Keeping a large body of people fed is no easy feat. Having a variety of offerings to please widely diverse palettes while also getting people fed quickly and efficiently can be challenging! Small wonder that university dining complaints range from quality to speed of service. But with the right technology, you can overcome issues at your facility and improve student and faculty satisfaction and retention in the process.
Here are 5 common complaints and the university dining technology that can help you overcome them:
Limited Hours of Operation
For as long as educational campuses have existed, food service has been largely planned around three main meals a day, supplemented by traditional vending machines and (if students are lucky) snack shops open in the evenings and weekends.
While this might work for the majority of students and faculty, it’s clunky, at best. It creates high-volume bottlenecks and completely fails to address the need people may have for substantial meals outside of the model. For example, working students may not be able to get to the dining hall for dinner, but need a good meal after working a late shift. Faculty working late or dealing with class and meeting-heavy schedules might not be able to get away when traditional food services are available.
The university dining technology available to you from 365 Retail Markets transcends this with self-checkout dining options, micro markets, and smart vending. These are unattended retail solutions, which means students and faculty checkout themselves. Self-checkout technology can be operated 24/7 since there is no need for staff. This ensures that students and faculty alike have access to a wide variety of hot and cold dining selections whenever they need it.
Poor Selection and Lack of Variety
24/7 checkout solutions are worthless without good product variety. Most university mass-dining systems simply aren’t conducive to offering a wide selection of entrees, snacks, or beverages. This can end up leaving staff and students alike feeling less-than-satisfied with the offerings available. Smart university dining technology overcomes this by supplementing mass dining options with smart markets that have alternatives across the board. From fresh salads to sandwiches and juices plus everything in between, our points of sale can be stocked with almost any product. So, if your patron isn’t feeling the menu of the day, they still have a satisfying options to choose from.
Don’t want to manage the technology or product inventory yourself? We can bring in an operator to service it for you. Operator-managed tech is even more successful in improving satisfaction with the variety and types of options available at your institution. Operators can leverage everything from inventory insights to student requests to improve people’s perceptions about the quality and variety of campus food options.
Long Waits During High Demand Times
Do you know how long your students are waiting for food? One article about university dining wait times found that students were waiting up to 30 minutes just to get their food.
It’s difficult to improve wait times with conventional technology, too, as classes generally start and end at the same time of day. It’s not ideal for the level of staggering needed to eliminate long wait times.
365 Retail Markets university dining technology addresses this with a holistic approach to university dining. For example, with a Connected Campus, food is available to students and faculty when and where it’s most convenient to them in both attended and unattended forms, from micro markets to smart stores, smart vending, and cafeterias.
In addition to offering inherently faster checkout processes, tech can help you manage demand. Our app allows students and faculty to order ahead, giving your team (or your 365 Retail Markets operator) the ability to better manage demand and supply during high-volume hours.
Can’t Accommodate Special Dietary Needs
According to 2021 data, four out of 10 Americans follow some sort of special dietary restriction, from needing lactose and gluten-free options to limiting (or eliminating) meat consumption, food allergies, and more.
Traditional food service on college and university campuses has to be geared for mass consumption, because accommodating special dietary needs isn’t cost-effective at scale.
Once again, technology can come to the rescue! Not only can you leverage smart vending options campus wide with offerings that accommodate dietary restrictions, but it can also be managed in a completely cost-effective way by our operators.
In addition, students and faculty that have questions about ingredients can get information from labels and the app on their smartphones. This eliminates the need for them to ask your staff for details or risk ingesting something they don’t want to eat or could potentially harm them, such as a food allergen.
Not Enough Healthy Eating Options
According to Fast Casual, 46% of consumers plan to eat healthier overall, and even more, 49%, will be ordering healthier food for delivery. And this phenomenon isn’t limited to any one age group. 48% of 18 to 24-year-olds cited it as a top priority in 2022.
The variety of tech-enabled dining, vending, cafeteria, smart coolers, and marketplace options available with a custom 365 Retail Markets solution is the answer. It gives students and faculty 24/7/365 access to fresh fruit, vegetables, salads, fresh-made sandwiches, and much more, throughout your campus.
We’re already working with operators in your area that can help design a custom, tech-rich dining solution for your college or university campus. Reach out for a free, no-obligation conversation today to get started.