The lines between traditional dining options on college campuses and the advancement of mobile ordering and delivery continue to blur. Today’s students have immense expectations. They remain un-swayed by the idea of traditional dining halls. And campus delivery and digital ordering are rapidly changing the pace and ways in which foodservice companies manage conventional dining halls. According to PYMNTS.com, “About 20 million students are projected to enroll in America’s colleges and universities in 2020. As such, there will be many mouths to feed — and many on-campus dining operators competing to do so. While some students may cook for themselves or grab a bite to eat off campus, many still rely on campus dining options for their meals, snacks, and drinks. The higher education foodservice industry was worth $18 billion in 2018 and is expected to hit $18.7 billion next year.” For that reason, more foodservice companies are rethinking their approaches to using food ordering technology and embracing this new normal.
Colleges Face Unprecedented Demand for Easier, Faster Ordering
Colleges and universities continue to face more pressure for faster, more comfortable ordering. Combined with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the pressure to offer socially distanced meals comes down to two options: eliminate traditional dining halls or better manage them. Moreover, applying food ordering technology can be extremely valuable for organizations with limited labor resources deriving from the pandemic or other obstacles. Think about it; if a campus can successfully deploy food ordering technology, it overcomes the barriers and obstacles present during the pandemic. Instead of guests and students spending time in shared spaces, the dining hall’s role can effectively move throughout the campus and enable more campus dining convenience.
Foodservice Companies Provide Food Ordering Technology to Campuses, Sporting Venues, and More
Since managing digital foodservice inherently means more volume and more frequent orders, it creates some concerns over being able to manage the process. However, as noted by a current Tacit client, Penn State University, “Some foodservice operators are hesitant that they couldn’t handle all the new digital orders and in-person orders, but it’s really helped to manage that initial rush better. And it cuts down on wait times and the lines, creating more convenience for everyone.”
The ability to apply food ordering technology to universities and all that entails also creates an immersive experience for users. As reported by Retail Dive, “The college space is particularly appealing for mobile ordering platforms because this is the generation that is driving the shift to mobile capabilities. It’s a fundamental part of their lifestyle – it’s how they have interacted with the world almost their whole lives.” Students and campus visitors and staff could use food ordering technology for meals between classes, have food delivered to the dorm rooms, request concessions at their favorite sporting events, and interact with foodservice companies in new, exciting ways. Remember that food ordering technology allows businesses to test new menu concepts and learn more about what users want from experience. In a sense, this goes back to better inventory management of ingredients, improved kitchen workflows, and a more cohesive, effective, and cost-conscience business model.
Ways Food Ordering Technology Improves Student and Visitor Experiences
Applying food ordering technology further can improve student and visitor experiences in unique ways. And as technology advances, how the typical student or visitor orders will rapidly change. Consider this example, as explained by Wayne D’Orio of Education Dive, “While she’s walking to class, her food is being prepared, stored safely inside a robot — essentially a cooler with wheels and autonomous driving capabilities — and sent to her destination. When she arrives, the robot is waiting outside the building. She unlocks the device using a mobile app and a code unique to her order, removes her hot food, and proceeds to class right on time.”
FoodService Director magazine reported some top ways digital food ordering technology improves student, and visitor experiences include:
- Improved occupancy and conditions monitoring reduces the risk of congestion in the dining hall and allows foodservice companies to continue operating at maximum productivity without sacrificing health.
- Apply filtering functions to find favorite items and menu choices faster, reducing the time it takes to place and receive an order.
- Obtain and apply two-way feedback to continuously improve menu options and maintain more transparency into demand, financial data, student preferences, and other factors to prove value to college administrators and decision-makers.
- An easy-to-read interface is perfect for students with disabilities or other concerns, like ethically sourced meats or full ingredient lists, all of which continue to create a new standard for college dining and improve foodservice companies’ value.
Create a Future-Proof Dining Plan With the Right Food Ordering Technology Partner
A future-proof dining plan revolves around technology. And it is key to maximizing the value of foodservice companies and creating better experiences for everyone involved. As further noted by a Tacit client, “Our abilities to offer and use digital food ordering technology are all the rage among our students and staff. Instead of trying to manage foodservice based on a hodge-podge of student schedules and waiting on students to visit a brick-and-mortar dining hall, we have turned to a digital ordering model. Now, students enjoy the freedom to place and pay for their food on the go. By partnering with student services or local delivery providers, we have successfully become a more active participant on campus and encourage students’ growing minds—all while still maximizing our profit margins and reducing overhead with less dining hall congestion.” Become part of the socially distanced, sustainable foodservice trend by partnering with a reliable online ordering platform, integrated with the Point of Sale, aggregators and loyalty systems will drive results, zero downtime, and maximum efficiency. Find out how to get started by visiting Tacit online today.