A few years back, most restaurateurs wouldn’t have considered replacing their menus with a QR code. The idea would have seemed very alien to hospitality managers who were stuck in their ways with no reason to change. However, one thing we have learned about pandemics…they make change really easy.
Fundamentally, the hospitality industry is one that doesn’t change unless it needs to. We’ve mastered much of what makes a good cafe, a good restaurant, or a welcoming and popular pub. And why fix things that aren’t broken?
After all, we’ve a long history of hospitality in this country, with inns and public houses dating back many centuries. However, when something prompts a major change, and that change turns out to be something worth keeping, we will adapt!
QR codes saved the day in 2021
Back in the heady days of summer 2020, when hospitality businesses were just about to start offering some form of in-person dining and drinking options once more after a long period of enforced lockdown, QR codes started popping up in place of physical menus.
Using QR codes to get menus onto your customers’ mobiles was a great solution to many Covid-specific limitations. For one, it meant no physical menus to replace or sanitize after every user. It also allowed staff to keep a distance from tables, only coming closer to deliver food. QR codes and digital menus were a convenient way to reduce contact between staff and punters, but they soon revealed themselves to offer many more benefits for both consumers and businesses.
Diners keen to retain digital menus and QR codes
As well as the practical benefits of ditching physical menus and limiting at-table service during the darkest months of the pandemic, QR code menus had several other benefits. Diners liked how they suddenly had control over the ordering process. They didn’t even have to wait for a waiter to bring them a menu – it was right there on their phone, as soon as they sat down and tapped.
Not only that, they could take as much or as little time as they pleased to make their selection and order through the app. No more desperately trying to get the attention of the busy waiter without seeming ‘difficult’. No more awkward waves across the crowded dining room or distraction from conversation – all of a sudden, diners were able to have their food ordered within minutes of taking their seats.
Then there were the benefits to waiting staff, who started to enjoy their work so much more; free to help out in the kitchen or at the bar and free to chat to customers and provide a more personal level of service.
A recent survey by YouGov and TheDrum in the US, found that 75% of the consumers they spoke to said they would be willing to use more QR codes in the future.
Meanwhile, hospitality business owners started noticing benefits too. They were suddenly able to change items on their menus, adjust availability and alter prices at the touch of a button without having to reprint their menus time and time again. Menu ordering apps that allow you to upsell and add prompts to menus resulted in sales increases.
Still a few pinch points for diners
So, it’s clear that QR codes and digital menus are here to stay, as they offer so much more than simply reducing contact. However, all QR code-based ordering tools are not born equal.
Here at Leslie, we’ve been aware of the pinch points for consumers since our inception. We’ve always known that diners don’t want to have to download apps when they sit down to order their food in a restaurant. We know that they are sick of logging in and inputting their data over and over again, and they don’t like the fact that their phone is getting clogged up with restaurant ordering apps that they may only ever use once!
With this in mind, we’ve made sure that our QR code-based food ordering tool requires nothing of the consumer, apart from the initial tap on the code. The menu pops up, the ordering takes place and nothing is left behind. They don’t have to log in or download an app, they just view the menu and order. Simple.
Tech saving the day for restaurants
If we take a look at the bigger picture in the restaurant industry, many restaurateurs are turning to tech to help save them money and navigate the staff shortages being felt in the sector. Some venues are turning to tools like Stint, which helps business owners to find short-term staff to wait tables, work bars and generally boost staffing levels during busier times.
Others are turning to dedicated payment tools that help them avoid credit card charges. Many restaurants find that saving just a few hundred pounds a month is making a noticeable difference to their prospects as we face a new, even busier, year.
Tech is also helping hospitality managers gain flexibility over things like prices and supplies. Leslie helps our users to adapt their menus quickly when certain produce is in short supply. It also enables them to put prices up temporarily to reflect cost increases.
Business owners know that consumers are being faced with increased prices in the face of a whole list of challenges right now. However, technology is really making a difference to those who are willing to adopt it and make it work for them.
Alongside many other hospitality tech firms, we are here to make life easier for hospitality businesses – and, ideally, to help keep prices lower for loyal customers who are looking forward to enjoying the freedom to eat out more in 2022.