A new year brings new expectations for both restaurant operators and the customers they serve, but with the industry moving at such a fast pace, what will the diner of tomorrow expect?

It’s easy to get side-tracked by the online food delivery revolution (which is rapidly turning into a $200bn global food industry), but the fact remains that the average Australian household still spends around $4,900 a year on eating out.

Research by Deloitte has provided a fascinating insight into the requirements of modern diners. So, we decided to dive in and pick out the juiciest titbits for restaurateurs.

Here’s what the restaurant customer of 2020 is likely to want.

An engaging, customisable menu

It may come as no surprise that the number one factor when choosing a restaurant for the first time is still the menu.

This means it’s more important than ever to concentrate on providing a brilliant menu that’s capable of ushering people in off the streets.

Take into account the following when designing your menu:

Price: modern diners want great value – not necessarily the cheapest prices

Allergens: are you catering for gluten-free, dairy-free and any other common allergens?

Vegan options: although hard to quantify, it’s estimated that there are between 400,000 to 500,000 vegans in Australia

Design: a good-looking menu is more likely to catch the eyes of passers-by on the street – and online

Clear categories: make sure your menu is easy to scan

Diners are increasingly seeking customisable menus, too. Your 2020 menu should therefore offer plenty of flexibility for anyone who wants to create their own dining experience, inspired by your core offerings.

Tech-driven ordering

Regardless of what you think about the online food delivery revolution, there’s no denying the impact it has had on the diner journey.

Deloitte’s research suggests that people are more likely to both increase the frequency of their visits and raise their average spend if technology can be used to place an order.

Head to a McDonald’s today, and you’ll probably discover the ability to order from your table and have it hand delivered. Your restaurant may not suit this type of experience, but if you’re operating a quick service restaurant (QSR), tomorrow’s diners will probably seek that level of convenience.

Online ordering

Forty percent of restaurant customers now prefer to order online. That probably won’t come as a surprise, but the fact that their spend increases when they do, certainly might.

Online ordering is favoured even more if you’re operating a QSR or casual establishment (26% and 13% more, respectively).

If you’ve yet to embrace an online restaurant booking system, 2020 is definitely the year to make the leap (good news: the ‘leap’ isn’t that big at all these days).

Payment flexibility

There are two sides to this coin. One relates to the ability to easily split checks. Just over 50% of diners want this form of payment flexibility for drive-throughs, take-outs and within restaurants.

A POS system that enables waiting staff to easily split checks by item, percentages or monetary values will therefore be an increasingly important tool as we head into the next decade.

It’s a similar story with the methods by which people pay. With Apple Pay and Google Pay now more widely available, Australians are increasingly turning to digital payment methods.

This chimes with Deloitte’s research, which reveals that 31% of diners now want to pay by phone, with 50% of them wanting to do so via a restaurant app. The days of cash really do appear to be numbered.

Loyalty that rewards

It’s a shame to see that just 87% of Deloitte’s survey respondents belonged to fewer than three loyalty programs, but that shouldn’t be taken at face value.

Loyalty programs are still a great way to encourage repeat visits and increase brand recognition. You just need to get them right, which means offering three things:

– discounts (wanted by 51% of loyalty members);

– engagement rewards (wanted by 44% of loyalty members); and

– the ability to track loyalty points via an app.

The engagement rewards are particularly interesting and has already been put to great use in the airline industry. For instance, Emirates are now capturing the attention of customers by offering significant increases in point rewards for similarly-priced fares.

Is 2020 the year your restaurant will begin offering a loyalty scheme?

Final takeaway: the importance of reputation management

TripAdvisor is often feared by restaurateurs, but with 84% of diners likely to return when a restaurant responds directly to their feedback, it’s clearly an opportunity to increase repeat visits.

If one thing will remain the same in 2020, it’s the power of online reviews. They influence the diner journey considerably, and restauranteurs who embrace their online reputation and manage it effectively will be far more likely to achieve success in 2020.

What are you looking forward to next year as a restaurateur?


H&L POS – working with you to help you grow your business
H&L POS has been delivering POS solutions with extensive back of house and staff management systems to the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. As hospitality people at heart, H&L understand the critical requirements for each food and beverage operation. We have staff in every state of Australia providing direction and advice as you grow and as technology changes.
Call us at 1800 778 340, email sales@hlpos.com or fill in the form below to discuss your venue’s needs.