The Future of Restaurant Tech
Webinar Key Takeaways
Meet the Speakers
Google is Helping Restaurants Reach Customers and Grow Visits
Wendy's Most Important Technology Investment: Its Global Restaurant Design
The Purpose of Technology is Competitive Advantage
View Key Takeaways
Watch the Webinar
Data is a Key Asset and a Source of Competitive Advantage
Consumer Behavior Has Changed Significantly
Nilanjan Mandal, Global Product Lead, Omnichannel Solutions, Google
Kevin Vasconi, Chief Information Officer, Wendy’s
Moderated by Joanna Fantozzi, Associate Editor, Nation’s Restaurant News/Restaurant Hospitality
Google’s data shows that dining customers are more reliant today on online searches to make mealtime decisions. Nilanjan Mandal said that over the past few years there has been a significant increase in food- and beverage-related searches on Google Search as well as Google Maps. Specifically, this summer Google has seen:
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“We have 52 company restaurants, making us the largest operator of the restaurant brand. So, we are right there next to the franchisee. We know exactly what it takes to run them and what it takes to build them and what the challenges are, be they labor or food or whatever.”
- Scott Deviney, CEO, Chicken Salad Chick
The pandemic has driven a huge increase in restaurant-related online searches
Source for stats: Google Data, Global English, Jun 14, 2022 - Aug 12, 2022 vs Jun 14, 2021 - Aug 12, 2021
“Your digital presence has never been more critical to driving in-store experiences.”
- Nilanjan Mandal, Google
Searches for "restaurants open now" grew globally by more than 600% year over year
Searches for "cheap restaurants for a group" grew globally by more than 200% year over year
Searches for "top rated restaurants" grew globally by more than 500% year over year
Whether it’s finding a new place to eat or just checking the hours of an old favorite, people will continue to look online when making meal and dining decisions.
Growth in online searches for, “restaurants open now”
Google’s Nilanjan Mandal Discussing Measuring Turnover
In response to a question about what three things restaurant advertisers should be focused on today, Nilanjan Mandal of Google said:
Automation. Take advantage of solutions that bring automation into digital outreach.
Omnichannel Presence. Customers appreciate both the convenience of digital channels and the relationships formed when interacting in person. Your presence in both worlds is essential to form a holistic relationship.
Omnichannel presence. Customers appreciate both the convenience of digital channels and the relationships formed when interacting in person. Your presence in both worlds is essential to form a holistic relationship.
In-store Measurement. Since customers search online for restaurants like yours, connect your online ads to the in-store actions that matter to your business, whether that’s foot traffic or in-store sales.
Knowing that consumers are looking online for information about restaurants, Google has developed tools to help restaurants connect with potential customers and provide relevant information.
Performance Max campaigns help restaurants deliver ads to reach diners located nearby or showing interest in restaurants like yours. These ads will connect you to consumers on YouTube, Search, Google Maps, and Gmail to help you drive more visits.
Performance Max campaigns help:
Showcase your options, like takeout, delivery, curbside pickup, or drive-thru
Support specific locations, like top-performing or new stores
Launch special promotions and menu items
The best part of Performance Max campaigns is the measurement, which shows the impact and return from your advertising at driving visits and in-store sales.
New Performance Max campaigns use automation to target ads and drive growth
Wendy’s most important technology investment is its new global restaurant design, said Kevin Vasconi, Wendy’s CIO.
The new global restaurant design “brings it all together”
“It’s a fairly reasonable way to get new guests in your restaurant, partly because third-party delivery is bringing them there.”
He knows that on its surface, restaurant design may not sound like a technology investment, but the new restaurant design reflects innovation and bringing technology together. This includes technology for operations, for marketing, and to serve consumers.
“We’ve got handheld [technology], point of sale, we’ve got manager tablets, we’ve got inventory on the cell phone, we’ve got a new back office system, we’ve got a design kiosk . . . each and every one of those things in and of itself is not the core of what we’re doing here. The magic is we brought them all together.”
