Here are some of my thoughts on the restaurant experience of the future. This post includes nothing on digital menu boards, but is mostly a post about the potential power of tablet menus. I would really like feedback on this one…
Social media integration with handheld tablet restaurant menus will be of supreme importance. Let me paint a scenario for you. You are visiting the restaurant and the waiter offers to seat you. Before he does so, he gives the restaurant menu tablet a couple of taps indicating which table you will be sitting at (that way, when you order the waiter and the chef both know which ordered items go with which table). After he seats you, you are given the digital tablet menus and told, “feel free to use the tablet to pick what you want and order directly from the device.” I’ll be back, but if you need me just TWEET me, using the tablet (here is where Twitter comes in). Then, he walks away.
While you are sitting there, you are able to see various menu items on the tablet. Each item has a particular feed which allows the user to see what items are the most popular and why and which items need some help and why. This feedback is coming from an RSS or database which is tied to the corporate website, allowing customers to give their feedback post-facto.
Once you’ve decided what to order you simply input your credit card number via the iPad or Android tablet. The device asks you whether you want to leave a 15% gratuity. If you are in a large group, the menu will do it automatically. Once your card has been charged and the order has been processed, the network then sends the information to an LCD screen near the chef who begins to immediately work on your order (keep in mind that the ordering process could also be streamlined if tablets were handed to waiting customers in the event that the restaurant was overly busy).
After you have ordered the menu says, leave us feedback and prompts you to enter your email address. Once you do, you will receive an email encouraging you to give feedback on sites like Facebook, Yelp and the company’s own website (the information from the company’s website will allow the business to find out which items are most popular and thus adjust their tablet menus accordingly). Once you’ve given your feedback, the restaurant may give you a link to a coupon on Groupon which would encourage you to return. The information feedback loop will allow the owners of the restaurant to make better informed decisions.
If your restaurant offers take-out or catering services, just have an iPhone, iPad or Android app that anyone can download and order something on their way to the restaurant and have it ready when you pick it up. Or if the line is long, order before you are seated. The process is sped up for you and the restaurant. Saving time and money. The restaurant may even be able to reduce or eliminate headcount because the devices will increase overall speed and productivity.