A new generation of young casual diners want more digital experiences in restaurants, research from SaaS tech company Eagle Eye has found.

Under-35s report regularly using their smartphone in restaurants, yet hardly ever to interact with the restaurant itself, with a demand for restaurants to offer a more mobile customer experience.

Surveying more than 2,000 consumers, the results found that 16 – 24 year olds frequently use their phone in a restaurant to take photos of friends or their food (37%), or check social media (41%) – but just 16% had redeemed a promotion and 10% paid for a bill via their mobile.

Regular diners (more than once a week) were significantly more likely to use social media (32% versus 14%) than rare diners (less than once a month).

Tim Mason chief executive of Eagle Eye said: “As dining out moves from a special occasion event to a more common but casual affair, mobile phones are becoming more common at the restaurant table, particularly amongst young people.

“However, restaurants are not tapping into this digital opportunity, with very few consumers reporting using their smartphone in a restaurant to actually improve their dining experience.”

The research also identifies customers – particularly those under 35 - are keen to interact more with restaurants through their mobile.

Whilst 65% of consumers across age groups were keen to be sent discount vouchers to their mobile while in the restaurant, this rose to 85% of 25-34s and 79% of 16-24s.

Meanwhile, when asked about a restaurant app that would make paying and redeeming promotions easier when dining out, 55% of all consumers said they would find this helpful.

This was much higher in younger groups, with three quarters of 25 – 34s and 68% of 16-24s responding positively.

When asked how their restaurant experience could be enhanced, nearly a third (32%) of consumers overall said they would like to receive personalised promotions based on previous purchases to their mobile when they enter the restaurant. This rose to 39% in 16-24s and 42% in 25-34s.

Mason added: “Restaurants are currently suffering a digital disconnect when it comes to the customer experience.

“Mobile-savvy consumers are already keen to interact with restaurants to improve their customer experience. This is a great opportunity for restaurants to speak directly to their customer and gain valuable insight and data which will help improve customer experience and drive sales in future.