What’s on the menu for beacon tech in the food industry?

These days, it's as though every restaurant is a test kitchen – not for new recipes or exotic cuisine, but for technology. There are instances of restaurants hoping to replace wait staff with tablets, going fully online for placing reservations, and leveraging digital signage to keep up with a changing menu and increasing appetites. But another gadget has found its way into restaurants everywhere and it has their managers salivating over the possibilities.

Beacon technology is already a staple in retail and it's no stranger to event coordination. Now, you can add restaurants to the list of establishments intrigued by what the devices have to offer. Let's take a look at three scenarios in which beacons are poised to thrive.

Beacons help your servers provide a great customer experience.
Beacons help your servers provide a great customer experience.

1. Bring in more first-time customers
Retailers already do this: Use beacons to reach out to those in the area who might not otherwise have dropped into the store. With restaurants, that function can be even more pronounced. How many times have you walked down a busy street, looking for a bite, and glanced at a few of the menus posted outside? What if that menu – or at least some portion of it – popped up as a notification on your device, ready for you to browse comfortably? Restaurants can attract more customers in the vicinity by sending a beacon alert with specials or daily deals. Or, take it a step further and let nearby patrons know just how busy you are – especially when a table just opens up.

2. Take the pressure off servers
Some restaurants want to get rid of wait staff altogether, but that doesn't seem like an industry-friendly solution. A good server can make a customer experience that much more enjoyable. But during the rush, even the best waiters and waitresses can feel the pressure. Beacons won't replace servers, but they can help them do their jobs. When a group is seated, servers can tell them to watch for a beacon alert that will describe the specials and any menu changes in detail and up to the minute. If the kitchen runs out of an item, the group won't have to wait until the last second to find out – they'll know right away. That builds a better experience and makes servers' lives easier.

3. Offer a custom experience
Beacons offer the most when the business can maximize the number of subscribers. If only a handful sign up, the beacon will have a limited effectiveness. Restaurants get a win-win scenario when they incentivize their beacon usage through deals, specials, lower prices or custom menu items. When someone accepts beacon notifications, that person will have access to a broader or more discounted menu than the average patron. As more sign up, the restaurant will have better insight into its operation through the data beacons can provide: peak hours, popular menu items, customer satisfaction and so on. NextRestaurant even suggests using beacons to give customers a mobile payment option.

Beacons are the ultimate marketing tool for restaurants because they provide a unique, effective way to push out promotions and notifications. But they aren't just a way to bombard your customers with spam – they can help you deliver the experience your patrons want. For more information on how beacons can drive your restaurant, contact the professionals at Digital Social Retail to schedule a demo.

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