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In this episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg, “The Restaurant Guy,” and Jimmy Frischling, “The Finance Guy,” are joined by two returning guests, Christi Ravneberg, Senior Director of Media Intelligence and Custom Content for Informa Connect and Joe Donnelly, President of Media and Events at Informa Connect.

Christi and Joe dive into the Informa Connect intelligence platform, stirring the pot by surveying operator and retailer audiences. They whip up in-depth reports on technology, labor, and the major challenges operators are chewing over today. The guests dish out key trends from the Restaurant Tech Outlook report.


Key Takeaways:

· Breaking News: The release of Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2024 Restaurant Tech Outlook, a market leader report on the transformative tech strategies for restaurants. Ben discusses the value of the report as part of an ongoing annual effort, with plans to continue this trend with collaboration between Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Business, supported by the sponsor community, including QSR Automation.

· Operator Confidence in Data Utilization: Christi talks about investment trends and operator behavior. She shares that operators are increasingly confident in their use of data. Digital marketing emerges as a major area of investment, with trends leaning toward more cautious and discerning investments in technology compared to previous years.

· Focused Investments for ROI: Ben shares his insight on ROI (Return on Investment) and operator’s increasing focus on making pointed investments that provide clear ROI rather than adopting new technologies hastily.

· Importance of Key Customer Data: The discussion highlights how business growth is dependent upon understanding the guest and aiding the experienced operator in efficiency.

· Challenges and Opportunities in Tech Vendor Relationships: Christi shares data on operators’ expectations for changes in their tech vendor relationships over the next year. There is a notable interest in replacing unsatisfactory tech components with better-performing ones, for example in Mergers and Acquisitions and food waste management.

· Can There Be Too Much Tech? The panel debates the restaurant industry’s growing reliance on technology. Can too much tech might overshadow the heart and soul of the business? Or, does tech and AI play an essential role across operations – from boosting kitchen efficiency and reducing errors to enhancing customer engagement.

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