Written by: Janice
Published by: Food & Drink International
As a leading bar and restaurant social entertainment and integrated marketing platform for 30 years, NTN Buzztime Inc. is all about the guest experience. Today, it redefines the dining experience for customers by adding new capabilities to its tabletop tablets.
Buzztime unveiled its integrated menu, self-service ordering and payment capabilities as options for its free-floating tablets that allow customers to personalize their night out. “We are very conscious that our technology does not replace the experience the brand wants to give to the consumer,” CEO Ram Krishnan says. “We are not trying to automate the entire experience and replace servers.”
Instead, Buzztime tablets are meant to be integrated into the service experience. For example, placing tablets near the host stand can offer patrons a way to fill their wait time by perusing the menu or playing games. At the table, a party of four or six can each be given a tabletop tablet and use the group cart functionality to enter their order, which will go to the kitchen at the same time.
Servers can also use Buzztime tablets to place a table’s initial order and leave it behind for the group to order another round of beer, for example. Checkout is another option on the tablet that allows people to proceed through their experience on their own time.
“There is no significant value from a patron’s perspective to sit and wait to flag a server, ask for their check, put their credit card down and wait for the server to come back,” Krishnan explains. “That’s the part we are trying to eliminate with the checkout function. If you allow a consumer to checkout at their own pace and present them with the ability to add a higher tip that will increase tips for the server.”
Value to Establishments
The benefit of controlling their own dining experience is obviously attractive for patrons. But what’s in it for the establishment?
After customers are done eating, the checkout process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Using Buzztime tablets checkout function, that extra wait time can be eliminated, which results in more turnovers. “Higher turnover and reducing guest wait times is really tangible,” Krishnan points out. “There is an immediate benefit for both the venue and the patron.”
The technology also gives servers the ability to serve more tables because they aren’t taking orders with paper and pen and running to place it on the POS system. “We’ve taken that part of the work off their plate so they can get to the next table quicker,” Krishnan adds.
An increase in revenue per table is also more likely to happen when patrons place their own orders. “There are things we will add on the computer but not out loud,” Krishnan explains. “If I want extra bacon or cheese it is a lot easier to select that than for me to say it out loud.”
Enrolling patrons in loyalty programs usually presents a challenge for bars and restaurants, but Buzztime incorporates that into its new features. Buzztime boasts more than eight million player registrations in its network. More than 80 million Buzztime games were played last year nationwide and the company has more than 45,000 tablets in restaurant and bar locations.
Up to the Challenge
Tablets with the new dining features are being tested at Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar in Pennsylvania, and Buzztime plans to expand to more brands later this year. “As we are collecting data, we are finding the tablets to have the effects we expected them to have,” Krishnan says. “Brands are very excited about this.”
This is not the last stop for Buzztime tablets because the company will continue to add features that will positively impact the entire guest experience. Krishnan sees premium services offerings that may include pairing a kid’s meal with an arcade game or song that will all be added towards a loyalty program with a particular brand.
In the future, patrons may be able to create a profile and save their order and checkout information for faster service. “We are blending fun and functionality,” Krishnan says. “We are building around the patron for a customized guest experience from the moment they arrive while creating relationships.”