Guests Like Tech-Savvy Service

| February 19, 2008

The National Restaurant Association released its annual Restaurant Industry Forecast for the year ahead, and results show that the U.S. restaurant industry - typically slower to adopt cutting-edge technologies - is placing a priority on IT initiatives in the year ahead. Will these initiatives be enough, however, to satisfy increasingly tech-savvy guests?

The forecast indicates that technology initiatives will be a higher priority to restaurants in 2008, with about one third of establishments across all table-service dining segments planning to allocate a larger portion of their budgets to IT this year over previous years. This number gets even higher in the quick-service segment, with 55% of operators planning on beefing up their IT budgets this year.

"Full-service operators are increasingly wooing consumers with in-restaurant technology," notes the report. Areas getting the most development dollars, according to the report, include the ability to offer wireless Internet access
for guest use, and more and better televisions.

One technology that has yet to take hold in the full-service segment, but is of particular interest to guests, is electronic ordering and payment at the table. Currently just 1% of full-service operators offer either option, and more than 80% do not believe electronic ordering systems at the table will become more popular. Slightly fewer (70%) don't believe tableside payment technology will become more popular in their segments in the future.

Consumer preferences indicate that it's time for the industry to listen up: "Although foodservice operators have yet to embrace electronic ordering systems at the table, a sizable portion of consumers would be interested in this option," states the report. In fact 44% of adults said they would likely use an electronic ordering system at the table if their favorite table-service restaurant offered it. Consumers appear to be even more enthusiastic about electronic payment systems, with 53 percent of adults saying they would use an electronic payment system at their table if it was offered in their favorite table-service restaurant.

Also high on guests' preference lists are the following technologies: the ability to use wireless Internet access at their tables, the ability to opt-in to receive e-mail and cell phone text message notices of specials from their favorite restaurants, and the pleasure of watching a personal television mounted directly at their tables.

The complete 2008 Restaurant Industry Forecast can be ordered online from the National Restaurant Association at www.restaurant.org.

[INDUSTRY NEWS]
Pizza Hut Debuts Mobile Ordering

Pizza Hut announces the introduction of two mobile ordering options that allow customers to order pizza from their mobile phones at any of the chain's 6,200 outlets nationwide via text messaging or mobile Web.

Pizza Hut is not the first to offer mobile ordering services - Dominoes and Papa John's offer similar services - but the Dallas-based company says its service, dubbed "Total Mobile Access" is the broadest and most comprehensive.

"Text messaging and mobile Web are an integral part of millions of Americans' lives...and online ordering has become one of the fastest growing segments of our business in recent years," says Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut CMO. "We're excited that these fast, flexible ordering options can be used to order Pizza Hut pizza."


Wynn to Deliver "Excellence" Keynote at Hotel Tech Forum
Wynn Las Vegas is the only resort casino in the world to hold both the Mobile 5 Star and the AAA 5 Diamond rating, making its CIO Scott Carcillo an ideal executive to headline this year's Hotel Technology Forum as the keynote speaker. Carcillo will address an audience of 200 of the industry's most powerful IT executives at the fourth annual Hotel Technology Forum, a three-day educational and networking event scheduled for April 23-25 in Las Vegas.

Focusing on this year's theme, Roadmap to Excellence: Optimizing Technology to Drive Top-Level Service & Bottom Line Results, Carcillo will share what it means to achieve excellence at Wynn Las Vegas. He'll discuss the company's strategies for setting goals and expectations, overcoming challenges, empowering all levels of staff, and identifying the right IT tools for success.

Now in its fourth year, the Hotel Technology Forum brings together senior-level executives from the world's leading lodging companies to exchange ideas, build strategic alliances and strengthen the hospitality community. Tom Conophy, CIO for InterContinental Hotels Group, is returning from his role as keynote at last year's event to serve as the 2008 honorary chairperson and moderate a panel discussion on new technologies that will shape investments in the lodging industry. Additional session topics and speakers for the 2008 event include: Technology for Personalization (Hilton Hotels Corp.), IT Convergence (Kerzner International), In-Room Technologies (Wyndham Hotels), Self-Service (with Carlson, Choice and IHG), and others. For a full listing of sessions and speakers, or to register to attend the event, visit www.htmagazine.com.



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