Technology changing patrons' dining out experience

The entire dining experience is going high tech, from how you check in to how you place your order
January 20, 2014 8:25:04 PM PST
These days when it comes to dining out, you might be interacting more with your smartphone than your server at your favorite restaurant. The entire dining experience is going high tech, from how you check in to how you place your order.

Ryan Moore is a fan of places that put technology to work, and when he eats out, he loves the convenience that comes with being able to place his order on a tablet.

"I want to make things faster and easier for me," Moore said.

But now, digital dining goes way beyond tablets at the table.

"A lot of us are finding now that we're being invited more and more to download apps onto our own smartphones to check our table wait times, to settle up our check or even in some cases to order," digital consultant Brian Westbrook said.

Apps do everything from giving you reward points or discounts for being a repeat customer, to allowing you to pay without ever getting a paper check, or swiping your credit card to alert you when your table is ready.

"You get an idea of how long it's going to be. Is it going to be 20 minutes? Is it going to be 30 minutes? And then it will notify you, it will say, hey your table is available," Westbrook said.

While diners may love the convenience, restaurant consultant Brandon Hull says owners use technology for marketing and research, gathering information about you.

"They have details on your favorite food, your favorite drink, the frequency that you're coming by," he said.

And what about payment errors, or the security of your credit card information when it's stored in an app? Some argue the technology is an improvement.

"It's much safer than handing a person your credit card and watching them walk off in the distance," Hull said.

"Having a digital dining app used for ordering, or reserving a table, or dividing up the check adds more data to the equation so there's more opportunity to reconstruct what may have happened if there's any disputes or errors," Westbrook said.

Ultimately, Hull says digital dining is expected to improve the customer experience and will become much more prevalent in 2014.

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