The National Restaurant Association will host the inaugural Restaurant Innovation Summit this fall as a way to offer restaurant operators ideas to better engage guests through emerging technology.

“Our goal is to ensure that restaurant operators at all levels and company sizes can share and will walk away with a competitive advantage,” says John C. Metz Jr., chairman of the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors’ Profitability and Entrepreneurship Committee. “The summit will help them understand the various technological options, costs, and applications as well as how best to collaborate throughout their companies. As a result, they will be able to use the technology more effectively.”

The summit, to be held Oct. 23-24 in Denver, will feature sessions on mobile payment, enabling in-store customer interaction, maximizing out-of-store interaction and leveraging big data. The sessions will help attendees decide which innovation investments will provide the biggest return for their organizations. The two-day event is expected to draw finance, marketing, operations, IT and treasury professionals from across the industry.

A gap exists between what technological options consumers want and what restaurants offer, according to National Restaurant Association research. New Association research shows that restaurateurs in every segment of the industry are looking to invest more time and resources into new, customer-facing technology.

Fifty-four percent of restaurant owners say they'll invest more in technology in 2013, according to the Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Most will employ technology to enhance the basic customer interaction with restaurants – both onsite and online.