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Top 5 Restaurant Operations Management Trends You'll See in 2024

Top 5 Restaurant Operations Management Trends You'll See in 2024

Picture of Nikol Moen

Nikol Moen

New technologies and evolving customer expectations have changed the game for restaurant operations. Review this breakdown of the latest restaurant operations trends operators should be aware of this year and beyond.

The restaurant industry in 2024 is evolving rapidly, with new technologies and strategies emerging to meet changing demands. At ExpandShare, we’re watching these trends closely, understanding that staying ahead means more than just keeping pace — it’s about setting the table for the future. 

This year, we’re spotlighting the top five operational trends that savvy restaurateurs need to know. From the adoption of contactless transactions to the critical importance of employee well-being, these are the key ingredients for success in today’s competitive marketplace. So, let’s explore these exciting developments that are reshaping the restaurant experience in 2024.

1. Continued adoption of contactless restaurant technologies.

In the wake of a world that’s increasingly digital-first, contactless technologies in restaurants are moving from “nice-to-have” to “must-have.” These days, many customers prefer to order and pay without touching any screens or cash. This change in preference began as a way to stay safe during the pandemic and has become a mainstream component of a quick and smooth dining out experience.

Contactless payments are a hit with customers because it’s so easy. No more waiting for a waiter or handing over a credit card. In places like the UK and Australia, the old way of paying at restaurants feels as outdated as ‘cash only’ signs do here in the States.

Today, over half of the people eating out choose restaurants with contactless options, and this trend is only growing. Restaurants keeping up with this tech aren’t just going with the flow; they’re leading the pack.

Going contactless means restaurants are gearing up for whatever comes next. Staying up-to-date with tech helps a restaurant really stand out.

2. A bigger emphasis on restaurant employee well-being and staff training.

Happy staff means happy customers. In 2024, smart restaurants know that taking good care of their teams is a must-do. 

Emphasizing employee well-being isn’t just about being nice; it’s smart business. Staff who feel looked after tend to stick around, saving restaurants the trouble and labor costs of hiring new people all the time.

Believe it or not, training is a huge part of employee happiness. When staff members know what they’re doing, they feel good about their jobs, they do a better job — which customers can see — and, most importantly, the whole restaurant runs better. Plus, with good training, everyone on the team can help out wherever it’s needed most. If someone calls in sick, another team member can step in and help without a customer ever batting an eye. This kind of teamwork creates a positive environment and a smoother operation.

Top performing restaurants are putting more time and effort into restaurant employee training programs. They’re making sure staff know they’re valued and have what they need to succeed. And guess what? It’s working. Restaurants with happy, well-trained teams are seeing more customers coming back. In fact, in a recent study of restaurants by Deloitte, they found that what customers value most in a restaurant is friendly and hospitable employees. What’s more: up to 95% of consumers consider customer service when deciding where to dine.

Now that we’ve explored the power of happy, high-functioning staff members, let’s explore how AI and automation are changing the game in restaurant tech.

GUIDE

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3. Adoption of AI automation across the restaurant tech stack.

In the busy world of restaurants, AI and automation are like having a superhero team in the kitchen and front of the house. This year, more and more restaurants are investing in AI to do all sorts of tasks, from ordering supplies to helping customers order their meals.

Imagine AI as a tireless, super-smart assistant. It can figure out how much food to order so nothing goes to waste, or it can chat with customers online to answer their questions fast. This means your staff can focus on making great food and giving diners a good time, without sweating the small stuff.

Believe it or not, nearly 9 out of 10 restaurants are already using some form of AI. It’s not just about robots making salads; it’s about tools that help the team do their jobs better.

Getting started with AI in your restaurant may sound daunting, but it can be as simple as using a chatbot on your website or checking out the AI features in the software you already have. This way, restaurants can serve up great experiences without extra hassle (or a steep investment). 

4. Investment in tableside technology and restaurant mobile apps.

As we step into the future, restaurants are not just places to eat; they’re becoming spaces where every meal feels like it’s made just for you. It’s all about creating that personal touch, whether you’re dining in or ordering out.

Today’s diners want to feel special, and restaurants are listening. They’re using tech to remember your favorite dishes, suggest new ones you might like, and even greet you by name when you walk in the door or log into their app. It’s like having a friend who knows exactly what you’re in the mood to eat. Here’s a peek at the technology tactics restaurants are using to create a personalized dining experience:

  • Customized recommendations: For instance, many places now offer customized menus based on your dietary preferences or past orders. Gluten-free? Vegan? Keto? No problem. Your perfect meal is just a few clicks away. And with apps and loyalty programs, the more you visit, the better these recommendations get.

  • Personalized dining: Restaurants are going the extra mile to craft unique experiences that transform every visit into something memorable. Imagine walking into a place that not only knows your name and your favorite dish, but also immerses you in an environment tailored to your preferences. This could mean dining in a room where the ambiance adjusts to match your mood, from the lighting down to the genre of music playing softly in the background.

  • Interactive Technology: Interactive table technology is another frontier. Picture sitting down at a table where you can swipe through a digital menu, place your order, and then watch live feed of the kitchen where your meal is being prepared. Or, while waiting, you and your companions might engage in a trivia game right on the tabletop. For families, some restaurants offer tables where kids can draw and play games, turning the wait for food into part of the fun.

 

In essence, the trend towards crafting unique experiences is about creating moments that diners will cherish and share. It’s these extraordinary touches that turn a simple meal out into a story worth telling, ensuring that guests leave with full bellies and full hearts, eager to return and see what new experiences await them.

So, what’s driving this trend? It’s simple: connection. In a digital world, we all crave a bit of personal attention. And restaurants that make us feel known and valued are the ones we’ll keep coming back to.

5. Delivery optimization to increase customer satisfaction.

As dining habits evolve, so does the demand for off-premise dining options. Delivery has exploded since the start of the pandemic. This year, the buzz is all about optimizing it to ensure every meal enjoyed at home matches the quality and experience of dining in.  Restaurants are turning to innovative solutions to keep food hot (or cold), perfectly presented, and delivered swiftly to your doorstep.

The focus isn’t just on speed; it’s on the entire journey from kitchen to table. Advanced packaging solutions are in play to make sure that a salad stays crisp and a steak arrives as if it’s fresh off the grill. Customizable delivery options allow customers to specify drop-off instructions or choose no-contact delivery, enhancing safety and convenience.

On top of that, smart tech integration is streamlining the process. From apps that provide real-time tracking of your order to AI-driven systems that predict peak times and optimize routes, technology is at the heart of delivery optimization. This tech not only improves efficiency but also opens up new ways for restaurants to connect with their customers, offering promotions, loyalty rewards, and personalized suggestions based on past orders.

It’s all about exceeding expectations, whether they’re in the walls of the restaurant or not. It’s about bringing the restaurant experience home, making every meal an occasion, whether it’s a family dinner or a solo treat.

2024 restaurant operations trends are dynamic, digital, and deeply personal.

Reflecting on the trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2024, it’s clear that the future of dining is dynamic and digital, but also deeply personal. From embracing contactless technologies and AI to personalizing the dining experience and revolutionizing delivery, restaurants are finding innovative ways to meet the changing desires of their customers.

At the core of these trends are commitments to connection and satisfaction. Whether through a memorable in-restaurant experience or the perfect at-home dining setup, the goal is to make every meal special. As we navigate these exciting changes, one thing remains certain: the restaurant industry continues to be a energetic, ever-evolving space full of opportunities for both operators and diners alike.

Let’s savor the journey and look forward to the delicious possibilities that 2024 and beyond will bring to our tables.

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