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The importance of experiential dining

4 min read
experiential dining

In this article we’ll cover:

In one of the previous posts on TableYeti blog, we mentioned that the restaurant industry is insanely competitive, especially in cities like London, New York or Paris. It’s not enough to provide excellent food and good service. How do you stand out from the crowd of thousands of other restaurants in the similar price category and perhaps even serving the same cuisine?

Well, you can do so by providing experiential dining rather than just food and service. In 2020, if customers want to eat good food, they will order it online from services like Deliveroo or UberEats or slightly more upscale companies that work with pretty much any restaurant all around London and the UK. So if the customer decides to go to a restaurant, it means that they want to have proper dining out experience or they are eating out with friends, family or with their date.

What to expect from a successful restaurant in the future?

According to Deloitte, in a restaurant of the future, customers would expect an excellent experience on all the channels. They expect restaurants to invest in marketing and digital channels, be present on Social Media and use the latest technology.

More than 50% of customers would want to use a technology that allows them to split the bill in a restaurant. Moreover, 84% of customers are likely to return to a restaurant if the restaurant directly responded to their feedback.

Another survey concluded that 75% of the people are ready to pay more for a unique dining experience.

The main pillars of experiential dining

Unless you are planning to open a high-tech restaurant where people get served by robots, while watching a show performed by other robots, it’s difficult to think of a unique experience that you can provide as a mid-range European restaurant. Instead, you can improve the dining experience by optimising all the processes involved: the pillars of experiential dining.



Our first advice is to use the latest technology that is available.

Before dining

Dining experience usually starts before the customer even stepped inside a restaurant. It starts with booking a table. Restaurants that allow booking a table online as well as are present on various table booking apps like OpenTable have a considerable advantage.

If a restaurant doesn’t provide an option of booking a table, it can still use technology. Recently, an app called Walkin became popular in London. It allows you to virtually enter a queue for a trendy restaurant and then track your progress in this queue as well. Some of the early adopters of this app include restaurants like Kricket, Eggbreak, Flat Iron and many more.

During dining

Even though we are living in an increasingly digital era, technology still surprises people a lot. If you are using digital devices while taking orders or you have or tablets that allow customers to order at their table, that is likely to add bonus points to your dining experience. On another note, however, don’t try to replace all the human communication in the restaurant because many customers still really value a good conversation with their waiter.

Payment process

Up until a few years ago, there was nothing exciting about the payment process at a restaurant. However, even that has changed a lot. Nowadays, even paying at a restaurant could be a unique experience. Imagine paying on a smart device that easily lets you split the bill between all the people in the group as well as add as much tip as you want. That device can later ask you about your feedback about dining in the restaurant, and you feel like your opinion matters (it really does). It sounds like a restaurant card machine from the future, doesn’t it? Well, it already exists, and that’s what we at TableYeti are doing. Make sure to check out our payment device page. Some of the restaurants who already understood the importance of a convenient and easy payment process include Maray, Tea and Bun House and the Unity Diner.

After dining

Often, the dining experience doesn’t end after paying. Many restaurants are investing in their apps and encourage their customers to download them to be able to earn loyalty and rewards points.

Some others are asking customers to follow them on social media and announce their latest menu updates and seasonal offers there. Many are asking customers for the emails to be able to send them email communication and personalised offers such as birthday discounts, for example. Of course, not every single customer would want to receive notifications from every single restaurant they visited, but some will. Having analysed data from over 46,000 transactions over the last six months, we found out that around 5% of the customers are happy to sign up for the marketing list of the restaurant they visited. For more unique and exciting findings from the restaurant industry, check out our white paper here.

Menu and cooking process

Another way you can provide experiential dining is by offering a set menu instead of a regular a la carte menu. Some restaurants even take it to the next level and only offer a set menu without specifying the dishes you will be getting. Of course, they ask you about your preferences and things if you don’t eat. It’s exciting to wait for your next dish when you don’t know what you are getting. Some of the restaurants that use such dining experience include Cub and Restaurant James Sommerin.

Some restaurants also make the cooking process look like a performance by opening their kitchen to the public or placing the kitchen in the middle of a restaurant. Then, they sit the majority of the customers around the kitchen. That way, customers are always entertained even in the cases when they have some long pauses in their conversations. The best open kitchen we saw in the top London restaurants such as Kiln, Barbary and Barrafina.

Music and ambience

Finally, a significant bit of experiential dining is the music and the overall ambience in a restaurant. Sometimes people leave a restaurant with bad memories just because the music was too loud and they couldn’t talk or enjoy their visit. Most people prefer a speakeasy atmosphere where the music volume is kept low, and you can listen to the chatter of people around you rather than to the restaurant’s latest playlist from Spotify on a maximum volume.

Other important factors for a perfect dining experience include the lighting, temperature and even the seating layout.

Summary of the importance of the experiential dining

Experiential dining is getting more and more popular to a point where it’s not enough just to provide an excellent service and good food and a decent atmosphere in a restaurant. We discussed three different aspects of experiential dining such as technology, menu and ambience.

To be successful in the restaurant industry, a restaurant manager needs to understand what is relevant to their audience and how to stand out from the crowd. What might seem time-consuming and risky at the first stage (e.g. adopting a new technology) is usually worth it in the long term. If you can provide a unique experience to your customers, they would remember it and tell their family and friends.

We at Yetipay are happy to help you improve your customer experience by providing you with our restaurant card machine from the future that is 10x better for the planet, the waiters, the customers and, of course, the managers.