Pagers were hot items at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show this weekend. Two of them caught our eye – the ones from Long Range Systems that were shaped like a slice of pizza (perfect for Italian restaurants) and like a lobster (think seafood), and the ones from MobileWait that offer a new freedom from hovering at the door.
Everybody’s been there. You arrive at your favorite restaurant, and there’s a line of people snaking out the door and into the lot. You elbow your way to the front to give your name. They hand you a pager, and like a dog on an electronic leash, you realize you’re tied to the entrance, or at best the bar, while you wait for the buzz. It’s the frustration we’ve all had with traditional restaurant waits.
The new MobileWait system operates a bit differently. It requires consumers to give their cell phone number to the host. The patron gets an estimate of wait time, and then, when a table is ready, the consumer receives a text message. This allows patrons to actually leave the premise if they desire to run other errandsâ€”ideal for shopping mall settings. The operation can also use the text system as a cardless loyalty program to offer coupons, up-sells, and bounce-back messages to drive repeat business and incremental sales.
Two of the founding partners, Brooke Paul, President, and Rob Lindeman, Partner, talked with The Food Channel about the concept. Paul said, â€˜The goal of the system is not to replace traditional pagers. It’s to enhance the consumer experience.â€™ Added Lindeman, â€˜Although a few others are doing text notification, our point-of-difference is the recording matrix and the ability to build a database of consumer preferences, while increasing dialogue opportunities with those consumers.â€™
The system also allows operators to automate reservations, recognize, rank, and reward loyal guests immediately, track wait times, and check operational accuracy in the estimation of those times, including average wait time by party size.
So whether you choose text message or message-by-lobster, the NRA Show offered new options in paging systems.