There’s a good chance if you frequent restaurants that you’ve noticed some of them have been trying out various ways to use technology. This might include games that you can play at your seat, options to occupy kids, or at some restaurants, the ability to pay your bill at your table.
In fact, as far as trends go, the United States is late in picking this one up. Head to a restaurant in Europe and Asia and when you’re ready to settle the tab, there’s a good chance a waiter will bring a machine straight to your table.
However, a movement is happening in the United States specifically in Los Angeles and New York where upscale restaurants, such as 71Above, are using tableside pay applications. The most popular system being used is run by a company called TableSafe and the application is called RAIL. The RAIL system resembles a sleek check folio, much like the ones you generally get with your receipt. However, these check folios are actually hiding a digital card processing machine. This machine allows you to view the bill, split it amongst the table, add your tip and even pay with separate cards.
The tableside pay situation is really a win-win situation for both the restaurants and consumers. From the restaurant’s point of view, this system takes the responsibility of handling payments away from the wait staff and put it directly in the customer’s hand. In addition, the restaurant often has fewer chargebacks because the tableside payment gets instant verification and guests can easily be propositioned to take surveys about their experience right then and there. Obviously, guests also enjoy having the ability to take care of their own bill since it allows them the ability to split it and pass it along to their friends. Not to mention, not having to give your card up, just feels nice in a world where online shopping and self-checkouts are so prominent.
Outside of the realms of 5-star restaurants, chains like Chili’s and Olive Garden are opting for a kiosk-type system called a Ziosk. This is a less classy system that offers the functionality of tableside pay, but also offers customers the ability to place orders at their table. At these establishments, the normal routine seems to be ordering the entre and anything else you’d like from the wait staff and then you’re left with the option to order appetizers, desserts, and drinks after (or sometimes before) your initial order. Unfortunately, these kiosk systems also offer entertainment in the form of games, trivia, and puzzles that are not only a tacky addition to the dinner table, but they’re a pretty penny to use. In addition, no parent wants to go for a relaxing night out at dinner and have to argue with their child about why they can’t play games.
With new technology, of course, there come new costs that restaurants are having to address. Not only do restaurants have to pay for initial device costs, but they then have to pay for software, damaged machines, and the electricity or batteries required to charge them. All of this is quite the investment for most restaurants which means, although this is coming, it’s going to be awhile until you open your check folio at any restaurant and see a machine.
David Brown is often called a ‘foodie’ by friends and family loves the restaurant industry and fuses that passion with bleeding edge tech to align start-ups to well-established restaurants with the information they need to succeed.