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Consumers are increasingly interested in technology amenities when dining out, even though restaurants' incorporation of such amenities is slow.

According to a new report from research firm Technomic, a majority of consumers expect to use technology to order food at restaurants more often in the coming year, and very few (just 3 percent) expect to use it less than they currently do, signaling opportunity for operators who haven't already integrated the latest technologies into their business.

Trending in the early stages of foodservice tech usage, consumers express the most interest in tableside touchscreen devices that enable them to self-order and pay, iPad/tablet menus and digital rewards tied to loyalty programs.

"Technology can be used as a point of differentiation within the restaurant industry, especially with Millennials," said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. "Operators who stay ahead of the curve, in an increasingly competitive market, will need to evaluate the best use for the latest tech trends and decide how to integrate them into their operations in a way that's efficient and beneficial to consumers. It should complement and enhance the restaurant experience for all age groups, which may mean having a printed menu available, as well as an iPad/tablet."

Other highlights from Technomic's latest survey include:

  • More than half of respondents (51 percent) consider it important for restaurants to integrate technology into their ordering capabilities;
  • Technologies related to ordering, coupons or special offers sent via email or text message have the highest usage rates. Nearly three-fifths (58 percent) of panelists say they use these at least once a month;
  • Among technologies designed to entertain restaurant-goers, Wi-Fi access and LCD flat-screen TVs are used the most;
  • Out of all restaurant segments and types of retail stores, consumers are most receptive to technology-based orders at casual dining restaurants; and
  • In general, younger consumers are more interested in technology at restaurants than older diners. Consumers from 18–44 years old are far more likely than those over 45 to say they might connect to their favorite restaurants via a mobile app and order using a touchscreen kiosk. Interest is highest among 25- to 34-year-old Millennials.

Read more about systems and technology trends.

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