The food and beverage industry has long understood how digital technology improves everything from inventory control to equipment management to point-of-sale and service. You can now also use it to engage your restaurant’s guests and keep them spending time and money in your establishment.
The background TV lazily broadcasting sports games and FashionTV to passive patrons picking on chicken wings may always be a feature, but guests are now demanding a more modern, interactive experience.
We look at five emerging digital trends that can liven up the next event at your restaurant or bar.
The Photo Booth Revisited
Photo booths are a great way to transform part of your venue into a hotbed of activity. The good news is that restaurants don’t need thousands of dollars in expensive equipment or hire out professional photographers or gear rentals. Like most things, you can turn to your handy smartphone to get the job done.
One great example is Snappic which is a cloud-based photo-booth app that allows you to instantly transform part of your bar into a playful photo booth. A variety of features give you and your guests the ability to customize, share and print memories. These include:
- Branded overlays
- Animated GIFs
- Bursts & boomerangs
- Green screen
- Animated backgrounds
- Digital props
Guests can use the app to send photos to their own phone via text message or email, post to their social media of choice, or get it printed on-location at your bar. And each photo can be branded with your bar or restaurant’s logo and info, creating a natural and easy way of getting word-of-mouth promotion from your guests.
It also comes with some cool analytics, letting restaurant operators and marketers know how many guests are using the service, and what data you want to capture from guests. But really, It’s simply a fun way to make every guest feel like a celebrity.
The Interactive Bar: Mesmerise Your Guests in the Light Fantastic
Dreamy ripples of light and color slide across the bar counter. Digital wings attach themselves to cocktail shakers as guests slide interactive notes to each other above the noise and haste. Against the wall, guests tap shapes of light to each other or play virtual games. Motion and gesture technology combine with video projection to create ambient, almost other-worldly experiences.
Companies such as TouchMagix use plug and play motion devices which include to mesmerize and delight guests, using a computer, sensor, dedicated software, and installed effects/games.
Alternatively, operators could use your own computer and a Kinect XBOX One for motion sensing and simply purchase a software license. The system also requires a projector with 4000 lumens capacity.
The benefits of turning your bar into an interactive experience, is that it boosts customer engagement and gets them to be active bodies in your bar and not passively watching a TV or surfing on their smartphones. Studies have shown that interactive tech increases brand awareness by 48%, and unaided recall (55%) and purchase probability (47%) making it a tangible ROI beyond just entertaining your guests.
On Target with Electronic Dartboards
If you’re aiming for extra revenue, why not try electronic dartboards? Although darts were originally used in warfare, pubs in the United Kingdom offered wooden dartboards for guests even before World War I. Today’s digital options provide patrons with an interactive, addictive, and entertaining way to spend time in your establishment.
Not only will they enjoy themselves, stay longer and spend more on food and beverages, but they’ll also be literally dropping cash into your business. It’s difficult to resist the lure of flashing lights and friendly competition – not to mention throwing things at the wall! In-house and online tournaments add to the attraction, and you could even run regular leagues!
As with the previous activities, most electronic dartboards offer branding and advertising options. This adds further value and potential income streams. Bull’s eye!
Electronic Foosball – 1, Traditional Foosball – 0
The folks at Sinnerschrader have merged digital technology with an old favorite to create the world’s first connected foosball table. Using their open source software and a couple of photo sensors, you can easily re-purpose your foosball table to allow for electronic scoring on a mobile app.
Players can then also join the Agency Foosball League where they can access information on their performance, monitor opponents and earn badges for great play. The design team promise further developments but it’s already a win for your bar.
Sync it in Style
To round off our look at fun digital activities for bars and restaurants, there’s digital pool. While it doesn’t necessarily change the features of the game or make it more interactive, it’s just plain cool. Adapting motion recognition computing and projection, your pool table turns into a pit of awesomeness with flaming balls and watery trails (with bikini-clad girls if that’s your thing).
There’s not much more we can say about it that would do justice to its visual splendor, so just watch it here:
The idea behind these activities is not only to modernize your business, but to stimulate its profits through attracting, retaining and entertaining customers. Offer them the joy of interactivity and a return to old-school fun but in keeping with the digital age.
To remain competitive today, restaurants and bars must keep up with the trends shaped by guests’ desires. And to do that is to offer digital experiences that encourage interaction and provide a sense of wonder. Technology in the food and beverage industry has long served business owners and staff and it should be utilized to wow your customers too.
About the Author
Julio Amorim, an entrepreneur at heart, is the founder and director of SNAPPIC, a cloud based photo booth solution built for iOS and carefully designed to make running a photo booth company simple. Besides eating, dreaming and sleeping innovation, Julio enjoys playing football, socializing and designing.