QR codes used in the restaurant to order – Courtesy of: Shutterstock – Image of Fevziie
QR codes are not a new technology. Responsive barcodes were invented in 1994 to keep track of auto parts. Today, some digital friendly restaurant establishments have started using codes as a way to allow customers to browse menus, order and pay directly from their tables. However, QR codes have become the norm during the pandemic, as many restaurants and bars have removed print menus from their establishments and embraced the ease of touchless ordering.
In most restaurants, customers simply take out their smartphone, open the camera and point it at the QR code, which provides a direct link to the restaurant’s menu. But a property of the Innisfree portfolio of hotels, the Pensacola Beach Hilton, has gone beyond the utilitarian use of QR codes and taken things to the next level.
When a caterer visits one of the restaurants on the property, they will find that the usual menu is linked with detailed videos of the selected drinks and dishes so they can see how the items are prepared.
“When the COVID pandemic encouraged us to activate QR codes as a contactless method of accessing restaurant menus, we saw that our guests started to embrace the use of QR codes, so we started thinking about other creative ways to leverage this technology to improve our business,” said Scott Ford, director of marketing at Innisfree Hotels.
As a foodie, Ford thought a video depicting the preparation of the dish from start to finish would be a unique way to bring entertainment value to customers, while bringing them digitally straight into the chef’s kitchen.
Videos are currently available at upscale sushi restaurant, Bonsai, where diners can immerse themselves in a video showing the preparation of the restaurant’s signature dish, smoked tuna-nut rolls. At Sal De Mar, Hilton’s beloved pool deck bar, patrons can use a QR code to watch a video of the bartenders making 40 ounces of delicious strawberry jalapeño margarita.
Each video is short and professionally edited, and diners are asked to view it through callout boxes placed next to QR codes. The hickory tuna roll video runs in just under a minute, and the margarita video is just 33 seconds long! It’s fun to watch, but more importantly, it helps move the items on the list.
“Customers love the new QR code concept, and we’ve seen a huge increase in requests for featured video items on the menu,” Ford said.
He adds that expanding the videos to other menu items is the next stage of the strategy, but not for every item as this can cause it to lose freshness and fatigue customers.
“We feel this provides a unique experience for some of the select dishes, but it’s possible that the menu filled with QR codes is overkill and may leave out the guest experience,” Ford said. “The plan is to limit QR code video elements to three or four dishes and maybe one or two cocktails per restaurant menu.”
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Born and raised in South Florida, Crystal recently graduated from the University of Miami and has professional writing experience both at the college level and at the level of national news outlets. She is a foodie who loves all things travel, the beach, and visiting new places around Florida.