Preparing independent restaurateurs for the digital age

20 July 2018
The METRO Chair of Innovation released its latest research findings on creating an innovative learning community to support and motivate independent restaurateurs to participate in training on digital tools.
First EHL Study - How Digital is the Food Service Industry?

Independent restaurateurs are faced with rising pressure from large chain operators who are increasingly adopting technology solutions. Meanwhile, independent operators may not yet realise which competition they are facing for their own survival.

During the past two years the METRO Chair of Innovation has conducted basic research in the field of digitalisation of the European hospitality business. Two studies were published to this effect.

The first study from 2017 addressed the issue of how restaurateurs are using digital tools and if not, what are the reasons behind - How digital is the food service industry? In the second study, the research team around Professor Christine Demen Meier developed innovative learning concepts based on these findings, which are to reduce the hurdles such as lack of resources, time and inhibitions.

"The first study served as a 'heart rate monitor'. The research field of independent restaurateurs is not very well explored. We are changing this with our METRO-EHL cooperation. The scientific evidence according to which restaurateurs often avoid new technologies for lack of time, knowledge and resources was essential for us. It confirmed our previous assumptions in this regard", says Frédéric Schumacher, Director of Innovation at Hospitality Digital, a company of METRO AG.

Hotels, restaurants and caterers are a key customer group of METRO. The aim is to support restaurateurs in the integration of digital tools that simplify their work so that they have more time for those things that matter. Hospitality Digital offers digital tools such as a free website builder and an online reservation tool for restaurateurs. Demand is strong: more than 85,000 websites have already been created for restaurateurs. And they don’t need to be a METRO customer: this digital products are free of charge for everyone.

"With the recently released follow-up study, we dived even deeper to find solutions that start exactly at this point: What learning concepts and supports can we give restaurateurs so that they can keep their finger on the pulse of times and integrate learning into their everyday life with little use of resources?", says Schumacher.

The latest research focuses on the challenges for restaurateurs and their behaviours toward training to enable the creation of learning communities. This concept represents an innovative approach to train independent restaurateurs taking into account the perennial issues of lack of time and money they face, as well as their business challenges, topics of interest, current level of digitalisation and preferred training formats.