Food on the Move: Removing the Unknown with Order Display Screens
Have you ever been at an airport and thought to yourself, “I want a decent restaurant meal before my flight, but not sure if I have the time”?
I do a lot of traveling and I’m always wondering where to get food on the move based on my boarding time. A “grab & go” operation normally wins, as I can be sure to get something at least. My dining experience is usually short and to the point, involving finding a quick place to sit, lunch in lap, eating as quickly as possible. That’s the way it is right… or is it?
What is a Restaurant Metrics Screen?
There is technology available that shows all prospective guests on a screen outside the restaurant, exactly how long food is taking. These innovations enable the guests to make an informed choice on whether they have time to dine in the restaurant based on when their flight leaves.
- By presenting this information, the restaurant stands to gain more customers, confident they have time to dine.
- Those guests have a better, more relaxing pre-flight experience.
This is a potential for operations like airports, where guests are time poor. These screens operate by using kitchen display technology, which records how long each meal takes to be prepared in the kitchen. Since it displays the data out on a screen in front of the restaurant, guests can make a decision before they even enter.
What if the service time is high? Won’t that put new guests off and negatively impact your business? Yes, it could, but it is not nearly as bad as the hit your reputation will take by allowing the guest to sit down and order when you serve them in time.
Restaurant Wait Times
The key is to make the service times as low as possible and make the choice easy for the consumer. There are plenty of hints and tricks that restaurants use to ensure this is the case.
- A kitchen display enables the operation with more efficiency and effectiveness. A good kitchen solution will help to time and coordinate orders to help the operator keep service times low.
- Some restaurants reduce their menu specifically for these environments, so they can eliminate the dishes that have long cook times and ensure that the service times are as quick as possible.
- Sophisticated food storage solutions can enable operators to cook items in advance and “hot hold” them at excellent quality. I’ve seen products that allow chefs to store a newly fried egg for over 30 minutes and still keep the yolk runny. You might expect that if restaurants are cooking food in advance of guests arriving they will waste more food. But portioning is an important factor in not only reducing food waste, but in restaurateurs managing their inventory.
- Based on hot-holding, there are technological features which allow operators to reduce this wastage in hot holding environments. Bin management will utilize historical sales information to help the restaurant to predict the correct number of items to hot-hold throughout the day.
High volume restaurants cope with demand and keep service times as low as possible. The metrics screens that bring this to life and into the consumer’s consciousness. In fact, some European restaurants utilize metrics screens to help enhance their offer when pitching to airports for new sites when they become available.
Guest experience is what it is all about for airports today. Order metrics screens enable guests to make enhanced and pro-active decisions based on the information provided.
This will also entice customers to spend more money on a full-service experience compared to a grab & go operation., This is now a win-win-win scenario for metrics screens, where the airport stands to make more profit.
Companies like Uber or Dominos both provide services have learned to compensate respective of their customers’ time; keeping your customers well informed builds trust. Your customers have faith in your product because they know you are working with respect to their precious time, and that trust increases your bottom line.
Minimizing unknown factors is the key to helping consumers make better decisions when you have to get food on the move. If you only have 45 minutes, do you have the time to sit down and eat? This is exactly the information you need to make an informed choice. Would the grab & go concept always win if you had this knowledge?
Unknown Factors to Consider
There are a lot of choices to make in a short time when you’re in transit. Here are a few of the unknown factors that guests have to deal with and the solutions that might help:
Is this a good restaurant?
Mileage may vary on what you consider good, but there are a host of guest opinion-based forums and restaurant review websites and apps that can help. You may even consider googling what your available options are when you land, while you’re on the plan. For anything you are unfamiliar with, try sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, Zagat, Foursquare, or OpenTable to get a feel for what might work for you in your limited time.
What is on the menu?
A close secondary factor into what makes for a good restaurant is what the menu has to offer. Again, most restaurant websites and apps offer the information that you need to make a quick and informed choice. If you notice a lot of items on the menu, take a moment to look them up on one of the aforementioned sites to get a sense of their turnaround time. Be wary of the Paradox of Choice, which not only can bog you down, but slow down other guests and the kitchen.
How long is the wait list for a table?
This is where wait list metrics shown on a screen outside or inside the restaurant really shine, by letting you know specifically the time from ordering to actually eating. Various waitlisting apps also serve to give an idea of how busy a restaurant may be, respective to your time.
The future is bright for passengers that are often crunched for time. Tech companies have taken notice of the logistics faced by travelers looking for food on their move, with some startups investing in technology to allow guests to order in advance. In the terminal, restaurateurs can help ease anxiety over the length of service by including order display screens. It’s the unknown variable -time- that can lead to customer attrition.
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About the Author
Mike Wright is our Channel Development Manager at QSR and works with our reseller partners in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia & Australia. Graduating from Cardiff Metropolitan University with a degree in Recreation & Leisure Management, he had always worked in the hospitality industry before joining QSR. He loves craft beers (especially IPA’s) Liverpool FC, field hockey and visiting theme parks around the world with his wife and 3 sons.