Guests of the future will demand technology.

If you’re not doing business through a phone or tablet — whether it’s delivery, online ordering or even your tableside POS — you could find your business struggling, our panel suggests. Today’s customers are interacting with restaurants digitally — to order takeout and delivery, pay, rate the experience, provide preferences in advance — and they expect the industry to keep up.

Technology will automate traditional tasks.

Everything from inventory management to scheduling, payroll, taxes, and bill reconciliation will be more automated in the future. This means more need for tech support, cybersecurity, and managers and staff who are tech-savvy.

Innovation in many areas will drive productivity.

Big data will have applications for venues of all sizes, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow data to be collected in even more ways. Making data-driven decisions will expand into every area of the operation — although panelists do not see it as highly likely that customers will embrace data collection.

  • It will be commonplace for venues to accept mobile payments.
  • Handheld payment terminals that allow for pay-at-the-table will be commonplace.
  • The vast majority of takeout and delivery orders will be placed digitally.
  • The use of kiosks in limited-service venues will be commonplace.
  • Video menu boards in limited-service venues will be commonplace.
  • Turning point-of-sale (POS) data into actionable knowledge for operators will become easier.
  • Technology will be more effectively used to control costs and enhance management efficiency.

Strategic use of technology gives restaurateurs a competitive edge in operations and with customers.

Off-premises is a major driver of industry growth
As off-premises traffic and sales continue to grow, consumers will place a huge importance on experiential dining for on-premises occasions. Technology and data will become a greater focus as we adapt to growing consumer expectations in the on-demand world. Guests will expect a seamless digital experience and want their preferences known at each interaction with a restaurant.
  • A continued rise in delivery, virtual restaurants, subscription services, and grab-and-go at retail locations.
  • Cloud kitchens will continue to grow, fueled by the expansion of centralized kitchens and the growth of online, delivery-only brands.
  • Consumers may grow increasingly loyal to third-party delivery apps, impacting loyalty to individual restaurants.
  • Governments are likely to impose further regulation on third-party delivery.
  • Drive-thrus could need to accommodate interactions with self-driving vehicles.
  • The restaurants of the future will be smaller venues and will incorporate more automated kitchen equipment and layouts.
Nutrition and sustainability menus
Venues will need to adapt to evolving dietary restrictions and consumer preferences. Food trends and menus will naturally evolve to reflect the increasingly health-conscious, ecological mindset of the consumer focused on healthful options, food source-transparency and a commitment to sustainability .
  • Single-use restaurant packaging, including in delivery, will evolve.
  • AI with knowledge of cooking techniques, food chemistry, recipes, and alcohol could produce unexpected new culinary and beverage experiences.
  • Advanced genetic knowledge and lifestyle diseases are likely to create growing demand for meals that provide specific health benefits to diners.
The industry workforce is changing.        
Older adults are the fastest-growing demographic of employees, topping one million in 2020 for the first time. Population growth at an expected annual rate of 0.7% between 2018 and 2030, accompanied by changing demographics, and a slower labor-force growth rate of 0.5% annually between 2018 and 2028. Venues will continue to compete against other industries for talent, making recruitment and retention vital to success. Employers will adopt career-focused mentalities as operators enhance retention by offering benefits and long-term career paths to success.
  • Adults in the labor force 65 and older is expected to reach a record high of 16.1 million by 2028.
  • Teenagers in the labor force is expected to decline to 5.1 million by 2028, its lowest level in 65 years.
  • Operators will automate more routine back-of-house tasks to enhance productivity and efficiency.
  • Restaurants created middle-class jobs at a rate much higher than the overall economy in recent years.


OPERATIONS – Decrease Costs

  • Vendor & Inventory Management
  • Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Legal support
  • IT
  • Communications

PEOPLE – Empower Workforce

  • Health Checks
  • Booking Management
  • Staffing & Scheduling
  • Promoters
  • Ambassadors

GUESTS – Increase Engagement

  • Guest Experience
  • Customer Service

MARKETING – Increase Foot traffic

  • Social Media
  • Guest Apps
  • Guestlist Management
  • Reservations & Waitlist
  • VIP Tables & Ticketing

FINANCE – Increase Purchases

  • Digital Menu
  • Delivery & Customer Pickup
  • Mobile Ordering & payments
  • Payment Processing
  • POS Systems
  • Signage, Digital Displays

TECHNOLOGY – Expand Efficiencies

  • Service Automation
  • Robotics
  • AI conversations
  • IoT Devices

FOOD & BEVERAGE – Expand Offerings

  • Group Purchasing
  • Supplier Directory
  • Sustainability

MUSIC – Create Environment

  • Licensing
  • Jukebox

SECURITY – Safe & Secure

  • Anti-Microbial UV Lights
  • ID Scanners
  • Metal Detectors
  • Camera Systems