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5 Ways Your Restaurant Experience Will Change in 2016

5 Ways Your Restaurant Experience Will Change in 2016
Image credit: rmnoa357 | Shutterstock
Guest Writer
Startup Advisor, Freelance Writer and Marketing Specialist
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Business have to continue to evolve if they expect to stay relevant. Advances in technology and app integration are no longer bonus features -- they’re necessities.

Restaurants are not immune from these advancements either. Just like other businesses, they have to adapt and grow to continue to bring in new business. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the things we expect to see happen in the restaurant business in 2016, and --surprise, surprise -- many of them revolve around mobile apps and payment methods.

Related: Invoice Organization Made Easy: This Cloud-Based Solution Was Created in 2 Weeks

1. Ordering and prepaying for your food

Some of the biggest inconveniences about sit-down restaurants is all the wait times associated with them. Apps like Allset are looking to help you with those pesky wait times, in reservations and beyond. While on the surface, Allset might look like just another reservation app, there is much more there once you pop up the hood.

While making your reservations can be a huge time saver, it can only help with the long waits -- and only so much. One of the added benefits of Allset is that it also allows the restaurant to serve the food on your time and have it ready for you when you arrive. Another huge time saver -- perfect if you’re trying to have a nice lunch during a work lunch break.

To round out the trifecta, Allset will even allow you to pay for your meal directly on the app. No longer will you have to wait for your receipt and time needed for credit card processing. The app is really just focused on letting you enjoy everything about a nice, sit-down restaurant without having to assign hours of your day to do it.

Since its launch three months ago, Allset has signed over 100 restaurants in San Francisco and Bay Area. Restaurants seem to be excited working with Allset and seeing the app bring in new customers, speed up table turnover and a 30 percent increase in lunch sales.

2. Finding your way to the perfect restaurant

There are a lot of choices when it comes to where you can eat. Especially in bigger cities, where new restaurants and cafes seem to pop up hourly. Finding the perfect place to eat is becoming easier as apps continue to dominate our phones.

Apps like Yelp and UrbanSpoon are a great way to find restaurants that you may not have been familiar with. Using these apps, you’ll be able to find out what is hot in your town and get locations and menus for the place all without having to leave the comfort of your couch. Browse through reviews and ratings to see which ones shine above the rest. While it’s true that consumers are quick to leave a bad review before leaving praises, that can be a sign in and of itself.

As these apps continue to advance and tie in social accounts across the board, you’ll be able to get ideas of which of your friends have been to a particular restaurant and even see reviews and ratings they may have left. It can sometimes be tough to trust a random stranger’s review, but it’s much easier to believe something that a personal friend has said.

Related: Check Out the Top 10 Food Trends for 2016

3. Pay quicker, easier

Payment apps gained huge press and publicity in 2015, and it is only expected to grow in 2016. Finding easier ways to pay for things has become an obsession, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Apps like Cover want to make paying for your bill quick and simple and getting you in and out of the restaurant as fast possible.

The app is simple to use. Simply check in when you arrive at a restaurant that accepts Cover, and let your server know. That’s it. Cover accepts Apple Pay or credit card, and whenever you’re ready to leave you can pay for your meal through the app. It will even calculate your tip for you or add a fixed amount for the tip, if you so desire.

Splitting a meal has been a bane of diners’ experiences for years, and that should become easier in 2016, as well. With apps like Cover, you can easily split the bill amongst friends, even if they don’t have the app. It’s just another convenience feature designed to make the dining process a breeze, and it will continue to improve in 2016.

4. Computers replacing servers?

While this can be a controversial issue, there has been a huge growth with tablets and computers in the restaurant industry. It can only be assumed that it will continue to gain traction in 2016. While there will never be a true replacement for human experience, many casual dining spots can see benefits from going the way of the tablet.

There are many times where a tablet could be of great use. Scheduling a serving staff during non-peak hours can result in a restaurant full of workers looking for something to do, and having tablets to take orders during these slow times can be a great way to alleviate some of those costs during those times. Tablets at the table also give restaurant goers a way to pay for their food and leave if they are crunched for time.

In an age where our attention span is about five minutes max, tablets can have some additional perks, as well. Things like games directly on your table’s tablet give diners something to do while waiting for their meal. You could even include fun perks with these games including small discounts or half off appetizers.

5. Restless palate syndrome

This term gained a lot of popularity in 2015, and it’s the one point on our list that isn’t related to tech advances in the restaurant industry. As diners become more accustomed to unique dining experiences, restaurants and chefs will have to continually push the envelope to drive in new business.

Expect this trend to continue forward into 2016. Sriracha and kale have had their time in the spotlight, and 2016 will see a whole new level of creativity. New spices -- ghost pepper, I’m looking at you -- and flavors will be on the forefront and some current staples like bacon slowly fading from being the center of attention. Dishes will continue to look more elaborate, with a focus on color and plating to appeal to the Instagrammers, and in turn, free advertisement for the restaurant.

Related: Dinner Lab Drops Its Membership Paywall as It Looks to Triple Attendance

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