Tackling Technology

Restaurant

Among the many issues beverage executives are confronted with today, emerging technologies can be both intimidating and promising. Which to use and how to use them, whether based on social media promotions and communications with customers, or applications and programs that not only make ordering more interesting and compelling but also supply operators with crucial data about who orders what and when - the choices seem endless.

Two panels at the Vibe Conference tried to illuminate better the possibilities available to operators, one in particular a chance to examine three different technological advances. One was a new twist aiming to solve long-standing problems of over-pouring, shrinkage and theft, as in Beverage Metrics’ Tilt system. Short for Total Inventory Liquor Tracking Solution, the system aims to simplify and improve inventory processes, reduce labor costs by eliminating the task of counting bottles by hand and greater accountability of inventory. Wireless sensors monitor all pours, even beer taps, in real time with or without pour spouts.

Tackling a different aspect of on-premise matters, Uncorkd is an iPad-based wine list and beverage menu platform, one that introduces marketing and promotions, menu analytics, quick menu updates as well as a database of nearly 1000,000 wines, beers and spirits so that customers can get swift information about their beverage choices, tasting notes and how they might pair with dishes sold that day. Customized per operation, Uncorkd offers to solve the dilemma of servers too busy or unknowledgeable about beverages to be helpful, as well as compiling real info about what guests actually prefer to drink.

Then there’s Ziosk, a 7-inch Android touchscreen tablet that takes orders, secures payments via an encrypted credit card reader, and that promises dramatic increases in usage of loyalty programs, and especially surveys that can reveal to operators just how and why they choose a restaurant. Daily, weekly and monthly reports on sales, server performance and guest satisfaction, crucial at a time when building traffic remains difficult, are among the services that operators can add to their own Ziosk systems.

None of these technologies is a magic bullet; all must be used wisely and the data acted on swiftly, for them to perform as promised. But operators who had a chance to see them in depth at Vibe recently now have a better idea of what actually might suit their needs.