Like owners of other businesses, the biggest fear for restaurateurs is often the lack of customers. But being successful in getting people through the door can be a double-edged sword in the dining business. Having a line that extends from outside the front door to along the sidewalk and around the corner can be bad in the long run if diners realize the food was merely good, and not worth the two-hour wait a second time around.
But now there is a solution that won’t trap diners in crowded waiting areas, or confine them within 5 meters of the premises (how far do those blasted restaurant pagers allow you to wander anyways?), so you can go off and explore the neighborhood until your table is ready.
After requesting a table and giving your phone number to the host, WaitAway will text you immediately with an estimated wait time and once again when your table is ready.
My first encounter with the app was as a diner at the Meatball Shop in Greenwich Village, NYC. I arrived more than an hour early for the proposed dinner time because I was in the neighborhood earlier, running an errand.
“Danny, party of 4,” I told the hostess after asking how long the wait would be.
“75 minutes” is what I vaguely remember due to my awe and shock, realizing, What a coincidence! The rest of my party will arrive in about 60 minutes!
Almost immediately, I received a text confirming my reservation with a link that would allow me to check my wait status.
Drats! I’m one of the few iPhone users without a data plan. Let’s just hope the estimated wait time is accurate.
To my frustration, my guests arrived later than they quoted — but just in time. To my surprise, the table was ready almost at the exact time the hostess estimated (give or take a few minutes).
Oh, mystery software, how I love you.
At the time, I was unaware the program that pinged me with my wait information was the WaitAway app. But whatever it was, I was excited someone had come up with simple, user-friendly technology that let me avoid claustrophobic anxiety.
How do businesses benefit from this kind of software? Sarah Turcotte of FastCompany reports that after the Meatball Shop’s first month using WaitAway, walkaways decreased 30%.
Mobile communications is exploding. Adopting mobile technology will be important for every business. Business with physical locations will soon have to figure out ways to leverage mobile tech to provide an exceptional customer experience. Otherwise they may be left biting the dust when competitors get ahead of the technological curve.
Programs such as WaitAway provide more convenience and transparency to increasingly demanding consumers, who offer their loyalty to businesses they love and trust.
What new tech are you using for your storefront location?