Amidst the steady hum of the coffee machine and the swift pace of orders being punched into an iPad, children sit at a makeshift benchtop accessing the latest apps, and mastering the art of Fruit Ninja courtesy of further tablets on fixed stands.
It’s part of the new wave of hospitality where technology allows vendors to offer speed of ordering, convenient payments and something beyond food and beverages, where there’s a consumer experience to entice.
It all comes down to the trusty tablet that’s performing far more than the role of mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), instead acting as a business tool, a reason for consumers to visit, and a prompt for them to stay on and relax in comfortable surrounds.
So here’s an insight into how and why tablets are transforming the restaurant experience, and how your business can actively embrace the trend.
The rise of the mobile in hospitality
A recent survey of US and UK hospitality operators by Oracle found 89% of US and UK hospitality operators are looking to tablets in the future, with 39% actively investigating their implementation now.
And, with a suite of available mPOS apps, it’s little surprise the chosen device for point of sale in hospitality is fast becoming the tablet.
The inherent mobile convenience of tablets offers options like ordering tableside, automatic bill reconciliation, easy restocking and shift scheduling from afar.
“We know that tablets and mobile POS clients improve speed of service and enhance the guest experience. We also know mobile reporting delivers the capability to make immediate business decisions with real-time analytics,” Oracle explains.
Their statistics indicate 68% of hospitality operators using mobile technology experienced faster service, while 43% recorded fewer guest complaints
But while mPOS is the major reason, it’s not the only factor drawing the hospitality sector to tablets.
Hospitality operators looking to add tablets to store 89%
Actively invested in tablets 39%
Indicated faster service after investement 68%
Indicated fewer complaints after investement 43%
Beyond the POS
Interestingly it’s not just Point of Sale that makes mobile technology attractive. It’s also being employed to engage customers, train staff and to manage proceedings back of house. So let’s take a look at further uses for the tablet.
Tableside ordering and payments
With their wireless capability, tablets offer a natural versatility when it comes to taking the order pad to the consumer, with dockets relayed directly to the kitchen or bar.
In the hospitality environment it eliminates the need for double-handling allowing servers to enter details tableside and then move along.
In real-term results one restaurant told Hospitality Tech it allowed their servers 15% more time on the floor.
“This resulted in servers delivering quality service to more tables, approximately two more per hour—sometimes more.”
And in an unexpected payoff it reduced errors from the kitchen, and increased consumer spend by $2 an order due to the attentive service of staff.
As early as 2010, restaurants were embracing the functionality of the tablet with Sydney restaurant Mundo Global Tapas amongst the first to roll out iPads instead of standard menus.
At the time they noted benefits included allowing images for every dish, updating pricing, and quickly responding to menu fluctuations. It also allowed diners to specify how they preferred their item to be cooked.
In the competitive hospitality industry a point of difference that draws customers in is a welcome addition, and for many that service is being provided by tablets.
Whether it’s a simple bench of tablets for customers to check their emails or a feature of a restaurant playroom allowing children to be entertained, tablets for consumers go a step beyond the now expected Wi-Fi.
Meanwhile, Toast explains tablets provide an effective way to train a changing workforce where millennials will comprise 70% of staff by 2020, and learn in an entirely different way.
They note tablets offer additional learning tools like video, gaming and traditional style training to better engage a young, tech-savvy workforce.
“Kitchen staff, for example, can log in on a tablet while working at a prep table, look at a recipe, and find the answers they need without going to a manager. Not only does this answer millennials’ need for independence, but it also reduces the costs associated with printing and distributing training materials,” they explain.
The final word
Just as the tablet is making its presence felt in retail and the office, its mobility, real-time connectivity and a suite of available hospitality apps are making it a fixture in restaurants.
The key is knowing how to best use it to gain operational efficiency, and better serve a client’s needs. Learn more about securing your tablet in the hospitality environment with our range of enclosures and stands.