At Remington College, we’re very familiar with the culinary industry. We work with aspiring cooks and food service managers with our Culinary Skills Essentials; Culinary Management; and Restaurant, Hospitality, and Retail Management programs.
But we also like to eat! Many of our staff members and instructors enjoy going to a wide variety of restaurants and trying everything from tacos to filet. During the pandemic, restaurants faced unique challenges to operations, supply chain and staffing, and like many consumers, we noticed.
While those hoping to enter the culinary industry will likely confront these trends and more, we wanted to put together a list of how some of the changes in the industry will affect the average consumer. Read more below.
Expect to see more loyalty programs
When COVID-19 hit, many things changed for restaurants. They had to figure out how to serve customers safely, and the take-out market was quickly crowded. Restaurants also suddenly lacked the face-to-face connection they took for granted in the past.
One solution? The resurgence of loyalty programs, which gave restaurants a direct line to their best customers. And they seem to work. According to QSR Magazine, a study from Bluedot showed that 69 percent of respondents said loyalty platforms bring them back to a restaurant.
Because they are driving results for restaurants, consumers can expect to see these programs continue and grow. Especially effective are programs that allow consumers to bank points and “spend” them on items of their choice, but foodies everywhere can expect to continue to see any program that personalizes the customer experience.
Healthier options will appear on more menus
Active lifestyles and a focus on wellness were already big trends in 2019. With a global pandemic tossed in the mix, this trend appears to be here to stay. It’s no surprise that quick-service restaurants are typically perceived as less healthy options than their sit-down restaurant counterparts. But in light of the wellness movement that is thriving among consumers, these restaurants are doing what they can to keep up.
Consumers can expect to see an emphasis on fresh and high-quality ingredients, as well as nutrient-driven items. Some brands are even touting the effects certain ingredients can have on wellness. Finally, customers can expect convenience, but also more choice and control over what goes into what they eat.
Technology and contactless ordering are here to stay
The COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to invest in years of technology improvements within a few months. One example of this is the increase seen in self-ordering kiosks. Self-ordering kiosks are a technology that connect to the point-of-sale system and allow customers to place their own order and process their own payment, while information is sent directly to the kitchen.
The benefit? Consumers can get faster service with fewer face-to-face touch points and better order accuracy. Restaurants, too, see benefits with less staff time taken up and an increase in average check values from highlighted upgrade and promotion options. With win-win aspects, customers can expect to see this and other technology upgrades in eateries.
As restaurants change and evolve, so too does the consumer experience. Those in the industry need to listen and react to what consumers want, while innovating to continue to create unique and convenient experiences.