The Restaurants Canada has revealed their lineup for 2021’s RC Show. With COVID-19 speeding up the evolution for consumer-facing tech evolutions, here’s where we can expect tech to drive the hospitality industry going forward. From advances in technology to menu changes, RC will introduce the main themes: Touchless ordering,
In the last year alone, touchless technology has evolved to help restaurants by providing cloud-based solutions to streamline businesses, provide quality services and product, as well as ensure consistency and safety for staff and patrons. With COVID-19 speeding up the evolution for consumer-facing tech evolutions, here’s where we can expect tech to drive the hospitality industry going forward:
Some restaurants weathered lockdown better than others, adapting to restrictions by bringing in new and old tech: QR codes are the new norm for menu viewing, touchless ordering and paying the bill. Although QR codes get the job done, their impersonal approach has companies looking ahead for better ways to connect with diners without physically “connecting.” Eating out in 2021 might not feel as warm and friendly as we’re used to, at least not right away, but the introduction of apps aim to help make the whole process contactless. Customers can ask their server questions, order and even pay via text for a truly contactless experience.
AR, VR and The Digital Shelf
Just as the RC Show’s 2021 ONLINE LIVE virtual platform, expect to see augmented reality play a major role in how we show vs tell diners what’s on the menu. Apps are bringing 3D experiences into people’s homes and restaurants. Picture seeing that blender in your space virtually before purchasing, or 3D food models of a dish you’re curious to try, before ordering it: Interest in online tastings, virtual experiences and curated retail boxes have skyrocketed since the pandemic began.
Food Delivery Soars to New Heights
With food delivery one of the saving graces for the hospitality industry in 2020, consumers will be expecting nothing less than even faster delivery times and punctual, piping hot transfers going into the New Year. Could this be the year autonomous vehicles and drones are finally ready to start delivering our meals? Drones can cut delivery times by almost half, lowering average delivery fees drastically, and increasing the volume of possible deliveries for restaurants.
Diner ordering habits and preferences have changed. Labels have become far more transparent, menus have shrunk down to “chef specials,” and tastebuds crave the familiar during chaotic times. Here are a few other things people are hungry for in 2021: Comfort food, socially and ethically responsible kitchens, BIPOC contributions to the food industry, and food waste reduction.
Comfort Food That Rocks
In an uncertain world, diner stomachs are signalling for a taste of comfort. Restaurant chains have noticed menu staples like chicken fingers have climbed to the top of menu must-haves. But, in 2021 these flavours will be reinvented—expect to see traditional comfort foods well into the New Year, as well as new and innovative and glorious takes on tried and tested favourites – think Pad Thai French fries, pulled pork truffle mac and cheese and over-the-top vegan comfort food like plant jerky or “cauliwings.”
In 2021 customers won’t have to worry about missing out on the grub they crave, whether restrictions are still in place or not, restaurants will offer grab-and-go options so diners can conveniently access their menu favourites and flavours anywhere, anytime.
Socially Conscious Cuisine
Like our minds, our tastebuds have become just as conscientious. 2020 has seen numerous movements towards supporting marginalized groups, small businesses and local brands. Consumers can help restaurants work towards “Feeding the Recovery,” by making key choices in 2021:
BIPOC Food Matters
The Black Lives Matter Movement of 2020 has shone a spotlight on the rich culinary heritage and celebrated contributions of BIPOC people, especially in the food, beverage and retail categories. Diners will continue to seek out and support black owned and operated restaurants and businesses.
The RC Show may have started the food waste conversation a few years ago, but diners are finally demanding the brands they support give back to the communities they serve. The fight against single-use plastics will continue well into 2021. Restaurants and hotels have also recently started stepping up to the plate by sending excess food to food banks, using apps that link overstocked restaurants directly to those local communities in need. Apps offer real-time data to help price conscious consumers while combating food waste all at the same time. The government is also expected to roll out changes to blue box programs demanding restaurants continue to become even more waste-friendly.
Before COVID-19, foodservice was the fastest-growing industry in Canada, generating $93 billion in sales in 2019. Now, half of all local restaurants are at risk of closing permanently within a year.
visit www.rcshow.com for more information.
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