Over half of millennials would dine in a restaurant where aspects of service are automated, with many convinced that kitchen robots are the future when eating out.
That’s according to a new report tracking the drivers most likely to shape the restaurant sector of tomorrow.
The survey, sponsored by workforce collaboration firm Planday, suggests that millennials are comfortable with the idea of embracing robots and automation.
The majority of UK millennials say they are ready for some restaurant services to be delivered by robots, allowing staff to focus on important ‘human’ interactions.
52% indicated they would dine in a restaurant where ordering and payments are fully automated, compared to only 39% of Gen X diners.
Over two thirds of millennials (71%) say they wouldn’t be against their food being delivered by a robot.
However, they still crave human interaction in their dining experiences as over half (51%) would still like to give a compliment or complaint to a person rather than a machine.
Meanwhile, the survey also revealed that millennials are shifting around £1 billion in spend a year to delivery services.
A fifth of millennials (compared to 9% Gen X) say they go out less to restaurants now because they are getting more food delivered that they would previously have gone out to eat.
Only 9% now say they are likely to make restaurant bookings and are willing to spend on average 14% less than Gen X on a meal.
Consumer tastes are changing as millennials see a future where plant-based, environmentally friendly approach will win out over traditionally unhealthy fast foods.
Nearly half predict vegan restaurants will be the most in demand in the next two years.
In fact, 75% thought at least one of the following types of restaurants would be most in demand: vegan, vegetarian or those with good environmental credentials.
In comparison only 25% thought fast food restaurants will be in the most demand over the next two years.
Nearly half (47%) of all respondents placed reduced food waste as their top sustainable priority. Only 11% of consumers indicated that sustainability didn’t matter to them.
John Coldicutt, chief commercial officer for Planday, said: “The UK restaurant sector has seen multiple high-profile closures in the last 12 months, as well-established chains struggle to correctly predict and match market demand. This survey gives us insight into the complex and changing consumer expectations, from younger to older diners, contributing to this challenging environment.
“We know from our own customer base that things are only likely to get less predictable as just under two thirds (63%) of our customers who are restaurant managers expect the percentage of food orders from online delivery services to increase over the next year. In order to stay competitive and profitable, restaurants need to listen to changing consumer preferences and use the available technologies to cater to an increasingly unpredictable environment.”