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What do Canadian diners actually want from technology?

Results from OpenTable's Technology and Dining Out 2015 Canadian study. (PRNewsFoto/OpenTable)

OpenTable has released the Canadian results of its “Technology and Dining Out” research survey, which provides insight into what diners want from technology before, during and after the dining experience. The company also launched its new e-Book, Technology and Dining Out 2015 – Canada Edition, available in English and French.

The study explores everything from what diners think of emerging in-meal technologies like on-table touchscreens and mobile payments, to whether restaurants googling diners before they arrive is creepy or cool.

The survey of more than 7,300 diners across Canada concentrated on six metro areas, including Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The respondents were aged 18 or over and had made at least one reservation on OpenTable in the past 12 months. The survey revealed Canadians embrace technology and dining differently depending on their location, with some cities interacting with and embracing technology more than others.

Insights from the survey include the following:

Before the Meal:

  • The menu matters:  82 per cent of Canadian diners regularly check out menus online before dining out.
    • Forty-two per cent of Vancouver diners ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ use technology to look for deals prior to dining out. That’s 13 per cent higher than the national average, and makes them the most deal-conscious in the nation.
  • Tech wish list:  90 per cent of Canadian diners wish they could use technology to get access to a hard-to-get-into-restaurant; 81 per cent wish technology could inform them how long the wait for a table would be
    • Toronto diners score highest in the country for wanting restaurants to know who in the party should receive the cheque. Twenty-five per cent of our respondents voted for this option (16 per cent higher than the national average).
  • Googling guests: Creepy or Cool? Thirty-six per cent of Canadians think it’s creepy for restaurants to Google them before arriving; 61 per cent wish restaurants knew their seating preferences before walking in the door; and 23 per cent want restaurants to know “absolutely nothing” about them.
    • Montreal emerges as one of the markets relatively more comfortable with the idea of being googled by restaurants in return for better service, with only 33 per cent of respondents saying they found it ‘creepy or intrusive.’ Twenty-three per cent of Montreal diners perceived restaurant research to be a good thing, versus a national average of 20 per cent.

During the Meal:

  • Fine dining versus casual dining etiquette:  Sixty-four per cent of diners eating out at a fine dining restaurant say they “rarely or never” use their phone during the meal, as compared to 40 per cent of those at a full-service casual restaurant.
  • In-meal technology:  Twenty-three per cent of Canadian diners “always” or “frequently” use their phones during meals to research and decide what to order, and the same number  take photos to purely remember the experience.
    • Fifty-four per cent of diners in Calgary have tried an on-table touchscreen to browse the menu and place an order in a restaurant, compared to the national average of 50 per cent.
  • Mobile payments:  Just six per cent of Canadian diners have paid using their mobile device at a restaurant. However, the future of mobile payments in Canada is bright — 47 per cent of respondents that have “never” used a phone to pay at a restaurant said they like the idea.

After the Meal:

  • Post-meal tech use: The most common post-meal technology activity among Canadians is to coordinate plans with others (14 per cent), while 13 per cent share their experience on social media. Another 12 per cent of diners interact with a restaurant’s loyalty program using technology.
  • Mobile app download:  Just six per cent of Canadian diners are “very likely” to download the app of an individual restaurant or restaurant group; 53 per cent are “very unlikely” (30 per cent) and “somewhat unlikely” (23 per cent).

To help Canadian restaurateurs leverage these results to deliver the best dining experience for Canadians, OpenTable compiled four tips for all restaurateurs to follow:

  1. Build your digital presence so that diners can find you online, on mobile devices and on social media. Our survey revealed that Canadian diners depend on technology, including web searches, for restaurant discovery. If you aren’t online, your next diner may not find you. If you do have a website, ensure it is optimized for mobile visitors, that it includes your menu and that it’s up to date.
  2. Embrace dining technology, and incorporate it into your restaurant in a way that fits your concept. Mobile devices are ubiquitous, and while casual-dining restaurants may have more opportunities to incorporate technology into their experiences, fine dining restaurants can also embrace technologies such as touch-screen menus or video.
  3. Invest in technology that will prepare you for the future. Although just five per cent of Canadians have paid in a restaurant using their mobile device, almost 50 per cent of those that haven’t said they look forward to doing so. Keeping up with current trends is important, but it’s equally vital that restaurateurs invest in technology that can give them additional capabilities later on.
  4. Elevate your hospitality service with technology…and your staff. Verbatim feedback from thousands of Canadians underscored the importance of making diners feel special throughout their meal. The most successful restaurants are the ones that elevate service through technology and the utilization of that technology by highly trained, attentive staff.

Restaurateurs who are interested in learning more can download the entire OpenTable Technology and Dining Out 2015 study and e-Book for free.  For more information regarding regional survey results, please refer to the Appendix of the OpenTable Technology and Dining Out 2015 – Canada Edition e-Book at https://go.opentable.com/rs/531-AOS-877/images/OTTechnologyAndDiningOut2015eBookCanada_FINAL%20ENG.pdf.