Food is the real social network, more than Facebook, WhatsApp or WeChat. Restaurants are its platforms. If they are poorly hosted, they disappear. It takes more than “likes” to survive as a restaurant. It must be loved by its customers; it must convey the feeling of absolutely wanting to return.
Design, music, light, fragrance – it starts with first impression. However, many restaurant managers neglect these factors. It’s a costly error. In order to entice people away from eating at home, a restaurant must provide ambience that’s equally pleasant, or better.
To offer customers holistic and memorable dining, it’s crucial to hire competent staff. And the staff’s motivation is key to a restaurant's success. The restaurant operator must demonstrate the value of working there with real, comprehensible career opportunities. It's the only way to find and keep qualified staff.
The restaurant industry is inherently innovative. Especially because daily operations involve mastery in crisis mode, more attention is paid to future issues than in other industries. Innovation is part of a company's survival. But it should be even more more part of the corporate culture. Innovation is not about reinventing the world, it’s about improving the existing.
The future of the restaurant industry will be shaped by technological progress. Artificial intelligence could support restaurant managers in decision-making. Apps designed to prevent food waste are a positive consequence of new technologies, too. However, technology could pose challenges. In recent years, for example, online delivery has become a serious competitor for restaurants.
Satisfying customers' expectations has become more difficult; to offer fine food is no longer sufficient. It must be healthy and smart, served quickly by competent, friendly staff. Only then are guests motivated to eat out. Otherwise, the merely pretty restaurant will receive “likes”, while customer love will belong to the pizza delivery that provides good food – in a pleasant environment – within a short time.
This text is based on a summary presented by Christopher Muller, Professor at Boston University and Hosting Partner of EFSS, at the conclusion of the European Foodservice Summit on 25 and 26 September 2018.