When was the last time this happened to you?
You’re in the car with your family, late in the day. The mood is tense, someone is “hangry,” and you're too tired to go home and cook. You want to find somewhere to eat and regenerate before your head explodes.
You dial up a nearby restaurant and request to be added to the waitlist for seating asap. And that’s when the world’s cruelty becomes almost too fiendish to bear.
“I’m sorry, we don’t add people to the waitlist over the phone. You can add your name at the hostess stand once you arrive here.”
It’s “policy” and there are no exceptions. Yet if you play their way, you’ll not only still be using every shred of wit and energy to calm your kids, you’ll be doing it in public -- for who knows how long -- while you wait at the entrance.
Technology can fix this!
This story deserves a happy ending. There’s no reason, with today’s technologies, that the process of reserving a table can't be made significantly smoother.
What if, as the harried parent described here, you had a phone app that showed you restaurants close by that offer No Wait Service? What if your real question is, "where can I get a table really soon?" or, "what tables are available right now in this area?" What if you are relatively flexible about which restaurant you choose and more adamant right now about speedy seating?
The answer seems simple: marry advanced reservations with the current waitlist, and merge that data using predictive flow calculations.
The result is that you and your hangry kids will actually get to the table before you blow a gasket.
Managing the flow of patrons can be overwhelming for restaurants
Many restaurants insist their customers check in at the host(ess) stand whether or not they have called ahead or made a reservation. That's because walk-ins and reservations are two separate streams that must be merged by staff or table management systems before people can be seated.
But problems still persist:
- The restaurant still has no way of knowing if those who called ahead will arrive on time or at all.
- The restaurant still cannot predict who of the walk-ins will give up waiting and leave.
- Quoting approximate wait times to customers can be risky; often the customer's wait will be longer or shorter as a result of unanticipated circumstances.
If you work at a restaurant, you probably have your own list of frustrations with current systems that are supposed to ease traffic flow issues. (Tell us in the comments!)
Hassles inherent in attempting to combine the reservations list with walk-ins have led to many restaurants refusing to accept reservations at all. Obviously, that can be a sore point with customers.
A solution for this problem is long overdue
It just makes sense to use available technologies such as AI to combine geolocation with other factors in restaurant seating to improve not only customer service but also marketing for restaurants and other businesses that offer scheduling. Clearly, smoothing out this process will result in a more constant flow of diners coming through your doors.
Floqque is developing a solution based upon its patent-pending algorithms for Predictive Virtual Queuing.
Wish there was an app for that?
On the customer side:
- The FloqTime™ app will show a bird’s eye view of nearby restaurants, with an indicator of approximately how busy they are. Predicted wait times will be based on your estimated arrival time to each restaurant, or for a future time that you choose.
- Once a restaurant is selected, the app will place you in the restaurant's waitlist based on the requested time, and your priority spot will be held for a pre-determined amount of time. Any changes to your arrival time or table-ready time will be communicated automatically to the other party.
- When you are near the restaurant, you will be able to check in to let the restaurant know you are ready to be seated, allowing you to completely skip the crowd at the host(ess) stand. The app will let you know precisely when your table is ready.
- The restaurant receives an automated message with the requested arrival time from the customer, through a FloqReady™-certified scheduling system.
- The restaurant could optionally require a host(ess) to review and confirm the request or set the system on auto pilot.
- Just like you can see your Uber driver approaching your location to confirm you will be picked up, Floqque technology will employ GPS and AI to predict the likelihood of the customer showing up and when they will arrive.
You're already part of the story; now you can be part of the solution!
- Sign up to become a Floqque Early Bird to stay abreast of technological developments.
- Share your thoughts and share this post!
- Are you a restaurant owner? Ask your current table/reservation/waitlist management provider about becoming FloqReady™ certified.
- Are you a queuing provider? Consider joining us as we develop this amazing new technology!