Five hospitality mega-trends to watch for in 2022

How will your hospitality business fare in 2022? Despite all the uncertainty, underlying trends are shaping the future for bars and restaurants — and it’s essential to spot them early. Let’s investigate …

Predicting the future for hospitality can seem like a fool’s errand. After all, we’ve lived through almost two years of disruption. Restaurants and bars the world over have been rocked by lockdowns, social distancing rules, supply chain headaches and labour shortages.

It’s taken a heavy toll on managers, staff, owners and investors. And it’s impossible to sugar-coat the impact on the industry globally, from the heart of London to the USA and Japan.

But positive change is on its way.

How to defy the gloom

Today, new ways for restaurants to operate are being embraced — and these developments are gathering pace. Hospitality businesses are using tech to re-tune their operations to make them more transparent, agile and resilient — for whatever is around the corner. And it’s working.

Here are five trends to watch for in 2022 among restaurants and bars which are set to emerge as stronger, leaner and more responsive businesses.

#1: A relentless focus on cost and margin

With global food prices reported to be up 32.8% in a year, a greater emphasis on cost control will be essential for hospitality businesses in 2022. Many have seen their anticipated 10% margin swept away, as the cost of ingredients has skyrocketed.

Businesses will seek out intuitive tech that lets them:

  • Analyse the price of ingredients at the granular level and use this to redesign recipes and menus
  • Set realistic prices that create sufficient margin
  • Compare supplier prices instantly across chains and negotiate better
  • View their food and drink inventory, moment by moment
  • Place order quantities based on AI-powered demand forecasts
  • Control and monitor every aspect of waste, from portion sizes to breakages
  • Schedule labour based on AI predictions

The trick here will be to watch costs and act in real-time, using trustworthy data. Only then can managers withstand inflation and defend margin.

#2: Working as a single operation with everything in one place

This sounds obvious. But the uncomfortable truth is that, traditionally, many restaurants work in a dysfunctional way. Front-of-house (FoH) and back-of-house (BoH) operate in silos, struggling at teamwork, communicating poorly and missing huge opportunities for collaboration. The data that could unite them exists on paper, spreadsheets or simply isn’t captured anywhere at all.

This problem is compounded when businesses start adding different apps or receiving orders from third-party delivery partners. Every chasm between systems and processes creates the need for costly manual workarounds, scope for errors and dark corners where waste can lurk.

Fortunately, the best Next-Gen restaurant systems can extend across your entire business and sync people, processes and data. If you want a united team, you need a unified system.

This brings significant business advantages, including:

  • Creating a stream of trustworthy data, shared across your organisation
  • Providing instant visibility into inventory, kitchen production and sales
  • Reducing friction between FoH and BoH teams
  • Simplifying oversight and control for managers
  • Providing the basis for confident investment decisions

Having a single, cloud-based system also means you only deal with one tech partner, which simplifies licensing, costs and support. And for staff, there’s just one system to learn. So it’ll be no surprise when more restaurants switch to an all-in-one system in 2022.

#3: New rules of work emerge

Increasingly, restaurants will be using tech to find ways to simplify routine and repeatable tasks — or remove them altogether. The capture of data in the ‘moment of action’ is key to this.

Hundreds of ‘events’ happen every day within a restaurant. Traditional point-of-sale systems capture transactions but they miss the detail happening behind the scenes.

But to operate your restaurant in real-time, you need to capture events as they happen. That means everything from the second a delivery arrives, to when staff clock on, to when some steak leaves a refrigerator, to the creation of a batch, to the moment a dish is served, and so on. It’s all recorded effortlessly with a click or a swipe.

The beauty of Next-Gen systems is that the capture and free movement of ‘live’ data means that one process informs another. For example, as soon as the steak is chosen by a customer and leaves the fridge, then the next order-in-waiting for your supplier is updated automatically by the system.

In a host of different ways, fresh data ripples out across the system, keeping reports updated — reducing the need for admin time spent on information gathering, paper records and sorting anomalies.

#4: Demand grows for smart insights

Imagine if managers or business owners could access profit & loss reports in real-time, 24/7, from their mobile phones? It would make a welcome change from waiting weeks for accountants to provide figures which become out of date immediately.

But easily-available insights such as these are just start of what’s possible.

Increasingly, restaurant managers will want instant information on a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs) to check if their businesses are optimised. These KPIs could relate to the performance of specific dishes, sales promotions, staff members, functions or holiday weekends. Managers will also be able to compare one restaurant’s performance with another — and step in to sort problems or offer praise.

Smart insights also let you test out ‘what if’ scenarios, such as how much extra margin you could be making if you tweak your recipes or menu, or switch from supplier A to supplier B. And if supply chain or pricing issues affect several different ingredients, you can quickly look ahead to see how many dishes and how much of your business could be impacted.

Put simply, this approach will help to put restaurants on the front foot in 2022.

#5: Restaurants rely on self-driving capabilities

What will the future of restaurants look like? A quick glance at developments within some other sectors throws up images of computer algorithms, robots and drones.

But automation doesn’t mean that restaurants will turn into vending machines. Instead, Next-Gen systems can use AI and machine learning to streamline and accelerate many tasks so they become self-driving — and often act in a predictive way. This enables restaurants to step up their game significantly.

When the system shifts into self-driving mode, you can expect actions such as these:

  • Staff communication is handled automatically, keeping everyone on the same page
  • The system automatically creates to-do lists and prompts for employees
  • Prep plans are created on-the-fly, based on AI predictions
  • Orders are sent to suppliers automatically when your inventory gets low
  • Auto alerts can be set by the system, letting managers know if something is amiss

Put simply, managers don’t need to be watching every aspect of their businesses. The system does it for them — and helps them to think ahead. It learns, makes decisions and takes action when it counts.

Ready for the data-driven restaurant?

For years, the hospitality sector has lagged behind in terms of tech. So often, systems and apps have simply been electronic reproductions of traditional processes. But 2022 will see a genuine change happening across the industry, as data becomes the bread and butter of hospitality.

Fortunately, the arrival of Next-Gen tech via the cloud means that restaurants can transform their operations quickly and cost-effectively. A new, ultra-agile business mode of operating is starting to take shape for hospitality.