As online food ordering becomes more commonplace, consumers will expect ever more streamlined and connected experiences

Already, a quarter find the idea of tracking orders on their mobile devices appealing, while a fifth would like to be able to create bar tabs or repeat previous orders.

Since summer 2020, three-quarters (76%) of consumers have pre-booked to eat or drink out in a hospitality venue and 45% are now ordering food and/or drinks on mobile devices when eating out – a trend which younger consumers are keen to continue. In fact, over half (56%) of 18- to 24-year-olds would prefer to order online even after the country has been safely vaccinated, the latest GO Technology report shows.

Having become comfortable with technology such as order & pay during the last 12-months, a rising number of consumers are also now becoming interested in taking their hospitality tech journey to the next level, with 14% now very interested in voice-search and 13% in voice-order features when planning restaurant, pub and bar visits.

Virtual and augmented reality technology are also increasingly attractive to younger adults, particularly in a late-night environment, where a third of users say they are very interested in virtual reality tours and experiences. And, while robot waiters and bartenders are still some way off, their appeal is growing too with well over a quarter (29%) of late-night bar users saying they are very interested to experience them.

Alison Vasey, Group Product Director at Zonal, said: “The fast-growing role that technology is playing in hospitality is undeniable. While some tech solutions were implemented as a necessity during the midst of Covid-19 crisis to facilitate reopening, our new research shows that customers’ expectations now are that tech will help to enhance their hospitality experiences even further.

“At Zonal we have always been at the forefront of innovation and we continue to invest significantly in developing new products so that we can respond to these changing consumer habits, as well as ensuring our solutions continue to drive greater operational efficiency and help deliver the connected, streamlined experience that consumers are increasingly seeking out.”

Mobile interaction soared during lockdown, meaning greater numbers of consumers are engaging with food and drink businesses on their mobile devices than ever before. Just over a quarter (26%) now say they order food on mobiles when they eat out—nearly double those (14%) who said the same in July 2019. The number of consumers using mobiles to browse menus and pay has soared in the last 18-months too (32% up from 23%, and 18%, up from 11%, respectively), while online ordering of deliveries and takeaways is up across all age groups.

According to the report nearly a quarter of consumers have now ordered from platforms like Deliveroo and Just Eat more often than usual— double the number who said the same in April 2020 during the first lockdown. Savvy operators will be planning how to integrate a multi-channel offer even after reopening with consumer habits likely to remain for the future.

Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, added: “There is no doubt that a lot of the change we have seen over the last 12 months is here for good. Businesses that can identify the technology that is genuinely beneficial rather than gimmicky, and weave it together with the best traditional elements of hospitality, should feel confident about bouncing back when hospitality returns in the spring.”