Operating restaurants is difficult. I know that because I have been doing it for decades. In fact, 2022 marks my 30th year in restaurant operations. I have been fortunate to work for some of the largest brands in the world, including Pizza Hut, Tim Hortons, and in my current role as Vice President of Digital at HMSHost, the industry leader and expert in food and beverage operations for travel venues.

“To operate a restaurant in today’s environment, there are key pieces of technology that you must have. QR Codes, self-checkout solutions, and self-order kiosks are some of the tools that became commonplace for restaurateurs and retailers during the pandemic.”

Operating restaurants in airports presents unique challenges. Weather, flight delays, cancellations, and the logistics of security plus small spaces are just some of the added challenges our operators face every day. With that in mind, how can we use technology to provide an even better experience for today’s travelers? 

To operate a restaurant in today’s environment, there are key pieces of technology that you must have. QR Codes, self-checkout solutions, and self-order kiosks are some of the tools that became commonplace for restaurateurs and retailers during the pandemic. HMSHost is no different – we have QR code technology in over 185 casual dine and QSR restaurants in our portfolio across North America. In 2021, QR codes accounted for nearly 1.8 million transactions in HMSHost airport restaurants. Our self-checkout solution, Mashgin technology, provided lightning-fast transaction speeds to over 1 million travelers. Moreover, our self-order kiosks shifted from 10 percent of overall transactions in 2019 to over 30 percent of transactions in 2021. There is no question that traditional forms of restaurant technology are also impacting restaurants in non-traditional environments such as airports.

The airport environment offers an even greater opportunity to utilize technology, and HMSHost is working to implement dining options into the digitized travel journey. Virtually everyone in the airport has their own device, and many books their entire travel journey – from researching where to go to booking flights and scanning boarding passes – utilizing their own devices. 

One key digital goal for HMSHost in 2022 is to test how we can better integrate airport dining into the travel booking process. Imagine that as you book your flight and hotel, you also reserve your favorite table overlooking the tarmac to enjoy breakfast at an HMSHost restaurant during the journey.

Additionally, the HMSHost pilot program with UberEats is designed to allow travelers to browse menus and place their orders from the comfort of their Uber on the way to the airport. We are also developing a text-enabled platform to allow travelers to text us their order via an intuitive chatbot – ideally while waiting in security. Give HMSHost the heads up on what you would like, and we will have it waiting for you at the restaurant on your way to the gate. Want something from a restaurant in a different part of the airport? No problem! We will be testing food lockers to pick up orders from our restaurants at the airport. 

The future of airport dining is here. HMSHost is utilizing traditional restaurant technologies plus exciting, intuitive, device-enabled solutions to continue to enhance the airport dining experience.