Restaurants and Beacons: Friend or Foe?


Written By: Andrew Levi

Imagine a world where technology could entice diners into a restaurant, offer appetizers to get their meal started and even say, “Thanks for dining with us!” as they depart. This seemingly fictional world can actually become a reality fairly easily. By utilizing beacon technology, restaurants can connect with their customers via a multitude of deployment options to increase engagement and create unique, tailored dining experiences.

Beacons are portable devices that can be placed anywhere in a restaurant, or nearby location, and rely on a smartphone’s Bluetooth connection to transmit information directly to the customer. The first time the beacon connects with a device, the consumer must opt-in to continue receiving information from the beacon. Conveniently, once linked, consumers no longer have to reconnect every time they visit. Instead, the information is automatically delivered to their smartphone once they walk past the beacon, allowing them to receive deals and messages as they freely enter and exit the restaurant.

Here are five ways restaurants can begin experimenting with beacon technology in their stores today.

1.        Marketing Messages

Sending marketing messages to consumers can be a first step for restaurants looking to get their feet wet in the beacon pool. Use the technology to ping customers and offer coupons or special daily deals, such as a discount on appetizers. Enticing passerbyers who are walking to have lunch or dinner can increase sales as well as engagement with new customers.

2.        In-Store Service Messages

Regardless if the restaurant is fast casual or full service, consumers prefer visiting establishments that have quick and efficient service. By installing beacons a few blocks away or in the parking lot, restaurants can notify customers ahead of time of current wait times or table availability in real-time. While this might turn away potential guests, the location’s transparency and courtesy will leave a positive, lasting impact on the customer for future visits.

3.        Customer Feedback

Restaurants should continually work to improve a diner’s experience. Beacons can play a key role by notifying guests as they exit to complete a short customer satisfaction survey, allowing customers to state comments and opinions in real-time without direct confrontation. By asking for this feedback, restaurants are showing how much they care and value their customers’ opinions and satisfaction.

4.        Ordering Options

Beacons also have the ability to offer customers ordering options right at the table. By moving their already approved and connected device near the table beacon, customers can browse the menu on app or microsite, and potentially begin ordering drinks or appetizers without delay. This technology complements in-person service by allowing guests to begin the ordering process at their own convenience.

5.        Behavioral Analytics

When a customer opts in, the technology begins collecting data every time they engage. By learning how diners best engage with the technology, restaurants will have more insight into their unique behavior, wants/needs and preferences. This will equip restaurants to target guests more strategically with their promotional efforts and ultimately provide a better overall experience for their visitors, increasing their customer retention rate.

Author Bio

Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, an innovator and pioneer in the development and delivery of location-enabled mobile engagement solutions. Using its patented cloud-based platform, the Blue Calypso solutions elevate the consumer shopping experience through an engaging in-store mobile immersion, while capturing real-time shopper behavioral analytics for retailers and brands.