How Contactless Platforms Offer a More Personalized Experience
When staff spends less time inputting orders and running credit cards, they can focus on what’s really important: hospitality. (Photo courtesy of Espita)
Since March of 2020, GoTab has seen a 7,000 percent increase in transaction volume
GoTab is a contactless ordering system (along with others like Toast, Koomi and HungerRush) that bring the POS device directly to the customer’s smartphone, allowing them to order and pay via an app or website. Founded in Arlington, Virginia in 2016, GoTab is now available in restaurants, bars, hotels and breweries in more than 35 states. Since March of 2020, the company has seen a 7,000 percent increase in transaction volume. Proponents of the app tout its efficiency in streamlining operations, while critics see it as another way technology encroaches on human interaction, something the industry has traditionally thrived on.
“Savvy operators strike the right balance between creating an experience with just enough socially distanced human interaction” - Tim McLaughlin, GoTab CEO & Founder
According to GoTab co-founder Tim McLaughlin, “safe” was never really a design goal for the platform, “convenient” was. But early in the Covid-19 crisis, McLaughlin predicted how using contactless tools and apps could allow servers and bartenders to make better use of the time they would normally spend getting orders to the kitchen, tallying bills and processing payments. “Savvy operators [can] strike the right balance between creating an experience with just enough socially distanced human interaction,” he says, like having a mixologist “touch the table” before a customer orders a cocktail online, and a sommelier swinging by after the main course and wine were served to see what diners think of the pairing.
“By shifting the mechanics of serving to GoTab, our servers are now entirely focused on hospitality.”
- Josh Philips, Espita Co-owner
Espita owner Josh Phillips swore he would never employ a contactless platform or app because he wasn’t sure how it would be received. “My original hesitation was always ‘how would guests react to ordering on their phone?’” But that all changed when the Covid-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on the hospitality industry. “At that point we couldn’t afford to hire back servers, as our sales were still recovering and most of our servers had moved out of D.C. anyway,” recalls the partner and president of Destination Unknown Restaurants, based in Washington, D.C. After initial attempts to implement a proprietary ordering system proved to be cumbersome at best, they started using GoTab at Espita, a Southern Mexican restaurant and mezcaleria, and its ghost restaurant Ghostburger and telling the story of the restaurant, ensuring they are enjoying their meal and have the things they need to enjoy their experience.” Staff has more time to work the floor, educating guests about mezcal, helping them create customized flights and decide on food partners.
“We can bring back the focus to our history, our innovations and what makes a craft pour exceptional.” - Greg Frazer, Vice President of hospitality for Stone Brewing in Escondido, California
Greg Frazer, Vice President of hospitality for Stone Brewing in Escondido, California, first became aware of contactless ordering and payment methods when he traveled to China, where digital payment was far more prevalent than in the U.S. Right before the pandemic temporarily shuttered locations, he implemented GoTab at several Stone Brewing locations, including two large-format restaurants in San Diego.
When management reopened, they decided to transition completely to the platform to serve customers in a safe way. As a result, they’ve been able to add a manager and cicerone visit to every table. To offset the number of times that a staff member might approach a table, they’re now putting more emphasis on entrances and exits, assigning staff to welcome guests, walk them through the ordering process and answer questions.