This week Wanstor attended Restaurant Tech Live at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London. For those of you who have not heard of the event, it is Europe’s largest exhibition dedicated to the emerging technology and services that are forming the future of the restaurant industry. The event provides a great insight into the different dining trends of tomorrow and gives restaurant, hotel and hospitality venue managers, directors and owners the opportunity to find the latest products, services, and systems, from across the globe all in one place. In summary the event brings together over 200 cutting edge technology suppliers with thousands of restaurant businesses from across the UK.
If you haven’t attended the event before, the real value is the vast amount of networking opportunities it offers. Wanstor met a number of existing and new customers at the show. What was interesting from the conversations we had with customers, was a lot of restaurant owners and managers being drawn towards the latest and greatest gadgets, apps and EPOS systems to try and differentiate their restaurant brand against the competition. At Wanstor we concluded the reasons why restaurants are looking at investing so heavily in front of house technology to improve the customer dining experience is down to:
- Extremely fierce competition on the high street caused by aggressive roll out plans by the big chains
- Customer expectations around choice, quality and consistent service rising substantially over the past 3+ years
- Household spend for dining and leisure activities remaining stagnant – meaning restaurant companies having to work harder to capture a share of wallet
- Cost pressures in the supply chain putting pressure on restaurants profit margins as ingredients and operational costs are increasing
- Problems attracting and retaining the right front of house staff to enable a great dining experience for customers
From the conversations we had with a variety of restaurant customers at the event around these areas, we understood why front of house restaurant technology is really starting to be seen as a differentiator in this market. The above points were all touched upon during keynote speeches from experts who own, manage and run restaurant chains such as Friska, Pizza Hut, Tossed, Carluccio’s and Jamie’s Italian. Each of the keynote speeches given helped the audience to further develop their deep understanding of this fast moving marketplace. This was reflected in the titles of the talks which included – How to engage your target market better, Loyalty & Customer Engagement, the “Digital Customer Journey” and Food and Beverage Technology Trends.
However one thing which was really noticeable to Wanstor, was how many restaurant businesses are overlooking the fundamentals of IT to implement the latest and greatest gadgets, apps and EPOS systems to try and stay ahead of the competition. Instead of starting with the end user in mind many restaurant businesses are simply deploying new technology in the hope it will help them to deliver a great dining experience. The fact of the matter is, this approach of simply buying and deploying the latest technology could in fact be setting up a restaurant business to fail.
In Peter Lukes (Wanstor’s Managing Director) speech he touched upon the fact that if you are deploying new front of house technology in your restaurant, the right IT management and support model must be in place. Peter also mentioned that Wanstor have seen a number of restaurant customers deploying new front of house technology without the right IT management and support models being in place. In several cases this had resulted in lost transactions, poor staff productivity and customers not receiving the service they expect. Peter’s advice was to always ask the question – “What is the impact going to be on my IT infrastructure, if I am deploying new front of house technology?” If the answer is you don’t know, Wanstor suggests the IT teams take the time to speak to their IT Managed Service Provider who can give them the insight into what the impact may be. The IT Managed Service Provider will also be able to proactively put in place systems and processes which mean restaurants can keep trading even if something goes wrong.
Overall the event was a great success for Wanstor, its partners (PRTG & Fujitsu) and a wide range of restaurant customers we had conversations with. We learnt a great deal from different restaurant and industry experts, swapped ideas with other technology firms and helped a number of our customers think about the impact of IT on their restaurant operations. We look forward to attending Restaurant Tech Live in 2018 and hope to see you there!