The use of tablet devices in the food and drink service sector has been growing for some time. This blog looks at some of the ways in which they can be utilised to improve the dining or drinking experience for customers, make life easier for staff and managers, and how to overcome some of the practical considerations and risks that this new technology brings.
1. Could table tablets mean the end of bar queues?
On a busy night out, you can sometimes spend more time queuing at the bar than you do with the people you’re there with. Having tablet devices on each table or in every booth means that customers can order their drink, or bar snacks, without even having to leave their seats. In a restaurant setting, customers can order food and drinks at their own pace with their table tablet, browsing a digital menu and having the option to delve into nutritional and allergy information with a couple of finger swipes. This puts less demand on waiting staff and can reduce waiting time for meals too.
2. Cashless payments anywhere on the premises
Tablets on tables isn’t just a handy way to order, customers can also use them as online payment gateways, offering an easy and quick way to pay their bill without the, sometimes very frustrating, wait for a member of staff to become free; great for those who prefer to go cashless when they eat out or have a few drinks.
3. Bill splitting made easy
These are apps available to use in restaurants, cafes and bars that can instantly split the bill if members of the party are paying separately; something that would have required a member of waiting staff to handle previously. If this is managed by tablet on the table, it can make a big impact on staff efficiency and productivity.
4. Games and promotions ahoy
Marketing in cafes, restaurants and bars used to comprise of little more than branded beermats, posters in WCs and leaflets stuffed into menu holders. With the dawn of mountable tablet device, a whole new world of opportunity has opened within the hospitality industry. You can use tablets to communicate marketing messages directly to consumers as they order, including special offers and ‘upgrades; to help drive extra spend and help your customers feel that they’re getting a good deal too. Some family-oriented restaurant chains load up their tablets with games that their customers can play (for a small price) at their table, helping to generate a little more income.
5. Unparalleled customer insights via tablet use
Along with messaging about promotions and offers, tablets can also be used in these settings for gathering opted-in data about your customers. Competitions, loyalty schemes and reviews can all give you a huge amount of information about your target market, on top of the data you gather about their food and drink buying habits at different days, times and seasons. This data can be used to shape future business or service changes, direct marketing activity and help you better understand your customers.
Risks and other considerations
Incorporating tablet devices into your restaurant, bar or café could be a great move for your business, but isn’t without its risks. How can you minimise the chances of theft, tampering or damage in such a busy environment? The answer is with secure tablet mounts that help to protect devices from being stolen or damaged.
Other considerations include worries over whether using tablets to replace some of the duties of waiting staff will mean a loss of tips or even jobs, however, widespread use in the U.S. has shown that tips have stayed at the same level as normal or increased, as tablets make tipping really easy for customers, with single click options available when paying by tablet for their meal.
All of these things are currently possible with existing tablets and apps, but what could be next for the use of tablet devices in the food and drink sector? Some think that customers having the ability to set their own music playlist at their table could be here soon, giving people more control over the atmosphere where they eat or drink. As the technology and their associated apps evolve, the possibilities are endless!
Securing tablets devices in the food and drink industry
One consideration for using tablets on tables in what are, essentially, unattended applications is the physical security of those devices. This is especially so where payments are concerned. Compliance with PCI best practice is essential, taking the necessary steps to ensure that the equipment can’t be tampered with and that a data breach cannot occur.
Protective and secure mounting options such as the OpenSpace range from Ergonomic Solutions for tablet devices used on tables or in bars for unattended public use. Tablet mounts and stands can also include secure docking stations, such as the OpenSpace A-Frame, or the K-Frame kiosk enclosure negating the requirement for removing the devices daily to charge elsewhere on the premises.