What Do Modern Restaurants Really Need? 

05 June 2024

The largest hospitality event in Southeast Asia THAIFEX – HOREC Asia 2024 has recently been held at Impact Muang Thong Thani with 359 exhibiting companies from around the world and over 15,000 participants from 68 countries. The event incorporated hospitality innovation showcases, workshops, competitions, talks, and more. One of the interesting sessions was the Lightning Talks “What Do Modern Restaurants Really Need?”, sharing expert opinions on the challenges of the current dining landscape and the critical elements of success for a modern-day restaurant.

The talk moderated by John Lhor, Executive Director of External Affairs at Dusit Thani College, received much attention as it was a quick Q&A session that all experts had to express their ideas at once and it gathered top-notch professionals from different backgrounds together to complement all perspectives.

Starting with the top areas posing significant challenges to the modern-day restaurants, Prim Jitcharoongphorn, Chairman of the Executive Board, Allied Metals (Thailand) Co., Ltd., raised the issue of sustainability which covered climate change and labor shortage. She suggested combining the head, the heart, and technology to bring the best out of it. She also said sustainability is an upcoming trend for hospitality industry, so controlling waste, planning supplies and storage will give sustainable results. Before conclusion, she left an idea to differentiate what should be considered a cost or an investment because different perspectives can change the way we utilize resources.

Secondly, Simon Lloyd, Dean – Hospitality Management at Dusit Thani College and Board Member at International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education (THE-ICE), talked about the shortage of manpower that it has been a problem for hospitality industry for 30-40 years and technology starts to become a current trend to solve this problem more and more. While the fear of technological replacement is growing, humans, especially the next generation, are still the key to success by learning how to efficiently integrate technologies in their work and empowering them to innovate, ideate, and create. How to attract them to the industry is to fill excitement and joy in all of their experiences.

After that, Surasit Sachdev, CEO & Co-Founder of Hungry Hub, added that technology helps reduce costs and increase revenue in many ways, ranging from automation, online choices offered to bring in more customers, to a replacement to some areas of work. While the rising food cost is posing a challenge to restaurants, he believes that food is a fundamental need for humans and never loses its importance as long as it delivers good value, good story, and good services. He also mentioned the trend that people are willing to pay for ‘beautiful’ dining experience, so the task for all restaurants is to combine unique taste with photogenic appearance.

Following, Founder and CEO of Rev-Mantra Puneet Mahindroo shared his idea on the trend of food industry that food is now a means of expression that help positions people in the status they would like to present. That’s why restaurants should shift the mindset from giving customers what is right to giving what makes the customers feel the great value. He also suggested to keep on challenging yourself and the status quo to bring greater efficiency as well as better customer experience since today’s success is totally going to be obsolete tomorrow.

Later, Nattinee Plodthong, Senior Manager of Makro Horeca Academy, identified the issue of rising food costs and costs of living as a challenge to the industry. Based on the consumers’ perspective, she raised that people are saving more money and trying to find valuable food with the lower cost from restaurants. Selecting ingredients with the lowest cost is not a solution, Nattinee recommended choosing the products that balance their prices and values as well as improving overall management such as stock management, purchasing, sales prediction, and so on by involving technologies. These will let restaurants survive with bottom-line profit.

Lastly, Head Chef of Fuego Restaurant Roger Solé Masoliver agreed to the previous idea and came up with the concept of sourcing seasonal and local ingredients to both save the cost and the environment in general. He also supported that there is a thin line of cost-value balance that restaurants have to find out while designing menus in order to remain profitable at the lowest cost and serve reasonable food to customers. The trend of social media provides opportunities yet challenges for entrepreneurs to adapt. Roger said the combination of personalized experience and time-oriented operations will make consumers enjoyable. To conclude, he inspired the audience by confirming to believe in and have fun with what they do.




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