Like it or not, Table-top tablets are coming to a restaurant near you! When technologies this compelling are introduced, it is only a matter of time when they rapidly change existing landscapes.
Besides providing cost-savings and adding efficiencies to a restaurant’s business model, these devices offer great advantages in terms of providing information to an increasing and, ever more-demanding base of diners who want to know what they are eating, and, the quality of the foods that they are consuming. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Trends Report, ‘locally-sourced’ and ‘Gluten-free’ foods are among the ‘top trends’ of the future. In short, all signs point to the fact that diners, besides wanting good tasting food, also have cravings for more information about their food. After all, we live in an age of information, interactivity and mobility!
Table-top ordering systems fill a gaping hole in the area of providing information, especially for diners whose entire dining experience (good or bad) depends on the avoidance of certain food ingredients.
Currently, diners with food allergies or gluten restrictions have to engage in a game of what may be described as the “allergy-pong”. Basically, this entails a ‘back and forth’ routine between diners, and restaurant-staff, around trying to find out which meals do not contain the ingredients that they are trying to avoid. Oftentimes, this game involves the engagement of the kitchen-staff including the chef. In most cases, even after playing this game, information obtained about food-content is not reliable or accurate. Given the hundreds of ingredients that go into the making of most restaurant menus, no one can be expected to remember all the ingredients, their many aliases or, their derivative sources. No, not even the chef who prepares the food!
No wonder, restaurants mostly are uneasy about confidently serving customers with food allergies.
Enter table-top tablets.
For diners with food allergies, these devices:
1. Can be a source of accurate menu information: They can ease the burden of providing accurate information at the “point of order” for restaurants. For restaurants that choose to provide ingredient details of their menu items, these tablets provide an excellent venue. No more need for playing the game of “allergy-pong”. Ingredient information so crucial for diners with food allergies can be accessed right at the table. Ingredient-changes can be updated instantly assuring up to minute accuracy. The paper menus of today cannot match this capability of real-time updates.
2. Provide a media for ‘relevant information’ dissemination: For those restaurants that want to improve the dining experience of their customers with food allergies, these devices provide an excellent venue for programs such as ‘Interactive Allergen Menus’ (www.gipsee.com) which instantly provide diners with menu options that fit their individual customized needs. Diners with food allergies simply select ingredients they wish to avoid and instantly view their meal options right at the table!
3. Improve the dining experience with more available options: Gipsee’sInteractive Allergen Menus, as an example, contain features such as “Alternate Suggestive” logic that suggest ‘substitutable’ options to diners. Example, if the ingredients of a particular sauce interfere with a diner’s selections, the system interactively, recommends another sauce that may be available and, safe to consume given their specific set of restrictions.
4. Are more than just meal-ordering machines: They can be efficient communication tools. Example, diners with food restrictions can send special comments/instructions to the kitchen staff regarding their food allergies sparing them the agony of having to enunciate their restrictions to the waiter/waitress. Why not ‘e-message’ the kitchen directly instead of risking communicating with the wait-staff? As diners with food allergies realize all too well, most wait-staff in restaurants do not completely understand the difference between allergies and preferences in the first place!
5. Are excellent means of gathering diner-reviews: Customers with food allergies now have a powerful tool at the table for providing reviews on their dining experience as well as the ability to share their experience with others via social media or, restaurant review sites like Yelp, Opentable, Urbanspoon.
6. Reduce risks: By providing accurate information these devices can reduce risk-factors (for both the restaurant and the diner) that exist today from miscommunications or misunderstandings about meal ingredients.
Of course, restaurants still need to pay special attention to issues such as cross-contamination in the kitchens. The process of ingredient-identification, however, will get a lot easier and streamlined with the implementation of these table-top devices.
Gipsee, Inc. is the leading provider of innovative food-ingredient based analysis technology solutions for restaurants, schools and hospitality industries. Gipsee currently provides these innovative patent-pending solutions for over 3,000 US and Canadian restaurant and school locations.
For more information please visit www.gipsee.com,
Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org.