Purpose This paper investigates the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated service innovation in the restaurant sector. It explores the use of digital technologies (DT) as a safety-empowerment and resilient strategy in the food-service industry during the pandemic. It also investigates the impact of DT on customers' risk perception (CRP) and customers' intention to go to restaurants (CIR) in Italy. Design/methodology/approach Based on the theory of planned behaviour and perceived risk theory, this study investigates a sample of customers residing in Italy. Multiple regression and mediation analyses are conducted to test the research hypotheses, adapting the logic model developed. Using the bootstrapping technique, this study also explores whether the pandemic has moderated the relationship among several variables adapted from the literature. Robustness tests are also performed to corroborate the analysis. Findings The pandemic has accelerated the food-service industry's digital transformation, forcing restauranteurs to implement DT to survive. Findings show that DT support restauranteurs in implementing innovative services that reduce interactions and empower cleanliness among workers and customers, reducing CRP and preserving CIR. Thus, managing risk perception is helping the restaurant sector to recover. Practical implications Practical implications are presented for policymakers to catalyse the digital transformation in small- and medium-sized restaurants. The results may also be beneficial for entrepreneurs who can implement innovative service practices in order to reduce interaction and empower cleanliness levels. Moreover, academics can use these results to conduct similar research in other geographical contexts. Originality/value The present research represents the first study investigating the relationship between the use of digital technologies and the intentions of customers to go out for dinner during the ongoing pandemic in Italy.

Service innovation in the restaurant sector during COVID-19: digital technologies to reduce customers' risk perception

Esposito, B;Sessa, MR;Sica, D;Malandrino, O
2022-01-01

Abstract

Purpose This paper investigates the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated service innovation in the restaurant sector. It explores the use of digital technologies (DT) as a safety-empowerment and resilient strategy in the food-service industry during the pandemic. It also investigates the impact of DT on customers' risk perception (CRP) and customers' intention to go to restaurants (CIR) in Italy. Design/methodology/approach Based on the theory of planned behaviour and perceived risk theory, this study investigates a sample of customers residing in Italy. Multiple regression and mediation analyses are conducted to test the research hypotheses, adapting the logic model developed. Using the bootstrapping technique, this study also explores whether the pandemic has moderated the relationship among several variables adapted from the literature. Robustness tests are also performed to corroborate the analysis. Findings The pandemic has accelerated the food-service industry's digital transformation, forcing restauranteurs to implement DT to survive. Findings show that DT support restauranteurs in implementing innovative services that reduce interactions and empower cleanliness among workers and customers, reducing CRP and preserving CIR. Thus, managing risk perception is helping the restaurant sector to recover. Practical implications Practical implications are presented for policymakers to catalyse the digital transformation in small- and medium-sized restaurants. The results may also be beneficial for entrepreneurs who can implement innovative service practices in order to reduce interaction and empower cleanliness levels. Moreover, academics can use these results to conduct similar research in other geographical contexts. Originality/value The present research represents the first study investigating the relationship between the use of digital technologies and the intentions of customers to go out for dinner during the ongoing pandemic in Italy.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4812894
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