Monte Silva Shift Happens.

When we create product, we should do so to illicit emotions and memories from smell and taste senses. 

Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important

AI, ghost kitchens, and robots are great. But they're nothing if they don't improve guest experience.

Are you hearing a lot about figuring out NFTs, implementing ghost kitchens, offering takeout and delivery, becoming great story tellers, and integrating AI and robots? If you are like me that’s probably all you’ve heard about of late. And there is a reason why we hear these things. They can be fantastic tools to increase sales and provide great experiences if used properly.

While these are all great new options to implement, they mean nothing if they don’t translate to a great experience. Just like the other things we focus a lot of attention on like our product and service, these other things should be an add value to what’s most important—making the guest FEEL their experience.

We can create incredible product. We can impress people with our impeccable service. We can utilize ghost kitchens, takeout, and story telling to help get our message out and increase sales and profits. But, the one thing we can’t replace is the human connection of hospitality where we create a warm and fuzzy spot in another person’s soul.

When we create product, we should do so to illicit emotions and memories from smell and taste senses. Let me explain what I mean. When we can get the guest to see, smell, taste, hear, and feel their experience we can create great experiences. Why is this important? It’s important because when we illicit a guest’s senses it triggers memory. The brain is searching its data base to determine where it has smelled that scent, or tasted that item. So, it recalls past experiences.

For instance, anytime I see and smell rose pedals in a cocktail, I immediately think of my grandma’s pot puree. And then I remember how loving my grandma was and how I felt loved by her. It takes me to a happy place.  I then have emotions of love and feeling loved by her.  Likewise, if NFTs and AI help us create emotional connections and sense  of belonging then absolutely we should use them.

These new and shiny ideas MUST help us drive guests to our restaurant and help us drive sales and profit. However, if HUMAN TOUCH isn’t still the main point of it all, nothing we do really matters. 

When it comes to story telling, if we get more people to come through our doors but we can’t create exceptional experiences, then all we did is tell more people we suck. If robots or AI replace the human connection, we will not be successful. If our takeout and delivery is just mediocre and we aren’t focused on creating great experiences for our take out guests then we won’t be successful.

The bottom line is, use these shiny new gadgets if they attract a bigger audience, drive more sales, and result in exceptional experiences. But don’t think these new gadgets and strategies are going to work if it replaces human connection or disguises poor experiences. Our guests   are smart enough to read through the hype and say, I am underwhelmed by this experience even if you tried using all the tools all the cool kids are talking about.

Editor's note: This is the 12th article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,' is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. And the 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here.