People learn in different ways – and the tools you use to reinforce food safety skills can help you make the lessons stick. Restaurant Technology News suggests using virtual reality headsets to role play different scenarios with staff. Having them take part in exercises that feel real can help muscle memory kick in. Ongoing reinforcement is helpful too – and leveraging their smartphones can help you make sure they always have the information they need. Send employees reminders and just-in-time updates via their phone, or simply allow them to use their phone to access a bank of helpful food safety information when they have questions.
Experience is everything in restaurants right now – and a key part of how you demonstrate your value to guests. If you have a technology-forward brand, consider using virtual or augmented reality to offer an experience that makes guests crave your food. Maybe it could be a tour of your restaurant, a virtual cooking class or a 3D preview of a dish on your menu. Restaurant operators can work with a tech provider on a plan tailored to their business, or even use tools like virtual reality headsets or augmented reality apps to help.
It used to be a whole lot simpler: Restaurants were valued as places where consumers could share a meal and connect with people. While that is still the case, the pandemic has turned the idea on its head. Whereas the early months of the pandemic made it necessary for this “coming together” to happen at home or virtually in an effort to keep business flowing, many foodservice operators – along with complementary brands – are now redefining what it means to gather, even as dining rooms fill back up again. A new food-and-drink-trends report from Mintel mentions the increase of online hubs that offer ecommerce, brand-specific communities and opportunities to socialize virtually. Some restaurants are already well on their way: As reported by The Spoon, Chipotle recently created a Halloween promotion in partnership with the online game platform Roblox. Roblox gamers could enter a virtual Chipotle restaurant (specially decorated for Halloween) and collect a promo code good for a free burrito back in the real world. Granted, such partnerships may well be more feasible for major brands than small independents, but the example shows how the idea of coming together over restaurant food is being reimagined for the current times. How might you reimagine what it means to create memorable experiences for your guests?
Back in June, the National Restaurant Association named virtual gift cards on a list of restaurant tech tools that it predicted would best support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic. Virtual gift cards – as opposed to the plastic ones that clutter a person’s wallet – make contactless, fast payment possible, so they’re well suited to these times. Further, since more than 70 percent of gift card recipients spend more than the face value of their cards, according to research from Givex, they can help lift check totals. Are you offering and promoting virtual gift cards on your website, app and social media platforms?
Virtual waitlists have benefits that can not only help you manage safety regulations now; they can also provide permanent benefits if consumers are open to using them post-pandemic. If you haven’t used them before, they are like reservations systems in that they let people add themselves to a list online and allow you to let them know when to arrive, so they can avoid a long line at your restaurant. This frees up your staff to wait tables or bring food outside for curbside pickup. What’s more, virtual waitlists allow you to have guests pre-order and pre-pay to limit interaction with staff and minimize their wait. That means fewer no-shows and faster table turns for you.