How could a dining out experience be improved?
- The maître d could know who I was when I entered
- The menu could include helpful, more detailed, descriptions
- I could be told how long it takes to prepare a dish, to easier plan courses
- Waiters would never mixed up orders
- I would know when to expect the next dish or drink
- A waiter could be called at any time without interrupting conversation
- I wouldn’t have to wait for the cheque and the card machine
All the technological ingredients of the experience already exist and most of the ideas are quite obvious – so who is going to successfully bring the concept into the mainstream first?
Most of this can be delivered by slightly amping up the digital:
- An Ibeacon perimeter would inform staff who I was, how many people are in my party and whether it is my first visit (and an explanation of how everything works is in order)
- The menu would be a digital interface accessed through my smartphone
- The menu would not emulate a traditional paper layout, but use the unique abilities of the medium to provide additional information – e.g. include chef’s description of dishes, videos of how they are prepared, detailed information on drinks etc.
- It would also indicate how long it takes to prepare dishes
- An order would be taken through the menu, allowing a reasonable amount of variability and additional notes
- If stuck, I would be able to call a waiter, who would take an order through the same interface, thus teaching me how to use it
- The screen would then run a countdown for the drinks and dishes to reach my table
- Drinks and dishes would be brought out by waiters
- The interface would allow me to order additional items at any time, without interrupting conversation
- I would be able to order additional courses to go or delivered (to either myself or a friend – as a better way of a shared experience than a picture).
- At the end of the meal, the same interface would take payment – by taking a picture of my credit card, through PayPal or more advanced methods, like authorising payment through iris scan.
- Needless to say, the system would learn of my tastes every time I would use it.
It would provide a slightly unusual service experience – a purer interaction for visiting parties and a more informed and efficient dining experience; with the right amount of human support if and when required. All the technological ingredients of the experience already exist and most of the ideas are quite obvious – so who is going to successfully bring the concept into the mainstream first?