NRA Trade Show Report: Better Tech, Happier Customers, Fatter Margins

Most years there is a dominant tech solution at the NRA Show. Not this year. This year we saw a range of technologies clustered around a common theme: guest experience.

Wait list management apps, tablets for table top ordering, customer guest loyalty solutions. New solutions for old problems — not just incrementally higher-tech versions of the same solutions. Rajat Suri from E La Carte, a tabletop ordering tablet company, said it best: The modern concept of the restaurants started in Roman times and has barely changed. But change is coming.

The new tech and what it does are fundamentally different from the last generation’s tools: less expensive, more functional and easier to use and maintain. This means for the first time restaurants are not swapping cost elements; they are replacing heavyweight legacy tools for margin-enhancing, operationally better solutions. I’ll repeat to make sure you didn’t miss it: margin-enhancing, operationally better solutions.

Technology and hospitality are no longer separate. Through deep integration, we’re seeing restaurants improve the guest experience in ways we never imagined before now. The restaurant you grew up in and trained in is not the restaurant you can run today, and is definitely not the restaurant you will run in a few years. And this is a good thing.