• Increased interaction with guests through their smartphones and other personal devices will mean enhanced customer relationship management and business intelligence capabilities, observers said.
• Digital wallets or other alternative payment schemes will be used in restaurants, said Joe Tenczar, senior vice president of information technology and chief information officer for Hard Rock International in Orlando, Fla. In addition, improved mobile device menu presentations will include more information, such as nutrition and ingredient details. Geo-targeting for prospective customers and loyalty program members also is likely by 2020, he said.
• Next-generation mobile apps will continue to serve consumers even when they are not in the issuing brand’s restaurants by providing such value-added touches as recipes or preparation technique videos for home cooks, or food-and-wine pairings, Burrus said. These will prove “stickier” than single-purpose apps and will foster better relationships with guests while providing a direct connection with consumers through which special offers and other marketing messages can be relayed, he said.
• In the front of the house at some restaurants, biometric scanners, video cameras and other hardware supporting voice, retina or face recognition software programs will help service teams quickly identify repeat guests or loyalty program members, or simplify guest self-log-in for rewards tracking or redemption.
“In the U.S. in the next two to three years, I hope to see face recognition [capabilities] at the host stand,” Wow Bao’s Alexander said.
“Customer relationship management continues to be high on the lists of anyone seeking to serve their clients, [and] it may take the form of mature license plate identification at the valet, which triggers a favorite table preparation and drink setup for high-end patrons,” said IHL’s Holman.