What does the future of dining look like?

The social limitations imposed on us by the pandemic put the hospitality industry in a position where it had to innovate to survive – from the way customers place their orders through to how their food is delivered. Now that restrictions have started to ease, and we adjust to a COVID-normal state, hospitality businesses have a new task at hand: meeting customer expectations in a post-COVID world.

We’ve analysed industry trends and statistics to understand what customers are really wanting and to help hospitality businesses meet these expectations we’ve identified the top dining trends for 2022 below.

Trend 1: The domination of digital payments

Even before COVID, cash payments had been steadily declining due to the convenience of contactless payment options such as tap-and-go and digital wallets.

Considering 73 per cent of consumer payments are already digital, and consumers feel more comfortable dining out when there are contactless payment options, it’s imperative that venues have an integrated payment system for the future.

We recently partnered with app middleware platform, Doshii, which now provides our customers with an additional suite of tools that they can connect to their point-of-sale for seamless and efficient automation of operations, such as online ordering, reservation management, and staff rostering.

Trend 2: The rise in contactless ordering

QR codes have become an expected fixture of every venue over these past two years, and while they’ve largely been used to check-in, they’re also a popular method for contactless ordering – 57 per cent of consumers have indicated that QR technology would make them prefer one venue over another.

Ordering via a QR code at the table provides safety and convenience for customers as well as staff. But perhaps the most interesting reason to pay attention to this trend is that customers are spending an average of 25 per cent more when ordering via a table QR code than by traditional means.

Trend 3: The acceleration of food delivery

Take-away and food delivery have long been a staple in the hospitality industry, and online delivery has been growing for years. There’s no sign of that stopping: we’re expecting the number of Australians who use an app or delivery platform to order their food to more than double by 2025.

Alongside this continued demand for quality online food delivery, COVID restrictions created an opening for hospitality businesses to capitalise on takeaway alcohol. Customers loved the variety of venue-bottled cocktails and growlers of beer, and we can expect wine to be a popular addition to dinner delivery orders.

Trend 4: The focus on sustainability

The conscious consumer market has grown quickly, with nine out of ten Australians expressing concern about the environment and sustainability. Environmentally friendly practices such as sourcing local produce, reducing paper and plastic waste, and being proactive against food waste have all become important considerations for customers.

If given the option, consumers choose to support their local venues that also care about sustainability.

Hospitality businesses have a lot to gain by becoming environmentally conscious too. Just focusing on reducing food waste can result in thousands of dollars being saved each year – right now, 40 per cent of the food bought for inventory ends up in the bin. On top of that, you’ll be creating goodwill with potential customers and the local community, as well as doing something great for the environment!

The hospitality industry has a great opportunity to embrace the post-COVID future of dining. Customers and staff have become accustomed to technology being part of their dining experience, and even prefer the convenience and safety it allows. But, quality service and experience will always top the priority list, so the task for all businesses is to make use of technology to enhance the dining experience.