It’s well-documented that people hate to wait. Actually, who really needs documentation? Don’t we all know this about our impatient selves?
In Los Angeles, some restaurant -goers hate waiting so much that they’re willing to pay to avoid it. According to the Los Angeles Times, people are using an online errand service to find people willing to wait on their behalf for restaurant tables.
A reporter, Tenny Tatusian, describes trying the method herself and paying $35 for the privilege of not waiting – more than a third the cost of the eventual dinner bill.
However, Tatusian couldn’t buy her way out of stress, as you can see in this description of harried communications with her stand-in, a graphic artist running errands for extra cash:
“On that Friday, she sent me a text when she arrived and then two more texts updating our status. During that time, I ran errands, had a drink and generally relaxed. At 7:30 p.m. came this: ‘Some big parties just left – r u nearby? Entire party has to be present to be seated.’ I alerted my friends and we headed over.
On my way I received another text: ‘They asked if you want to share a table since u have a smaller party.’ I replied, ‘Sure.’ Then came this: ‘They just gave it away. But they said u would be next.’
My group arrived a few minutes later. We found our TaskRabbit (she was alone, on a chair, with a book). We exchanged warm greetings, then she left. Within five minutes we were seated and negotiating the menu.”
You get stressed out just reading about it, and it makes you think there must be a better way to give diners a more relaxed experience. Good news: There is.
Technology Offers Another Way
Today’s wait list technology frees guests from the old waiting-around-the-host-stand doldrums while streamlining and simplifying management of the front door and allowing restaurants to turn more tables.
When guests check in, they can choose to be notified either by a classic restaurant pager or by SMS text to their phones. The host or hostess can easily enter guests details into a waitlist app, such as party size, smoking preference, and even quote wait times.
Guests are then free to wait in the bar, peruse nearby shops or even run a quick errand instead of staring at the host stand.
When a table is available, communicating with guests takes just a few keystrokes (or a swipe on an tablet device). Restaurants are never out of contact with patrons, and can send either a page or SMS text from the same app.
In addition to improving the guest experience, such technology offers other benefits. The first is to make the front door area less chaotic and congested. There’s no more shouting out guest names or disruptive and annoying PA announcements.
Restaurants also are left with a database of wait times and customer preferences that provides the basis for valuable analytics that can help make a business more efficient. For example, does your seating configuration match what customers want, in terms of table sizes, window seating or smoking preference? And, do you need more servers during certain hours? When is the wait is stacking up, and how long does it last? What’s the average wait time?
That’s great data to have when you’re looking for ways to make a good restaurant into a great one, and it’s available – by putting the right technology to work.
Find Out More About the Future of the Restaurant Industry
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Michelle Strong is chief marketing officer at LRS and an advocate for meaningful customer engagement.