Italian restaurants are using tech in innovative ways to improve the customer experience.
However Tanja Scheffel, marketing and operations advisor for the Vapiano chain, believes having a few key pieces of tech is better than using a lot for the sake of it.
The restaurants centre around stations where you can pick your food, watch the chef cook it and customise it to your taste.
At each station customers touch a Vapiano ‘smart-card’, which they are handed on entry; it logs their choices and they then use it to pay at the end.
The system means you can pay together or separately, so don’t have to worry about figuring out the bill.
“We are actually happy with the tech we have,” said Scheffel.
“There might be some add-ons coming though; for example, in London one of restaurants is trialling a smartphone charging system which is installed in the tables.
“If it goes well it will be rolled out worldwide. We are happy to have one trial here in London then to focus on the card-based ordering systems.
“We try to see what makes it more enjoyable for guests.
“The world is getting more tech, and it seems like more and more people are addicted to their smartphones, so this was one project that came from the department.”
The company’s ‘special projects’ department, based in its head office in Germany, is responsible for deciding which tech they try.
“We mainly get suggestions from Germany but obviously the UK, and especially London, is a bit of a different market to the German one – it’s more dynamic and modern – so we always give feedback back to Germany and from there they use that feedback to develop projects for the rest of the world,” she added.
Are they worried about getting overtaken by tech-focused restaurants like inamo? Not as long as they focus on what works for them, and do it well.
“I would say we still should focus on the core things that we’re doing great – good, fresh food cooked in front of you,” says Scheffel.
“I personally would say that it might get a bit too complicated for guests if you have too much tech in your restaurant.”