3 Takeaways from the 2017 Restaurant Leadership Conference

Last week, thousands of restaurant industry leaders met in Phoenix, Arizona at the Restaurant Leadership Conference. They tested new technology, sampled delicious food and listened to powerful insights from people taking the industry by storm.

If you weren’t able to attend, no worries here are a few of the key takeaways from this year’s conference:

“Ghost Restaurants” are more than a fleeting apparition

As more customers order out and dine in the comfort of their own homes, restaurants are amping up their delivery capabilities. But some are skipping the storefront entirely, focusing on delivery-only menus that are proving popular in cities like New York.

The success of “ghost restaurants” proves that customers will remain loyal even to restaurants that provide little more than convenient, delicious food. And while patrons will always want to visit a location for an authentic dining experience, the implications are clear: delivery capabilities are crucial profit-drivers in the digital age. That means, ghost or not, your restaurant needs to get the logistics in place for fast, reliable delivery.

Taking mobile cues from retailers

Retailers have been trying to capture customer attention in the age of smartphones for awhile and restaurants can learn from their example when implementing their own mobile strategies.

More restaurateurs are recognizing the importance of reaching and engaging with customers through their mobile devices. Leading restaurants are developing their own mobile apps and using social campaigns, promotions and other rewards to encourage downloads. They’re even borrowing retail strategies — such as streamlined payment options, email and text reminders — to remind patrons to complete purchases.

In order to go big, think small

Independent restaurants and smaller chains are gaining ground this year as consumers prefer more unique, intimate experiences that big brands don’t always deliver. But every restaurant, big chain or not, can learn from smaller brands by providing more personal experiences for patrons.

Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, commended Taco Bell as an example of a huge brand that still maintains a personal connection with consumers by being culturally relevant. Taco Bell’s witty campaigns and clever social media presence shows that the brand is tuned into what consumers like.

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