Hospitality Today Summer 2018 (#39) - Page 19

Page continued: “There is good news for restauranteurs. Millennials are dining out on average four times a month which is more than they are ordering in. In a competitive market the industry is using technology to attract new customers and deliver a better dining experience.” In restaurants, the technological improvement most wanted by millennial respondents is the ability to order food and drinks before arriving (47%), paying via an app (44%) and ordering food electronically at the venue (34%). This is already a reality at many venues. In response, 52% of restaurateurs have implemented technology to allow food and drink ordering in advance of arrival and 39% to let customers pay their bill online or through an app. 28% of restauranteurs intend to implement an interactive e-menu that shows food selections in 3D and nearly a quarter (23%) expect to introduce the option of dining with a virtual companion via an interactive screen, which fits with 20% of millennials thinking this would improve their experience. However, 76% of millennials still prefer the human touch throughout their dining experience, so this is not the beginning of total automation. They also place significant value on originality, with 53% rating a ‘new experience’ as an important feature when choosing a place to eat. Surprisingly, some technologies do not seem to resonate with millennials. Only 16% were positive about 3D virtual entertainment. By contrast, 28% of restaurants expect to implement 3D virtual entertainment in their restaurants within five years. 25% of millennials consider paying more at a restaurant if the social media ratings are excellent. Page concluded: “With such a large percentage of their income now coming from the millennial generation, restaurateurs need to ensure they | 19 are futureproofing their businesses now to cope with their desires and demands. “The tech savvy nature of the millennial group and their loyalty to a brand is of huge significance to the future of the industry, which must continue to adapt and to evolve to meet these new challenges.” Loungers to reach 140 sites by year end Loungers, the operator of 126 neighbourhood, café-bar-restaurants trading under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, recently announced a new opening programme. The Group, which comprises 104 Lounges and 22 Cosy Clubs, remains on track to reach 140 sites by the end of 2018. The Group has opened 12 new sites this year, and there are 25 new sites in the pipeline for 2018. Loungers say the business “continues to trade well in the current environment” and Lounger’s home-from-home, relaxed customer proposition - offering “great food and drink, all day, to an increasingly broad demographic” - continues to resonate with customers. Trading across both brands, in both mature sites and new openings “continues to be strong”. Loungers CEO Nick Collins said: “We are pleased with trading both in terms of our new openings and the consistent level of growth which we are achieving across both brands in our more established sites.”