Digital Food Menus
Customer satisfaction and order accuracy are the two main motives of a restaurant. Basically to manage this data, digital menus are introduced for betterment of business and convenience of customers. With the advancements in technology and increase in smartphone and tablet market penetration, Singapore’s hotel Marina Mandarin is the first to adapt itself completely to an integrated mobile technology. They have named their system as “One Guest Mobile Solution” as it provides accurate information and display of the food ordered. This is a benefactor to the service staff as well as they can cater the customers pleasure in a more innovative way. The exclusive destination of “One Guest Mobile Solution” is to increase staff productivity for customer satisfaction. The hotel has divided its “One Guest” to three sections a) One Guest Management, b) One Guest Menu, and c) One Guest Administration.
a) One Guest Management – The management only deals with the staff management and does everything only with the iPhones. The order placed by the customers is directly landed into the kitchen. With each table having an iPad, makes it easy for the staff to check the needs of each customer. The iPads on the tables makes it easier for the staff to see the number of vacant tables and updating the status to the waiting customers. Higher customer satisfaction is expected only by staff professionalism and the ease provided to the customers by the management.
b) One Guest Menu – Waiting for the staff to come at the table and then placing orders requires real big time which is reduced by the digital menus. Noting down the order correctly according to the needs of the customers is highly time consuming. IPads have reduced this and so the efficiency of the staff has increased to 33%. Customers also enjoy having food of their choice and the availability of instant feedbacks allows the staff to respond immediately. Traditional comment/feedback cards have to be subjected to each department manually and then the changes were made, but now the response from the management is quick.
c) One Guest Administration – Sales and promotion depend on the administration. The administration also deals with the finalization of the menu. Digital food menus also save paper and capital as efficiency is increased by the developed usage of iPads.
Experts from Singapore Hotel Association comments that innovation have been and will always are encouraged by the hotel industry only to attain satisfactory level for customers. One Guest Mobile Solution was developed in partnership with SPRING, and was supported by SHA (Singapore Hotel Association) and also in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board. Marina Mandarin started the program on 7th November 2012 and the innovativeness was accepted by the customers.
A quick search of the Singapore Patent Office records reveals patent number 139448 titled “ELECTRONIC MENU AND CONCIERGE SYSTEM”, filed by SIX CONTINENTS HOTELS, INC., that mainly discloses an electronic menu and concierge system for the travel and hospitality industry. As per the disclosure, the electronic menu and concierge system is a centralized, Internet-hosted service that is accessible by hotel guests and visitors. Also, the system may provide hotel information, such as hotel events, directions, and local attractions. In addition, food and/or beverages services and merchandise may also be ordered through the system.
The patent was granted on 29/Oct/2010 and is presently in force. It would be interesting to see if there might be any potential patent infringement, which looks unlikely going by the scope of claims of the referenced patent. For example, primary independent claim states:
“Claim 1. A computer system, comprising:
a centralized, Internet-hosted service that is accessible by users of a plurality of travel and hospitality locations, the service including, for each location, providing to the location (1) information specific to the location and (2) information applicable to more than one of the locations .”
Furthermore, dependent claims related to food and beverages are:
“Claim 11. The computer system of claim 1, wherein, for each location, the service provides food and beverages services.
Claim 12. The computer system of claim 11, wherein, for each location, food and beverages services may be ordered as a room service request.”
Although patent looks similar to the integrated mobile technology as introduced in Singapore, there are bound to be stark differences in technical features as the patent claims from a US patent application filed in 2005 while the latest technology introduced utilizes iPads, iPhones and related new generation technology devices and corresponding software.
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By Rahul Dev
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