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Contactless Dining – Top 3 Myths Debunked

GoTab started in 2016 as a mobile payments company. We added contactless dining in 2018. Back then, we got a lot of pushback. The strongest pushback came from full-service restaurant operators. The tech skeptics didn’t believe their guests would take to it. Even the tech savvy were concerned about whether their guests would adopt something like a contactless menu.

Today, in light of COVID-19, many have come around to contactless dining technology. That’s a good thing. We’ve seen many of our operators thrive at a time when so many full-service restaurants are suffering.

Unfortunately, we still come across 3 common contactless dining myths that are keeping some full-service restaurant operators on the sidelines:

  1. Contactless ordering and payment hurts the guest experience. 
  1. Most guests find contactless dining systems too hard to use.
  1. Tips go down when full-service restaurants use contactless dining.

All 3 myths are easily debunked. In fact, GoTab operators are the best debunkers. Using GoTab’s POS for full-service restaurants, they are getting great results across-the-board: with guests, with staff and for their bottom line. 

Myth 1: Contactless ordering and payment hurts the guest experience.

Espita is a stylish, industrial-modern cantina for Southern Mexican dining & drinking based in Washington, D.C. Before COVID, they had considered contactless ordering and payment but they quickly dismissed it. It didn’t fit their high-touch service model. Guests were used to talking to a server. The change seemed too drastic.

When the pandemic hit, Espita took a second look. First, they tried to use a simple QR contactless menu. Within a few days they realized a simple QR wouldn’t cut it. For one thing, with just the QR contactless menu, servers had a hard time figuring out where to take orders. That’s when Espita turned to GoTab. Within a few hours, the team saw that GoTab covered 90 percent of their needs.

Contactless Benefits with GoTab

Now, their guests no longer order from a server face-to-face. Espita guests scan the QR code at the table, order from the contactless menu and pay on their phone. This allows the restaurant to minimize contact, making staff more available to sanitize and clean the restaurant instead of bogging them down with orders. “They’re bussing tables, they’re wiping things down, they’re making sure everything is sanitary, they’re cleaning bathrooms constantly. It’s allowed us to focus on what actually matters right now,” says Josh Phillips, Co-Owner of Espita.

The result is a positive impact on both staff and guests. Guests are happy because they have control. They can order as often as they like. Food and drinks come out fast. 

The Two Most Important Moments in the Dining Experience

In hospitality, the guest experience is book-ended by two moments of truth: the order and the payment. When done right, guests hardly notice them. When mistakes happen, the entire guest experience can suffer. 

“With the old process, it can take anywhere from 4- to 7-minutes for a server to take an order,” says Josh. That 4- to 7-minutes doesn’t include the time it takes for the server to greet the table. With contactless order and pay, restaurants get to eliminate that entire process. “Guests place the orders. The orders come out. It’s that simple. And the guests love it,” says Josh. “We get compliments constantly. The amount of repeat business is outrageous at this point.”

Contactless dining removes the friction from those two moments of truth. The guest is in control with an easy-to-use contactless menu. They don’t need to download an app. Guests pay right from their phone. With contactless order and pay, they never need to wait for a server to bring a check. No one needs to share high-touch items like card holders and pens. 

The overall experience improves when operators get to focus on what is most important:

  • The food
  • The environment
  • The price point
  • And, with COVID: The safety

Myth 2: Most guests find contactless dining hard to use.

This myth is pretty easy to debunk.

Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, the groundbreaking San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 9th largest craft brewer in the United States. Recognized as an award-winning industry leader, Stone has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The company operates breweries in Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA, plus nine tap room and bistro locations throughout the US and the nation’s largest craft-centric beer distributor, Stone Distributing Co. 

Stone Brewing operates one of the largest hospitality venues in Southern California. One of their Escondido venues has over 70,000 square feet and 700 seats. Stone “Fans” love the brand and have high expectations.  

Prior to COVID, Stone VP of Hospitality Gregg Frazer turned to GoTab with the question: How do I staff such a large space with hosts, food runners, and servers without breaking the bank? 

GoTab’s answer: You don’t have to staff for the full square footage. Contactless dining lets Stone service these large spaces with less staff. 

All-in with GoTab Contactless Menu Solutions

Since COVID, GoTab is now the only way guests order and pay at a Stone venue. It’s a huge part of how Gregg and his team at Stone are weathering the pandemic. 

Getting their Fans comfortable takes work. Stone makes staff training a high priority. For example, they created new steps to service to help guests along the way. For every first-time guest, Stone ensures a full walk-through of the ordering process. Once Stone’s Fans use GoTab for the first time, they are delighted. “There’s nothing worse than having to wait for your next beer,” says Gregg. With GoTab they do not.

To learn more about how Stone uses GoTab, see Real World Results Using GoTab – Stone Brewing Shares Their Story.

At Espita, Josh and his team had a different problem with contactless dining: food was coming out too fast! Josh explains, “At first, we had to explain to guests that when you order something it actually comes out.” Guests were surprised at how fast Espita’s runners delivered their orders. 

Get more tips to help your guests get comfortable with contactless dining at Top 8 Best Practices for Contactless Ordering and Payment.

Myth 3: Tips go down when full-service restaurants use contactless dining.

Many GoTab operators say that once they go contactless, tips increase. It makes sense. Happy customers tip better. But, are guests so satisfied that they tip more for “less” service? Not exactly. 

With GoTab and contactless dining, operators are giving their guests more, not less service. 

“Now, the guest interactions are better,” says Josh at Espita. “We get to spend all our time talking to guests, filling water glasses. It’s not just a transaction anymore.”

Another surprising impact of the reduced staff sizes caused by pandemic restrictions is that there is more staff consistency. Guests get to interact with the same staff member for the entire visit. When that interaction is a positive one, because staff are able to focus on the guest experience, everyone benefits. GoTab operators say that contactless dining actually gives them the opportunity to provide a personal touch. 

Collection of devices with GoTab software on screen.

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