well as through mobile apps;
Restaurant will strengthen their social media presence and their mobile and digital marketing, to reach the younger generations of consumers;
Tabletop ordering through tablets, which gives customers more control and reduces the need for waiting staff;
Increased spending in BI and other analytics tools to understand and utilize the data that smart appliances will increasingly produce;
Real-time inventory reordering straight from the kitchen: a useful tool that optimizes replenishment and ensures fresher ingredients.
The hospitality industry is moving quickly, and latest technology is increasingly necessary to stay ahead of the competition. In the new year, will you be one of the companies that create new trends? Or will you be following in someone else’s footsteps, lagging behind the leaders?
If you need help with getting ahead in the industry, drop us a line.
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