For both the foodservice and hospitality industry, technology is a vital indicator of their successes. The 2021 RC Show which is a leading event at Canada’s foodservice and hospitality has brought up the topic of technology. Leaders within the industries have affirmed the great contributions made by technology within the pandemic.
As Vince Sgabellone, the Director of Client Development, Foodservice, from NPD Group said that “technology has changed how we buy things” (personal communication, Mar 1, 2021). Those leaders’ thoughtful presentations inspired me that innovative technology is changing how the industries operate businesses, people will see technology leads the development of industries in the future. So, the topic of this paper is, technology is the future trend of the foodservice and hospitality industry.
Recently, technology has assisted the development of the foodservice and hospitality industry. In the foodservice area, it mainly reflects on how people order food. A pen, a piece of paper made menu and a friendly waiter or waitress, this is the initial appearance how customers can order food from restaurants until smartphone and tablet appeared, “modern wireless device such as Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) has been adopted into restaurant system to replace the conventional way of taking orders using pen and paper” (Jakhete, & Mankar, 2015, p.23).
It increases the difficulty of training but from the standpoint of efficiency and customer experience, it worth it. The same thing in hospitality where reservations mostly moved from front desk to central data system, the rise of internet simplifies both reserves a room and payment sector. Thus, both industries are enjoyed the actual benefits brought by technology recently.
If technology was assisting the development of the foodservice and hospitality industry, now, during this pandemic, it is the mainstay of the industries. As Vince (2021) mentioned in his presentation, technology “provides multiple opportunities for consumers to access your brand”. Especially under this pandemic, people are looking for the safest and the most convenient way to purchase products and services.
In the foodservice industry, food delivery and drive-thru service play vital roles and show increasing popularity during the pandemic. When fewer people choose to dine in, these two have“revolutionized“(Steever et al, 2019, p.173) the foodservice industry in this special time in a special way.
In Melissa Wilson’s presentation (2021, Mar 1), she said technology is continuously involving and providing the certain solution to the industry such as the increasing number of phone application which enables customers order and pays on their cellphone and also curbside pickup option. Also, geofencing and other technologies are helping the industry seek the way of operating the businesses (personal communication). Same thing as hospitality.
Due to the nature of hospitality, all participants in this industry are considered a high-risk group. So, to ensure people’s safety, many hotels have their own COVID-19 Management Framework with the “implementation of digital and intelligent technologies” (Hao et al, 2020, p.10). Technology is here to support every instruction and step that will be well performed, in the meantime, “the pandemic has also accelerated the ad hoc implementation of video conferencing, cloud collaboration, and teleworking” (Hap et al, 2020, p.10).
To sum up, technology has somehow saved and supported the development of both industries during the pandemic. In the meantime, the implementation of those techniques also points out new growth opportunities for both industries as a future trend.
Technology is changing how the foodservice and hospitality industry operates in a couple of areas and it will lead the development of industries in the future as a trend. The following contents will talk about the reasons with examples.
In the future, technology will lead to the improvement of the foodservice industry’s efficiency which mainly reflects on two areas, they are “restaurant operation and management” (DiPietro, 2017, p.1208). In the area of restaurant operation, “future technology use will have to center on the customer (the end user) and the handheld or mobile devices that will connect the guest with the restaurant” (DiPietro, 2017, p.1209).
The direction of future development will focus on how to simplify the process within ordering and payment to reduce any difficulty that may exist when customers are experiencing the product and service from restaurants. The touchless payment is a great example, it removes the step of entering passwords as well as reduces the risk of spreading diseases.
as Melissa (2021, Mar 1) indicated that, in a post-pandemic world, people are showing an increasing concern for life quality as well as sensitivity to food safety. (Personal communication). So, in the future, whoever can offer safe and healthy food will have absolute competitiveness in the market.
For safety, this will lead by the food sourcing technology where numerous techniques such as cloud data, real-time tracking, electronic identification to live stocks will be involved. This aims to offer full accessibility of product information to reassure customers as well as bring businesses actual benefits on managing risk, optimizing specifications, understanding the value chain as Doheny et al (2017) mentioned in their research of sourcing in the food industry.
For healthy, it refers to add or reduce certain ingredients to add value to the food. For example, “removing or reducing anti-nutritive components that are present naturally in the food matrix; reducing food components such as fat, caffeine or calories; adding bioactive ingredients that offer health benefits; and increasing the number of essential nutrients present in food” (Hsieh & Ofori, 2007, p.71). With advanced technology, these functions will possibly move from professional laboratories or manufacturing plants to the back house of restaurants.
Furthermore, technology will also direct the development of hospitality in the future. As advanced technology renovates how people interact with all kinds of functions in hotels for example from cable to Wi-Fi, from physical buttons to a small touch screen, hospitality is stepping into industry 4.0 where the competition will be shaped and affected by “the adoption of IoT concepts and digitization of factories” (as cited in Dalenogare et al, 2018, p.383), therefore experiential marketing stands out in this wave of technology.
Hospitality, “the products of this industry are always experiential” (as cited in Yuan & Wu, 2008, p.387) and implement experiential marketing aims to create a delightful guest experience and “induce customer satisfaction” (as cited in Yuan& Wu, 2008, p.388).
For example, recently, static images give potential guests a general view of guestrooms, but with the virtual reality (VR) technology, the simulation offers an immersive experience that allows guests to browse every single cover within the rooms with only a few slides across the screen.
This is also considered as a dynamic experience for guests where modern technology plays an intermediate role between business and customers that transform hotel’s product and service into digital media, then advertises to customers.
[footnoteRef:1]With advanced technology, customers are also expecting a high-tech and low-tech experience which means all essential functions are highly concentrated in one website or application, it reduces customers’ difficulty in seeking the most valuable product and service for themselves, this could also be achieved by advanced technology in the future where “hotels should also endeavour to update channels to contact, attract, and sell to customers” (as cited in Hao et al, 2020, p.9). [1: (Hap et al, 2020, p.8)]
Furthermore, there is one more reason why technology will become the future trend of the foodservice and hospitality, it is the rise of millennials in the market. In Moore’s (2012) research on millennial consumers, it has been indicated that “the generation of consumers that is coming of age along with the proliferation of technology into nearly every facet of daily life is commonly referred to as The Millennial Generation” (p.436).
Millennials were born in an era of explosive growth in information technology which endows them the trait of tech-savvy and “more active at integrating technologies into their daily lives for marketing purposes” (Moore, 2012, p.441) compared to Generation X, the mainstay of the pervious consumer group.
Table 3: The relationship between technology and the foodservice& hospitality industry
In conclusion, there is a shift of what roles do technology has in the industries, from assist to support, from support to leading idea. In a post-pandemic world, advanced technology will lead the development of both the foodservice and hospitality industry due the increasing need for safe and healthy food from customers, delightful guest experience on the marketing sector and of course the change of main consumer group which is from Generation X to Millennials, there is a shift of consumer’s behaviours and preferences.
So, it is vital to consider technology as a major trend in the industries as well as an indicator to the success of businesses in the future.
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