Go digital or perish. Gastronomy without smart solutions is ancient history

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Go digital or perish. Gastronomy without smart solutions is ancient history

Posted on 15/11/2021

Digital tools for gastronomy will attract your guests and staff, prep a shopping list, and make a POS report at the end of day. In a post-pandemic world, restaurateurs, managers, and chefs will not go far without advanced tools.

Efficient use of online tools is a must for every sober-minded restaurateur these days. And it is not about the delivery apps or social media necessary for business to survive. It is about solutions that help restaurateurs, managers, and chefs manage their staff, inventory, budget, and menu in a new and more efficient way. And did you hear that there are tools to support long-lasting customer relationships?

Making the life of a restaurateur easier

The list of applications that increase staff efficiency, streamline bookings, help control stocking, and monitor inventory is long. The most popular are the following. TouchBistro, Orderly or BlueCart for Buyers.

On the other hand, bar owners can take advantage of Partender, an application that claims to make a "bar inventory in 15 minutes". Partender's authors claim that the solution has 99.2% accuracy in determining how much alcohol has actually been consumed and thus detect any accounting discrepancies.

Loyalty applications play an important role in keeping guests close to the heart, offering discounts and special offers in exchange for reviews and support expressed by frequent visits and wide-open wallets. Industry-recommended applications include: Finebite, LoyaltyPlant, Loyal, or ProfitApp.

Apps help build chef communities

The finedininglovers.com industry website recommends chef applications to facilitate their work and communication in the post-pandemic world. The portal recommends Healthy Hospo, an app that offers chefs not only culinary tips and advice, but also builds a sense of community. "Personalized lessons from health and financial experts tailored to the needs of the hospitality community come with a resource library of podcasts, videos and recommended reads," writes finedininglovers.com.

Another solution recommended by the industry is Clubhouse, an invitation-only social app. It allows users to meet in private rooms, talk to experts and exchange information in an exclusive group.  The Clubhouse was launched during the 2020 pandemic by Alpha Exploration Co. In February 2021, the app was valued at nearly $ 100 million.

Chef's Feed is a culinary app that supports a network of gastronomy professionals. It allows exchanging dish recommendations, and offers videos and articles developing culinary skills.

There are also applications that help chefs create new dishes from ready-made products. For example, Aviko PRO offers more than 150 inspirations for dishes made from high-quality Aviko frozen foods, as well as instructional videos and expert articles. Using the app, chefs can also check the product portfolio and conveniently contact the right retailer. Another interesting app is Paprika Recipe Manager, a digital cookbook of recipes. It allows for managing your own recipes: categorizing them or searching by ingredients. Based on recipes and specific needs, the application generates smart shopping lists as well as daily, weekly and monthly menu plans. On the other hand, the WolframCulinary Mathematics Reference App is a complex solution that comes in handy when calculating the food cost of a recipe per serving. It also provides the average prices of the ingredients in the area, helping to increase the profitability of the kitchen.

In Romania and Hungary, one of the most popular applications for chefs (amateurs and professionals) is Cookpad via which users share recipes, ideas and cooking tips. The app is also popular in France, Great Britain, Germany, and Canada. In addition, in Romania, amateur cooks like to use LaLena, an application for storing recipes, or its digital cousin, Idea de rețete.

In Hungary, popular applications for storing recipes and creating interactive shopping lists are Street Kitchen and Nosalty.

Digital recruiters hard at work

The French decided to respond in an organized manner to the great crisis related to the gastro industry talent drainage. New applications have appeared to help recruit waiters, baristas, cooks, confectioners, sommeliers and all the necessary staff.

Prestachef.fr has prepared a ranking of the 4 best recruitment tools and industry talent banks. Among them was Badakan, which includes approximately 15,000 candidate profiles, verified by the authors' team. Another is Brigad, a digital HR tool that verifies the qualifications and experience of all registered candidates. The database is smaller and includes 4,000. freelancers willing to work in the gastronomy industry. The application works in most major French cities: Paris, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Nantes, and Strasbourg, and is now launched in London.

In turn, "with Extracadabra restaurateurs receive a list of relevant profiles of future employees in under ten seconds," the app's authors claim. They emphasize that the solution reduces the recruiting time to under three minutes. Interestingly, candidates' skills are verified by artificial intelligence. Restaurateurs, hoteliers and managers rate its effectiveness very highly, as much as 92 percent. The drawback of the solution is the scope of its operation: so far, it includes only Paris, Nice and Lyon.

Another interesting idea implemented by the French media is Alloextra, a recruitment application for restaurants and catering companies in small towns. This is important because most of such solutions operate in major cities and agglomerations. So far, over a dozen thousand people and two thousand restaurants have signed up for it.

Digital maître d'hôtel supports customer relations

An app that has become increasingly popular since the pandemic in France, Belgium, and Switzerland is TheFork, owned by the Tripadvisor group. It allows you to find and book a table for any occasion, and within budget, in just three clicks. It relieves the guest from making booking phone calls, much less contacting anyone live. When the table is booked, TheFork confirms it with an email.

In October 2021, the app was used by over 80,000 restaurants, with over 20 million of customer reviews and 40,000 photos to help choose a place. TheFork has already become so popular that it organizes its own festival, offering 50% discounts at selected restaurants in France, Switzerland, and Belgium through mid-November. In addition, each guest collects points that can be spent in their favorite places.

Another example of the new quality of customer communication is the Eat App, which brings together more than 3000 restaurants in 50 countries. The idea behind it is: "Take care of your guest, we will automate the rest." With the Eat App, you can easily make table reservations and create a waiting list. Creates a database of customers, remembering their preferences, past purchases, frequency of visiting and characteristic behaviors, such as "always orders a double dessert" or "drinks only Chardonnay with sparkling water." As the developers of the application claim, restaurants using the Eat App increased their bills by 19%. Their cancellation rate dropped by 25% and the number of customers increased by 15%.

Another quite impressive proposal is OctoTable, free in the basic version, and available in English, French, Spanish and Italian. The application offers a booking system based on the hours proposed by the restaurateur, as well as a menu with beautiful photos, and a map of rooms and tables. Other features included a restaurant website building panel, a customer database, integration with social media, and payment management. The exotic version of OctoTable is OctoBeach, created to manage pubs and beach clubs.

Digital solutions made in Central Europe

In Poland, the app MojStolik born during the pandemic celebrates its first successes. The solution allows browsing the menu conveniently and free of charge, and then booking a table online in restaurants in Warsaw and two other Polish cities.

On the other hand, an app that is very popular in the Czech Republic is Qerko, i.e. a smart payment system. "We came up with Qerko to make paying in restaurants, bistros, and cafes easier. No more waiting in the bar line or bending backwards to split bills with friends. Download the app, scan the QR code, and pay with one click. The bill will be available immediately in your e-mail inbox, and in the application profile." explain the authors of the solution. The other interesting, and popular proposition among Czech foodies is Gastromap Lukáše Hejlíka. The app helps discover "Czech and Moravian gastronomy's secrets", over a thousand places in total.

A new landscape for new technologies

According to the American National Restaurant Association's 2030 Report, information technology will permeate restaurants. This will enable restaurants to interact in real time with an evolving digital ecosystem of apps, services and personal AI assistants.

"Post-pandemic, the landscape of food service as an industry looks very different. The era of smart restaurants is coming," concludes Agnieszka Malkiewicz with FOR Solutions, a gastronomy marketing agency. "Success in the restaurant industry will always be about great food and great service. However, with each year, it will require more new technologies and bigger data sets. Otherwise, restaurants will fall behind their customers' needs." said Mrs. Malkiewicz.