How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Drive Business

Technology is changing how the food industry does business. From tabletop tablets to interactive mobile apps, restaurants are finding better ways to get customers to spend more. Brinker International’s  (NYSE: EAT  )  Chili’s Grill & Bar is the latest casual-dining chain to capitalize on this trend. The company has been testing pay-at-the-table screens by Ziosk that let customers order food, play games, and pay the check without the need for a waiter.

Tabletop technology should boost sales for the company because guests at tables with these devices tend to spend more per bill, according to Chili’s senior vice president of brand strategy. In fact, dessert sales increased as much as 20% when the screens periodically showed photos of desserts. That’s an impressive figure, particularly if Chili’s is able to apply this strategy to alcoholic drinks and other higher-margin menu items.

There’s also an opportunity for restaurants to make additional money on the games the devices offer. Guests at Chili’s will be charged $0.99 to play a game. Chili’s gets to keep 50% of that gaming profit, with the other half going to device maker Ziosk. That seems fair considering Chili’s only rents the tablets and their technology from Ziosk. The devices are already being used in more than 150 Chili’s locations across the Midwest and in Virginia and Maryland.

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