Part Two: Industry Tech Trends From the 2nd Annual Restaurant Innovation Summit

Foodable was right in the middle of the action at the 2nd Annual Restaurant Innovation Summit and in our part one article about industry technology trends from the summit–we took a up-close look at the hot topics of evolving mobile platforms and social media marketing.

But, there is so much more to cover. So let's take a look at some other trending topics from this year's Restaurant Innovation Summit. 

Collecting Consumer Data and Loyalty Programs

The focus of this year’s summit was on data alchemy. Collecting customer information has always been important to brands because the better you understand the customer, the better you can identify their needs and wants. Technologies such as mobile apps, loyalty programs, venue bacons– have enabled businesses to collect a remarkable amount of data about their customers.

“When you think about the science of data and analytics, anyone can run regression models, but it is really knowing what that data is saying,” said Stowe Shoemaker, Professor and Dean of William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, UNLV. Understanding your consumer data means understanding your customers. A brand can take this knowledge and strengthen customer relationships and loyalty programs. “The big data allows us to improve the process, add points of value, and communicate in a way that the customer goes ‘wow they really do know me’ and ‘I want to be loyal to them,” said Shoemaker.

The Millennial Effect

Paul Barron speaks to industry Expert Hudson Riehle at the 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit | Foodable WebTV Network 

Paul Barron speaks to industry Expert Hudson Riehle at the 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit | Foodable WebTV Network 

The millennial generation has proven to be restless, but this large portion of the market will have the most buying power in the next few years. “Now you got this emerging consumer demographic and they are just constantly rotating brands like playing cards, so it has become very hard for an operator to retain that connection,” said Paul Barron, Foodable WebTV Network Founder and Executive Producer.

When it comes to loyalty programs, it is important to not push aggressively with this group, instead let the millennials determine what they want. “Its giving them choices that they want and you know that they want. That they have the ability to self manage when they redeem them and how to redeem them,” said Adam Reed, Regional Director of Marketing at Raising Cane’s. “So its about giving up a little bit of control and the freedom back to the customer.”

Mobile Payments

The launch of Apple Pay this October has ignited discussions and predictions about the future of payments and if consumer will really start using mobile payments. “We did some recent research about apps for mobile payments and out of those with tablets and smartphones, roughly about a third said that they would be likely to use it and that is a sizable number,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research and Knowledge at National Restaurant Association.

Paul Barron speaks to industry Experts Brad Brodigan, Sarah McCrary and Phillip Kumnick at the 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit | Foodable WebTV Network 

Paul Barron speaks to industry Experts Brad Brodigan, Sarah McCrary and Phillip Kumnick at the 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit | Foodable WebTV Network 

Restaurants, specifically smaller operators will only offer this form of payment, if they see consumers demanding it as a payment option. “If we are going to see sustained adoption, if we are going to move beyond press releases into everyday use of mobile payments by consumers day in and out, we have to solve real world problems,” said Brad Brodigan, Vice president of Retail at PayPal. “And real world problems for consumers are- ‘Are you making my payment experience better?’ ‘Are you helping me save time? ‘Are you helping me save money?’ ‘Are you making my life more convenient?”

These technologies are revolutionizing the restaurant industry. They will continue to enhance the consumer dining experience, but brands and restaurant operators will have to consistently do their research and keep up in order to compete in the crowded marketplace.