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Can Tablets in Restaurants Kill the Personal Touch?
Or does the embracing of technology change the way hospitality and catering industries operate?
The major concern of restaurant owners about implementing modern technology is the specific nature of food service industry and the possibility to compromise the service. People go out eating for several reasons - to escape the routine of home dining, to build and maintain social relations, to celebrate an occasion - and they all suppose some personal attention and human touch to be involved in the process. So the big question seems to be whether the introduction of e-menus, table-mounted tablets and digital services will destroy the human aspect of the foodservice industry.
"Generally, technology must be the facilitator, to enable restaurant staff to provide better service, to entertain and perform if you wish." says Vyara Markova, Online Marketing manager of Clock Software, in regards to the official launch of their restaurant POS software - Clock POS. "There is no objective reason to consider modern technology as the killer of human service as it won't serve the food or smile at the guest instead of you." she adds, "It is all a question of adequate implementation and when done in the right way, it could only be of help. We first offered guest-facing technology in our hotel management system, Clock PMS, and the feedback so far is excellent. It's how we expected it to be, because we made our homework very well. We read a lot of researches and studies on hospitality technology and one of the common conclusions in all of them was that end customers seek and expect technology to be more widely present in the way they consume services. And all the resources pointed out that entrepreneurs lag behind the trend thus missing valuable opportunities. So in Clock POS we keep the same approach - wide range of features, flexibility and customization, strict but not restrictive control functions and last but not least - a lot of opportunities for restauranteurs to impress and engage with their customers through the POS system itself and using modern devices, including clients' own phones and tablets."
Many recent studies show that there is a serious gap between the expectations of end consumers and the intentions and actions of entrepreneurs. For some reason, many businesses hesitate to implement customer-centric technologies. Perhaps this is due to their fear that this would destroy the unique personal relationship with the client, which is so typical for the hospitality and foodservice industries. However, with some major hotel chains announcing the introduction of digital check-in, room selection, even the usage of mobile phones as room keys, this trend will probably change in the near future.
Nowadays, food service goes beyond the property itself, it starts at the moment of making the purchase decision and can continue after the client has left the site and consumed the requested services. People got used to manage everything from their phones - bank accounts, flights, cinema seats. It becomes a way of life for most people, so every industry should comply. Moreover, technologies are designed to automate the routine procedures and to remove the part of the interaction between customers and staff that is boring or time-wasting.
"Yes," says Markova, "here is an example: you want to book a table in a restaurant. You call and begin to explain to the person on the other end what table you need - where, for how many persons, in a quiet corner. Alternatively, you can open the table map of the restaurant online, choose your table and book it with one click. How is human contact better in this case? Or maybe a waiter with a pen and a notebook, bringing paper sheets for each new order and taking your credit card away to settle the payment, is preferable to the one that comes with a tablet in his hands to show you the menu and take your order, that will talk to you while the order "flyes" to the kitchen printer, and who will finally complete your payment right on the spot without you losing sight of your credit card? It is not only food that matters in a restaurant. It is also important how the business is presented in a whole. And a tablet can combine several roles - it can display your menu in an attractive way, but also play an intriguing chef video or provide interesting information about the product of the month. Our goal was to create a flexible restaurant software with as many options as possible, and then let restauranteurs choose the functionalities that will help them to offer the best service, consistent with the nature of their business."
After all, eating facilities vary in type of food served, location, working time, interior, theme, customer profile. Each manager should do their own research taking into consideration each of these factors in order to define the perfect number and type of services that will be well accepted by the clients and will help to increase the business bottom line. Yet by neglecting the modernization opportunities that technology providers offer in response to end customer requirements, some establishments may suddenly find themselves outperformed by more farseeing and progressive companies.
About Clock Software (http://www.clock-
Clock Software develops advanced cloud hospitality management systems for hotels and restaurants, as well as other industry-related software products, under the brand Clock. Clock POS is an online restaurant software that can be integrated with the hotel management system Clock PMS or be used as a standalone solution in table service restaurants and bars. Find out more at: http://www.clock-