Here at Uncorkd, we’re not just interested in digital wine menus (though we sincerely hope you’re interested in them), we’re also interested in all the other new and exciting technology that people in the hospitality industry are using to make their business run smoother. Today, we’ll be looking at restaurant tech your guests can use to pay you faster and easier—without having to wait all night for a check or change. Here are four mobile payment apps that you may want to check out.
The popular restaurant reservation site has become an app, and that app has become a payment method for some restaurants in New York City. (If you aren’t in New York, you’ll have to wait a bit for this one.)
The program integrates directly with your POS so that you can manage mobile payments like you manage all your traditional payments. Open Table claims that studies show nearly half of all restaurants are planning to install mobile payment systems within the next two years, so restaurants that start using mobile payments now will be ahead of the game.
Extra Bonus: Open Table offers extended marketing opportunities to their customers, so your restaurant will have the benefit of increased exposure on one of the most popular reservation sites online.
This iOS app is also available only in New York City—how about some love for the rest of the country here?—and can be found in the App Store with high reviews (4.5 out of 5 stars) from 77 users who love the ability to split bills evenly, and the fact that they can leave the restaurant whenever they want.
The app uses your guests’ smartphones to automatically check them into your restaurant, and once they’ve eaten, they can just whip out their phones to pay the itemized bill and split it up however they choose. Again, this app integrates with your POS, enabling you to manage your bills the way you always have.
Dash also works well for bars, because guests can set up a credit tab and pay from their phone—instead of waiting around the bar for half of the night, sadly watching their friends have fun on the other side of the room, as they wait, and wait, and wait for their tab. (This diner says: “Seriously bars, figure out a faster way to get me my darn bill.”)
TabbedOut has a wider adoption rate than the other apps, with over 5,000 locations supported nationwide. If a TabbedOut user is near your restaurant or bar, they’ll see that you support TabbedOut—and hopefully they’ll come to visit you.
The app is available for iOS or Android, and allows guests to open their tab on their phone, then order normally and pay on their phones. TabbedOut requires that guests have a working credit card to open an account, and the system automatically closes out their tab if they forget to pay. Like the other apps, TabbedOut integrates directly with your POS system.
Extra Bonus: The really cool thing about TabbedOut is that it also offers Periscope, their customer management tool. Periscope allows you to identify and track data for your superconsumers (the small percentage of regulars who make up over 50% of your profits—yes, you have them), including their spending habits and favorite items. You can even send tailored offers directly to your customers’ mobile devices.
Cover was a fast follower to TabbedOut, but seems to have appeared on the mobile restaurant payment scene before Dash or Open Table caught on. Cover’s focus is on simplicity and claims the entire system can be setup in 5 minutes. This makes it the right choice if you don’t want to mess with POS integration, which is required for the other apps. The app also allows guests to evenly split orders just like Dash.
Cover is available on iOS or Android, and you can use it if you’re located in…wait for it… New York City, but it’s also available in San Francisco.
Pros and cons to payment apps
Whether you’re jazzed about the prospect of allowing your customers to pay at their own speed—or you’re worried that your “dine and ditch” numbers will skyrocket, there are a few benefits and drawbacks to each of these apps. The benefit to all of them is obvious (increasing your turnover rate quickly and easily, without even having to hire extra wait staff). One drawback to all of them is that revenues might dip slightly if your guests don’t expect to wait around enjoying after-dinner coffees, desserts, and cordials.
Whether you choose Open Table, Dash, TabbedOut, Cover, or none of the above, remember that it always pays to carefully consider all your options and benefits when you’re considering making a change in your restaurant.
* The original post has been updated to reflect more accurately how bill splitting works.
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