Millennials are claiming their stake as the most engaged group of diners yet. They go out to dinner more often than their predecessors ever did, and subsequently, have rapidly emerged as a major buying power at restaurants. It’s an interesting (but occasionally difficult to navigate) territory that has rightfully garnered the attention of not only restaurants, but also consumer and hospitality technology companies alike.

Essentially, millennials’ digital habits are becoming increasingly ingrained in their everyday lives, creating a new type of consumer buying behavior. For instance, millennials are the most informed group to meet the market yet, and the restaurant industry is no exception to that rule. They are known for demanding high-touch, consistent communications and a plethora of available information while they are considering buying goods and services.

Since millennials have spent most of their adult lives in the age of information overload, they are also the most informed diners the industry has ever seen. Restaurants that are ahead of the curve are now working together with both consumer and hospitality technology to meet unparalleled levels of increasing demand. What converts? Thinking outside of the box and tapping into new spaces and tools that eliminate friction and make the decision-making process as easy as possible.

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First and foremost, it’s critical for restaurateurs to recognize the importance of millennials. To millennials food is suddenly “cool” again, which is fantastic news for the restaurant industry. Not only are they dining out at an unprecedented rate, but they also happily engage with restaurants beyond the dining room, which provides significant opportunity to improve a restaurant’s marketing reach. It’s important to understand what drives millennial’s decision-making process, from how they share their experiences on technology platforms to which consumer and hospitality technology companies are already setting the pace.

Savvy technology companies are playing the long game and have positioned themselves at the center of the market, attempting to serve as a platform for consumers and restaurants. These companies are constantly improving and learning from their users, whether that be helping diners navigate a menu and book a reservation, or on the back-end, learning to understand bottlenecks and friction points for restaurant operators. They have taken notice in the vulnerabilities of legacy companies like Yelp and Opentable and have identified a key factor in attracting restaurants and consumers — their desire for frictionless experiences.

It’s hard to predict what people want, especially when you’ve got a restaurant to run. Technology companies analyze troves of data and spend an enormous amount of time researching both consumers and restaurants. Companies are partnering to leverage each other’s technologies, to learn about the complexities of the markets they’re not as familiar with and to learn as much as they possibly can about the people that make those markets tick. As competition intensifies and demand steadily increases, the space between consumer and hospitality technology companies blurs, which turns out to be a great advantage for the entire market. Less options, but better, more useful products and most importantly, more insight.

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Successful technology companies in the hospitality space strive to lessen the load for their users and restaurants. They solve problems that need to be solved, improve processes and put diners in seats. On the consumer side, they streamline information, improve the ease of decision making and create frictionless experiences. Today’s digital world has made access to information readily available at our fingertips, providing diners, restaurants and technology companies alike with a plethora of new opportunities. However, it has also caused an oversaturation of options, consequently creating a tremendous amount of noise across the entire marketplace.

Diners react positively to technology companies that are making enhancements in the discovery space. Millennials have particularly grown tired of noisy incumbents and are turning to new discovery platforms that introduce elements of community and curation. They seek platforms that feel trustworthy. These platforms learn as much as they can about their users, ranging from spending habits and dish preference to reservation history. As they learn more, they’re able to serve up a handful of great options that make the decision making process easier rather than an endless list of options. It’s all about delivering a handful of options that match exactly what you want. It’s about understanding the psychological consumer nuances of a dish recommendation from a friend versus a review from a stranger and translating that to the digital space.

Technology companies are putting their data to great use and are helping both sides of the market along the way. They’re padding their products with positivity versus negativity, differentiating themselves and showcasing their trustworthiness with consumers. Restaurants massively benefit from these platforms. They’re playing the middle-man, essentially matching the right diner with the right restaurant. Restaurants gain insights on a by channel basis as to where their diners are coming from, how their experience was and how they’re sharing their experience across digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

What it all boils down to – restaurants need to push awesome food out the door and keep people coming back for amazing experiences. This new breed of technology companies share restauranteurs aspirations and are excited to offer solutions that bridge the gap between a new generation of diners and restaurants. These tech companies are working hard to build solutions that ensure that whether you’re the smallest, strangest restaurant in the world, doing something that only a few hundred people will love, or a big fan-favorite restaurant with a crazy celeb following, today’s “foodies” can find you. The rest is up to you.

 

About the Author:

Mike Williams is Director of Strategy at Wine n Dine.

Wine n Dine is home to the food community, giving the world a true taste of where the best eating experiences lie. The dish centric social discovery platform focuses on surfacing only the best restaurant recommendations in major cities around the world. Launching a beta app in 2015, Wine n Dine quickly struck a chord with hungry diners, with recommendations at over 75,000 restaurants in 6,200 cities and raised $2.5m in funding. It’s the pulse of food culture, a place where anyone can quickly discover and share the best dishes their city has to offer. Download the app and grab a seat at the table, www.winendine.com.