8 Restaurant Tech Hacks To Crush The Holidays

Dazzle during the holidays with these 8 restaurant tech hacks! Get the most out of your tech stack and dominate the busiest part of the year.
Trace Mannewitz

The holiday season is upon us, and while it's a time of joy and celebration for restaurants, it's also a season of immense potential and competition. Fast casual, casual dining, and quick service restaurants (QSRs) can leverage their tech stack to capitalize on the festive rush and optimize the dining experience. Here's how.

Before diving into the strategies, it's vital to understand what we mean by the 'tech stack.' In essence, it's the combination of software, apps, platforms, and hardware used by restaurants to optimize operations, enhance customer experience, and drive sales.

1. Reservations and Waitlist Management

Fast Casual & Casual Dining: With families and friends meeting up, expect a surge in diners. Integrated reservation platforms can forecast peak times and help manage the influx. Using analytics, restaurants can gauge the average waiting time and adjust their staffing and kitchen operations accordingly.

QSRs: While reservations aren't common, predicting rush hours and efficiently managing queues is crucial. Digital signage updating wait times can enhance transparency and improve customer experience.

2. Online Ordering & Delivery

The holidays often bring with them a spike in takeout and delivery orders. Restaurants should ensure their online ordering platform is intuitive and mobile-responsive. Find one that integrates directly with the rest of your kitchen and POS to ensure the entire process is as smooth as possible for you and your customers. 

3. Loyalty Programs and Special Offers

One powerful tool at their disposal is the loyalty program. Loyalty programs, when designed thoughtfully, can incentivize repeat visits and higher spending. For instance, a holiday-themed punch card system offering a free item after a certain number of purchases can encourage frequent visits and introduce customers to new menu items. This not only drives up sales during the season but can also create lasting habits, ensuring that customers return even after the holidays.

Beyond just punch card systems, integrating technology can take these programs to the next level. With a dedicated restaurant app, establishments can send personalized offers based on a customer's purchase history. Imagine sending a targeted discount on a festive beverage to someone who frequently orders drinks or offering a special holiday dessert deal to those who often indulge in sweets. These tailor-made offers feel personal and can significantly enhance the customer experience, making them more likely to choose your establishment over competitors. Additionally, using push notifications or SMS reminders about limited-time holiday offers can create a sense of urgency, prompting more immediate visits.

4. Digital Menus & Payment Systems

In the age of digital transformation, restaurant menus are no longer just lists of dishes on paper or boards; they've become dynamic interfaces that can significantly influence customer choices. When optimized effectively, digital menus can strategically highlight and promote more profitable items, increasing revenue. By employing principles from both psychology and design, such as using vibrant images of high-margin dishes or placing them in the menu's 'golden triangle'—the top-left corner, center, and top-right corner where eyes naturally drift first—restaurants can subtly steer customers towards these selections.

Digital menus allow for dynamic pricing and item rotation based on demand, time of day, or inventory. This means that during peak hours, or when a particular ingredient is abundant, specific dishes can be highlighted or priced attractively to encourage orders. Additionally, employing analytics can provide insights into which items are most frequently ordered together. By bundling these into combo deals or suggesting them as add-ons, restaurants can upsell without the customer feeling pressured. For instance, if a particular dessert is often ordered with a specific entrée, suggesting it as a "perfect pairing" at the digital checkout can prompt an impulse purchase.

Beyond just the layout and analytics, digital menus can also utilize engaging descriptions that evoke emotions or appetite. Rich, tantalizing descriptions of profitable dishes can make them more appealing, ensuring they don't just remain as options but become experiences the diner is eager to indulge in. Incorporating customer reviews or ratings can further enhance this, as positive peer reviews can significantly influence decision-making. By creating an engaging, intuitive, and strategic digital menu, restaurants can effectively guide customers toward more profitable items without overt hard sells.

5. Social Media and Marketing Integrations

A robust social media strategy is non-negotiable. Using platforms like Sprout Social or Hootsuite, restaurants can schedule holiday-themed posts, ads, or even interactive content like polls. Email marketing platforms can assist in sending festive newsletters, offers, or event invites.

6. Feedback and Reviews

Fast Casual & Casual Dining: Encourage diners to leave reviews on platforms like Yelp. Positive reviews can act as word-of-mouth marketing. Conversely, address any negative feedback promptly. Integrating feedback platforms within your restaurant app can simplify this.

QSRs: Use SMS-based feedback systems post-order. Quick and easy for the customer, this provides real-time insights into areas of improvement.

7. Inventory Management

The last thing any restaurant wants during the holiday rush is to run out of ingredients. Advanced inventory management systems can send alerts when stock reaches a certain level, ensuring you're never caught off guard.

8. Enhancing the In-Dining Experience

Fast Casual & Casual Dining: Use tech to add to the holiday ambiance. Signage can display festive visuals or the day's specials. Tablets at tables can have interactive holiday games or trivia, keeping diners engaged as they wait.

QSRs: Self-ordering kiosks can reduce queues and wait times. Integrating them with AI can also mean they suggest add-ons or holiday specials, increasing the average ticket value.

Wrapping Up The Holidays 

In today's digital age, technology is not just about convenience; it's about creating memorable experiences, especially during the festive season. Whether it's ensuring a smooth reservation process, rolling out enticing offers, or simply adding a touch of holiday cheer to the in-dining experience, the right tech stack can set a restaurant apart.

This holiday season, let technology be the secret sauce to your restaurant's success. Cheers to ringing in the festivities with tech-driven efficiency and warmth!