Can a Tech Dining Experience Increase the Millennial’s Appetite to Eat Out More?


Results from a new survey on millennial behaviours has revealed  the UK restaurant sector needs to re-think and re-shape the restaurant dining experience through technology, if they want to beat the preference for home delivery.

Commissioned by the Food People, the research shows a shift of around £1 billion a year to delivery services, previously spent on dining out, by the all-important Millennial market.

A fifth of millennials (20% compared to 9% Gen X), say they go out less to restaurants now because they are getting more food delivered that they would previously have gone out to eat. This represents a shift worth around £1 billion a year towards food delivery and away from in-restaurant dining.

Only 9% of millennials now say they are likely to make restaurant bookings and are willing to spend on average 14% less than Gen X on a meal.

So how do we make our instore dining experiences so appealing to Millennials they want to invest time and money eating out?

Creating Unique dining experiences


Millennials believe that “a new experience” is an important feature when choosing a place to eat. According to a report by CMS, 53% of respondents, with 52% saying they value unique food and 36% that they would pay more for outstanding service in a restaurant.

This is where QSR chains such Tossed, have gained market share and increased revenue through the creation of an unrivalled self-serve kiosk experience. This has not only increased perceived meal value but importantly boosted customer service through increased staff productivity.

And it’s not just self-serve through kiosks that is beginning to creep in to dining experiences. AR and wearables are close to making their appearance, enabling a new-generation ordering application based on AR enabling guests to “sit down” to a virtual meal as part of the menu selection.  It might sound a bit futuristic, but Wagamama is already using augmented reality to allow diners to scan their placemats with smartphones to virtually visit music festivals, watch art being made, explore menu details, vote for their favourite dishes and “like” Wagamama on Facebook.

And it’s not just self-serve through kiosks that are beginning to creep into dining experiences. AR and wearables are close to making their appearance, enabling a new-generation ordering application based on AR enabling guests to “sit down” to a virtual meal as part of the menu selection.  It might sound a bit futuristic, but Wagamama is already using augmented reality to allow diners to scan their placemats with smartphones to virtually visit music festivals, watch art being made, explore menu details, vote for their favourite dishes and “like” Wagamama on Facebook.

Social Matters


The rise of the unique and “tell all” interior is also a great experience being used to get Millennials not only visiting restaurants but also sharing them on Social media. A Venue with a visual story such as Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records, not only gives guests superb customer service, quality and original menu but importantly an environment and décor for visually powerful imagery for Instagram story telling that dinners just love to post and share about.

And with 25% of millennials saying they will pay more at a restaurant if its social media ratings are good, getting your restaurant ripe for social sharing and reviews is essential.

Customised Ordering Is the New Norm


Millennials are totally digital native and have grown up in a world of digital choice. And they are fast expecting menus to give them a truly customisable menu.  That’s why customisable fast casual chains like Subway, Five Guys and Tossed are so successful because they give diners a chance to create a unique custom dish according to their tastes. The rise of the self-serve digital menu will open unlimited opportunities for this, along with unique order accuracy and increased revenue through upselling of products and ingredients.

The Ethical and Health Priority


Millennials and Gen Z and Y have a different outlook to many of their predecessors. The era of health and moral consciousness is firmly here. Many restaurants are resonating and appealing to this audience, by providing quality and ethically sourced ingredients; digital technology to inform customers of full and accurate nutritional, sourcing and ingredient information; promoting a food wastage policy; and encouraging eco-friendly practices.

Research has found that millennials want more fruits and vegetables on the menu. Many restaurants are now offering more plant-based choices and additional fruit and vegetable side options to meet the customer’s needs.

In fact, the Vegan Society found that there are over half a million vegans in Britain. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52% of organic consumers are millennials; they are also said to consume 52% more vegetables than previous generations.

The popularity of veganism has increased demand for “plant-based meats” which refers to using plant-based ingredients to create foods that typically contain meat.

Self-serve Technology


The technology improvements most wanted by millennial respondents of the CMS report reflect very much the success of the McDonalds self-serve strategy:

  1. The ability to order food and drinks before arriving (47%)
  2. Paying via an app (44%)
  3. Ordering food electronically at the venue via kiosk or tablet (34%).
  4. Food from their phone before they get to the restaurant.

Self-serve technology brings new opportunities of immersive digital instore customer journeys which can go beyond just food ordering and queue busting. It opens a channel to facilitate social sharing, personalization, the limitless opportunities of AI and AR, food and nutritional information, customisable menus and the creation of a physi-digital instore environment that offers the convenience, speed, service and experience the Millennial customer demands.

Technology is the driver and shaper of Millennials, Gen Z and Y  –  and all future generations. Today and tomorrow’s restaurant experience must be firmly embedded in new, creative and agile technology. Kiosks are just the start of a whole new customer experience.

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Steven Rolfe

Steven Rolfe

CEO at Kurve - leading the way in Restaurant Kiosk and Self-Serve solutions