- Kevin Vasconi, CIO, Wendy’s
Bringing together all of Wendy’s technology enables the company to better serve consumers and deliver outstanding customer experiences. It improves Wendy’s ability to provide delivery, operate efficiently, market effectively, and manage the company’s supply chain.
Kevin Vasconi Discussing Wendy’s Most Important Technology Investment
Kevin Vasconi termed himself and Wendy’s as “being customer obsessed.” This obsession with customers is a driver of technology decisions. Wendy’s doesn’t implement technology just to implement technology; it does so to serve customers better, solve problems, deliver a better customer experience, and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Current and future uses of technologies at Wendy’s include:
Every technology should have a clear purpose and solve a key problem
“How do I make technology support the consumer experience, no matter what channel, without a bunch of friction and without technology being in your face?”
“What technology can provide a competitive advantage for your company?”
Omnichannel. Wendy’s wants to give customers choices and options, which means providing a great experience in person, via drive thru, using the mobile app, on a desktop, or via any other means. This requires technology and data.
Delivery. During the pandemic, Wendy’s, like other restaurant companies, shifted from in-store consumption to delivery. Providing the best possible customer delivery experience is enabled by technology.
Enabling Employees. In addition to using technology to focus on the customer experience, a main use of technology is to make employees’ jobs easier, so they can enjoy their job and can spend more time with customers. Automation will play a key role here.
AI. There are multiple future applications of AI in QSRs that can help solve real-world business problems. Future applications include voice and vision AI, which will help improve speed and accuracy.
Metaverse. Wendy’s is excited about the Metaverse for multiple applications such as employee training and in marketing to a new generation of consumers.
It has been said “data is the new oil” in that it is the critical resource that will fuel the next era of business. While data is probably one of a company’s most important assets, for many companies it is unused or underutilized.
As a quick service restaurant, the ability to use data about a customer to provide some level of personalization can make a tremendous difference. It can show the consumer that you care.
Data can be used to improve the customer experience, the employee experience, operations, decision making, marketing, forecasting, purchasing, supply chain, and more.
Restaurants can use data to personalize the customer experience
“The more data that we have, the better the experience we can build. And the more data we have, the better we can run our restaurants.”
“I think companies that use data effectively have a clear competitive advantage over those who don’t.”
Kevin Vasconi Discussing the Importance of Data
Global Product Lead, Omnichannel Solutions
Nilanjan is a Global Product Lead for Online to Offline based solutions, working specifically on Omnichannel bidding. He has been with Google for 3.5 years and has worked as a specialist on Search Advertising and as a Strategist for High Potential Agencies. With a Master's in Business Administration specializing in Marketing, Nilanjan is passionate about automation in digital advertising, and is always eager to help advertisers extract the best possible value from their digital advertising investments.
Chief Information Officer
Kevin joined Wendy’s as our Chief Information Officer in 2020. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of Wendy’s global technology efforts, including Consumer-facing Digital, Restaurant Technology, Enterprise Architecture and Technology, and Information Security.
He has been recognized in the Top 10 ofNation’s Restaurant News’Power List for his technology and innovation leadership, overseeing the team that spearheaded digital innovations that changed the pizza landscape and have served as inspiration for the broader QSR category.
Joanna Fantozzi - Moderator
Nation's Restaurant News/Restaurant Hospitality
Vice President & General Manager, Vertiv
Patrick Quirk directs strategy for our global embedded firmware operations and now leads converged systems business. Prior to Vertiv, he served in leadership roles for telecommunications and semiconductor technology companies in the US and Europe.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. She covers political/cultural issues and news for both publications and has more than seven years of experience writing about the restaurant industry. Her editorial coverage ranges from independent restaurants around the country to some of the biggest brands in food and beverage, including Starbucks, Domino’s, and Papa John’s. Joanna’s work has also appeared in Business Insider, The Daily Meal, Forbes, and Vice.
Watch the WEbinar
Kevin Vasconi, chief information officer for Wendy's, joins CREATE to share a closer look at how the burger brand is making major investments in both employee- and consumer-facing tech. Hear what trends Vasconi, who previously helped build Domino’s into a tech leader, is watching now and how digital innovation, AI, automation and the metaverse are transforming the restaurant experience.
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