Why do people dine outside? To socialize with peers, to underscore own status and reaffirm the association with specific social strata (apologies for an anachronism, but you get what I mean) or type of occupation, to enjoy favourite or preferred food, to translate the message (with companions at the same table, to other visitors of the venue if going alone), and ultimately to get entertained and amused.
Entertainment and amusement.
Remember Roman “Bread and circuses!”? (If not — google please) In current time we can omit the original reference of the phrase to civil duties and read it literally in relation to the future of the F & B sector.
The competition in the sector will evolve among other things in the area of satisfying the innate desire of humans to get entertained, transferred to a different from home reality. And it will be almost equally applicable to all kinds of dining.
Now (soon) restaurants and cafes won’t be able to differentiate by:
Availability of online delivery
Quality and speed of delivery
What will differentiate:
Personnel engagement — online greeting, small talk, instead of chatbots. The one-click ordering worked marvellously when we all were on a go. But now and in foreseeable future people being stuck at home most of the time and tired of people surrounding them — wish to be “out” and interact with strangers — e.g. a host at their favourite restaurant
Immersion in the experience of food preparation — the personality of a chef that you suddenly get access to. He is interacting with you, he has character, he engages you in a journey by conversing with you while cooking, he might just mesmerize you and say nothing but ultimately he creates an engaging experience for you
Ordering online is an experience that allows a customer to socialize, to interact with others. For fine dining — a piece of gracious information, a small sophisticated update on the latest news for a gourmand or a wine connoisseur like you.., family dining — can there be a service to entertain children while parents are having food?
And that’s what will happen:
F&B will learn to open the doors and greet customers digitally. More “human elements” will be injected into a heavy digital experience. A set of new technology solutions will be (is being) developed for that: when customers are greeted by a host (“oh.. You are regular!”, “Oh.. You haven’t been with us before..” indeed).
When customers get to see a chef cooking and maybe interacting with you (and we are not talking of Michelin level chefs, remember — entertainment, amusement, charisma… Most of us can actually recall a grocery shop assistant who among many others — “is a true character and he/she always makes my day”.
When customers might even meet other visitors to the restaurant who are waiting in a virtual queue while waiting for their order to be prepared.
Not every business will be transformed this way and the concepts we know today will exist. Yet the margins -
this is one of the areas from where the vanished margins would come.
If you’d like to discuss the concept, play with it further — let’s talk.