Technology vs. Waiters
Tabletop computer screens that take menu orders, accept payments by credit card and let diners play video games are about be more widely used.
Sick of trying to get a waiters attention at a restaurant? Fed up of waiting for the bill? Well, looks like the future of dining may hold a different experience. Tabletop computer screens that take menu orders, accept payments by credit card and let diners play video games are about be more widely used.
Chili’s Grill & Bar, one of the largest casual-dining chains in the U.S., plans to install tabletop screens in most of its 1,266 U.S. restaurants by early next year. Apparently they have already been testing the devices made by Dallas-based Ziosk LLC, one of several companies pitching tabletop devices to restaurants. And they are exactly what you’d imagine: tablet screens loaded with pictures of menu items, a credit-card swipe device and of course, the video games which can be played for 99 cents.
So what will this do to waiters, and how will it change the relationship they have with customers? Essentially waiters would be just a tool for delivering the meals, a bridge between the kitchen and the customers. Presumably restaurants who use tablet computers could certainly do with a few less waiters on the payroll, as much of their work will be taken care of. And according to Krista Gibson, senior vice president of brand strategy for Chili's diners, tables with the devices often spend more per check, because they tend to buy more desserts and coffee when the screen is present. So with that in mind it seems like a win-win for restaurants.
But will some customers still want that personal interaction? Will the tablet computers be able to answer all question diners have on meals and ingredients? The Wall Street Journal points out that, “mid-tier and higher-end restaurants have been careful to maintain personal interaction between diners and waiters. Some higher-end restaurants, for instance, use tablet computers to give detailed descriptions of wines, but not to take orders or allow diners to pay.”
And perhaps this is the right idea, there needs to be a compromise. Certainly the use of technology can help with efficiency, but restaurants should be careful they don’t lose all personal connection.