Mobile technology is rapidly changing the way that consumers interact with restaurants. In many ways, mobile technology also gives power to the consumers, with customers feeling like they can share their negative experiences instantly with their thousand online friends. There are also dozens of new apps that expand and streamline the dining experience and help restaurants engage in a more authentic way with consumers. With mobile technology, consumers can search endlessly for dining options using Zagat, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and CitySearch. Because of this tremendous access to information, dining decisions can be spontaneous, impulsive, and collaborative with friends. However, this flexibility leaves many restaurant owners furious as it often leads to reservation no-shows. In an effort to combat this, online reservation system OpenTable sends derisive emails to no-shows and also cancels OpenTable accounts to customers who no-show more than four times a year. Some restaurants are also cancelling their reservation systems in order to project excitement and boost income. The longer you wait for a table, the more you are willing to pay at the bar.
Casual chains like Applebee’s and Chili’s are offering mobile ordering options at the table, instead of the one-on-one interaction with a service in order to appeal to consumer’s desires of convenience and anonymity. It is also likely that in the future, new apps that allow customers to tally and pay their bill electronically will also be more prevalent. This is a convenience for servers as well as diners who don’t want to pay for their friend’s extra margarita.
How has mobile technology changed the way people dine out?
SOURCE: Bryan Millerwall, Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2013