TGI Fridays rolls out tablets and trials social media check-in

TGI Fridays rolls out Microsoft tablets across its restaurant chain and experiments with data from social media check-in technologies

TGI Fridays is rolling out Microsoft tablets across its restaurant chain and experimenting with data from social media check-in technologies.

The restaurant is equipping its servers with 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets so they can quickly process orders and payments at the table.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on giving our guests the best experience possible, particularly in their interactions with our people,” said CIO Tripp Sessions. “Windows 8 gave us a platform that allowed us to develop a user interface which gives our servers even better tools to delight our guests and make their experience even more enjoyable.”

TGI Fridays is using the technology in six restaurants in Texas and Minnesota, but plans to roll out over 2,000 tablets to 80 of its 500 restaurants in the US over the next eight weeks.

The devices use Windows 8.1 running on Oracle’s Micros Restaurant Enterprise Solution (RES) 5.4 on the Dell Venue mTablet E-Series mobile point-of-sale devices.

Before the introduction of tablet devices, TGI Fridays used between six and 10 traditional point-of-sale systems in every restaurant. But servers can turnaround tables more quickly using tablets, increasing profitability – as well as their tips. The technology has also cut training time by 50%.

“We chose Microsoft because they could deliver the scale Fridays needed as a big global brand,” Sessions told Computer Weekly. “We’re in the process of rolling out 2,500 tablets – 2,500 Android or iOS mobile devices is a bit more challenging than trying to manage Windows devices, primarily because I’ve already got staff and tools set up to manage the Windows devices.”

Social media check-in

Sessions said TGI Fridays has also been trialling social check-in technology for the last 10 months, using Foursquare and Swarm to provide bartenders with information about customers as they enter a restaurant and interact on social media.

If a customer checks in at a TGI Fridays, the bar tender receives a text message saying what the customer likes to eat and drink as well as their Foursquare photo.

“We looked at all of our Foursquare locations and we realised tens of thousands of people a month were checking in and we didn’t do anything with that information,” said Sessions. “It’s the digital version of a handshake, where people were reaching out to shake our hand, and we just ignored it.”

“I get excited about how we use our brick and mortar locations to our advantage, and place smart digital layers down on top of our locations to help customers connect in the old fashioned way – face to face."

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