Kicked Off the Waitlist, or So I Thought

Clock face with words Beat the Clock on the face.

Some friends who live in another town wanted to treat my fiancé and me to dinner, so we decided to get together at a halfway-between-us location. We found a restaurant to our mutual liking and agreed to meet at 6:45 PM.

I was pleased to see that the restaurant’s listing on Google Maps included a Join Waitlist button. Using this convenience, my friends and I should be able to secure seats without having to wait more than a few minutes.

On the day of our dinner, I clicked to join the restaurant’s waitlist and was quoted a 30-minute wait time. Then I received a text:

Congrats on joining our waitlist! You have 30 minutes to check in at the host stand to keep yourself on the list. We’ll update you on your wait time once you arrive in person.

Huh? No one had said anything about 30 minutes. My GPS showed that it would take around 35 minutes to get there, and that wasn’t counting the time required to find parking and arrive in person at the host stand.

Would I lose my spot? Should I cancel my place on the list and rejoin in a few minutes? I was confused, and a little tense about being in the dark. The system should be smoother!

We texted our friends, who live slightly closer to the restaurant than we do and were glad to find out that they were already on their way and would arrive before us. They checked in at the host station as soon as they arrived. We joined them and waited about 20 minutes before we finally received a text message at 6:52pm, saying “It’s taco time—your table is ready!”

Well, we were seated and enjoyed a great dinner, but afterwards I just had to query the host about their waitlist "system."

My first question was about the 30-minute timer on the waitlist. He told me the actual waitlist software doesn’t remove people from the waitlist until 60 minutes after they join.

Since I had so many questions about their process, I specifically asked him if there would have been any additional communication, but he said no, customers do not receive any further communications from the system after the initial text. So how would I know that my claim to a spot on the waitlist would not have expired after the first half-hour?

And further, I had to wonder:

  • Managing people on a waitlist can be a lot of work, especially when the host is looking at a long list of names, trying to estimate a wait time for the next person joining the list without having any idea which people on this long list are still planning to come. Did this restaurant not realize that the system it was using ended up causing confusion and hassle for management and customers alike?
  • Does the restaurant not understand that some people might get frustrated by the 30-minute cutoff message when they get stuck in traffic? Do these potential customers then abandon their plan to eat there, further compounding the host’s difficulty in estimating wait times?
  • By not inviting two-way communication with customers, does the restaurant see that they are potentially losing business

The Floqque Solution: EnRoute™ 

At Floqque, our aim is to offer a much more efficient way to be seated.

Ever since the COVID virus forced us to focus intensely on public health, I’ve been fascinated with ways we can use and improve technology to make managing crowds of people far more efficient and far less frustrating.

And besides, too much of our time is consumed by hurry-up-and-wait situations. There’s too much confusion and unpredictability around getting from Point A to Point B in our increasingly mobile and changing world. If we can smooth out the transitions, everyone will benefit!

Have you ever done a curbside pickup from Walmart or a grocery store? To arrange that, you order online, selecting a window of time to pick up your purchase. Then you message to the store when you are on the way, they track your arrival using GPS, and you tell them your parking space number when you arrive. This real-time monitoring means your purchases are delivered to your car with virtually no waiting.

At Floqque, we wondered if a similar system could be used for restaurants and their patrons.

Let’s take a look at the ways our new technology, EnRoute, would have completely cleared up our waitlist confusion. Here’s how it works:

  1. 1
    When we and our friends decide to meet for the celebration dinner, we select an arrival time window on the restaurant’s booking app. The date, time, and location are then added as an event to our personal calendars.
  2. 2
    As we start the drive to meet our friends, we click the EnRoute button, sending a message to the other members of the party to help coordinate their arrival. It also sends message to restaurant that we are on the way.
  3. 3
    EnRoute uses GPS* and AI functionality to calculate the estimated time of arrival for each member of our party. With this tool, there’s no need for multiple text messages.
  4. 4
    Since the restaurant is notified of our expected arrival time, and updated with any delays we may experience, they will have the peace of mind that this “reservation” won’t turn into a no-show.

Click to enlarge.

We want to eliminate the stigma behind waitlists because we are eliminating the wait. We’re replacing waitlists with the ease and accuracy of EnRoute’s Arrival List.™

Subscribe below to stay informed as we put the finishing touches on this awesome new system. 

For more than 30 years, Mike Wozniak has used his passion for finding innovative ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of businesses through the use of technology to redefine the way things are done. Mike is the founder of SoftwareKey.com, a cutting-edge software licensing technology provider, and the inventor of ArrivalOS™ and EnRoute™ by Floqque, a Predictive Queuing Platform. When he isn't working, he likes to travel and do burpees! Why do burpees on vacation? Just Because He Can!

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Help us build the best Arrival Management System for the Service Industry

Curbside pickup technology has brought both a level of customer service and efficiency to those who use it. We want to build an Arrival Management System for the service industry bookings that works equally as well. We're looking for people from all walks of life (customers, service providers, restaurant managers, other scheduling, queuing, booking, and table management systems) to help shape this technology. 

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