The story of Frankenstein has been told for generations, yet the lessons from this tale of mad experimentation gone horrifically wrong are still being learned today, sometimes in the unlikeliest of settings, such as full-service restaurants.
No, this isn’t a general commentary on food or menu decisions, but rather the “monsters” that are being built to enable guests to pay at the table. You see, while pay-at-the-table solutions are relatively new to the hospitality marketplace, they have actually been on the minds of restaurant operators for years. Operators have long ideated around the many risks associated with taking a consumer’s credit card from their possession, the convenience that a pay-at-the-table solution could provide for customers, and the efficiency that it would bring to wait staffs. But like Victor Frankenstein learned in Mary Shelley’s famous novel, there’s a risk to tampering with the natural order of things.
Many operators fail to consider the dramatic impact that some pay-at-the-table technologies can have on their guests’ overall restaurant experience. The importance of that final interaction with the customer is often overlooked or undervalued. Yet, it’s the last impressionable segment of the dining experience and the final touch-point that operators have before their customer walks out the door. If the pay-at-the-table process isn’t elegant or secure, or if it fails to complement the actual dining experience, it puts the entire restaurant visit at risk. There is truth to the fact that you never get a second chance to make a last impression, as well as the first.
Despite the risks, a number of full-service restaurant operators have performed experiments with pay-at-the-table technologies that were rushed to market, repurposed from another industry solution, or built on a software platform that is not integrated with their point-of-sale system. To compound the problem, many of these solutions hadn’t met important payment security standards while others looked like they were designed for a middle school science project. While there is no evil hand-wringing, flashes of lightning, or diabolical laughter that accompanies these experiments, often times the dangers of ambition simply turn into obsession, and Frankenstein’s monster is born.
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