ReadyPing is a new mobile solution for restaurant owners which lets a host or hostess alert customers when their table is ready via a mobile notification. The system, a vast improvement over the restaurant pagers currently in use today, lets diners wander beyond the restaurant's immediate vicinity - something that would be especially handy for those one hour waits. The only question we have about ReadyPing is this: why didn't someone think of this sooner?
When going out to eat, there's nothing worse than being told the wait time is 45 - 60 minutes and the restaurant is so over-crowded with customers that you can't even make your way to the bar. Unfortunately, the only choice customers have today is to crowd in and bear it since the paging systems used by restaurants have such a limited range. This is especially trying when you're at a restaurant that's in a mall plaza where other shops, bars, or coffeehouses are only steps away. But instead of being able to kill time in the bookstore, for example, customers have to wait, bored and crowded, in the restaurant's entry way.
ReadyPing solves this problem and does so without the need for restaurants to invest in additional hardware or software. Instead, the system allows for text messages to be sent to the waiting dinner guests. To use the system, a host or hostess enters in the party's name, number of guests, and a mobile number. When a table becomes available, the host clicks a button to send out a customized text message.
The cost of using the system is a flat $34.95 per month for unlimited messaging and there are no setup fees. At the moment, ReadyPing is U.S.-only, but there's no reason why they couldn't expand to other parts of the world at a later point.
There is a potential drawback to using a system like this - and that's the restaurant customers themselves. Given free range, people will likely wander off much farther away from the restaurant than before and that could delay the time between the text's delivery and their return by several minutes, possibly even five or ten. This would dramatically slow down the seating process and would frustrate those on the list behind them.
Before a restaurant implemented such a system as this, it would be necessary to retrain hosting staff so they understood the potential issues. Perhaps instead of waiting until a table was actually ready before alerts were sent, ReadyPing users could anticipate ahead of time that a table was about to become ready. This would give customers the additional time needed to return to the restaurant from wherever they had ventured off to. Perhaps staff could even work out a system where awaiting customers were pinged as current customers were brought their checks. Further integration with restaurant POS systems to do so would be even better, but something like that may be beyond ReadyPing's capabilities.
Another potential drawback to ReadyPing is that some customers would be hesitant to give out their phone number, despite assurances that data is secured. For those customers, backup pagers may still need to be used or they may need to wait the old-fashioned way - listening for the hostess to call their name aloud.
Real-World Mobile Technology
In any event, the ReadyPing system is a great example of an application that solves a real-world problem which so many of us can relate to. Thanks to mobile technology, we expect to see more everyday, useful solutions like this in the near future.