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6 Tech Tips to Boost Restaurant Biz from Appointment TV

The Super Bowl. The Academy Awards. Buzz-worthy shows like Game of Thrones  and Downton Abbey. These are programs TV viewers don’t want to miss. They want the immediate satisfaction of seeing these programs live – and don’t want them ruined by seeing something on social media before they watch it.  So, people schedule their lives around them.

They also want to share the viewing experience with friends and family — cheering, laughing and crying together — so they can discuss the latest play, plot point, or cliff hanger. And, they want to be part of the worldwide virtual water cooler by sharing their thoughts and reactions on social media as they happen.
TV viewing, once a solitary activity most people did in the privacy of their homes, has become a social activity. “Viewing parties” are now common, complete with decorations, themed dress, food and drinks.

Many bar and restaurant operators are catering to this “must-see-TV” watching crowd with special promotions. But, to be truly successful, restaurants and bars must go beyond offering great food, drinks and extra service on the nights customers come in for Appointment TV. They need the right technology in place as well. Bars and restaurants can cash in on the Appointment TV trend by following some simple advice. Here Comcast offers six tips to boost business generated by these television moments.
1 Install high-definition (HD) TVs and be sure they have a crystal clear signal. Patrons are accustomed to high-quality picture and sound at home, and establishments should offer the same. Be certain that all channels are HD, not just a few. And make sure to select a TV service package with an extensive lineup of sports channels so patrons don’t have to go elsewhere to see all the big games.

2 Save money on your TV service package by seeking out one with a flat monthly fee instead of a monthly fee based on seating occupancy.

3 Don’t forget about WiFi. A 2014 survey of entrepreneurs and small business IT decision makers conducted by Bredin Research found that WiFi helps draw in business. Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering Wi-Fi (79%) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait, 65% report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55% say it has brought in new customers.

WiFi could be more important for bars and restaurants than the food and drinks themselves. These days, Tweeting about a show is almost as important as watching the show. Viewers want to be able to update their social media pages, check fantasy sports leagues and instant message friends who can’t be with them. They also want WiFi access to “check-in” at establishments via popular social sharing sites like Yelp and Facebook — a consumer-driven habit that has become a good extension to an establishment’s own marketing.

4 Select a fast, reliable and scalable Internet backbone to support your WiFi network — one with enough bandwidth to support multiple (possibly hundreds, depending on the size of the establishment) of simultaneous connections. Chances are, the Internet speeds that restaurants ordered just a few years ago are not keeping up with the bandwidth demands of today.

5 Pay attention to Internet security. Your Internet service should be more than just fast and reliable. It also needs to be secure. Restaurants should have a secure, private wireless network for business use, and a separate public hotspot for patrons. It is critical to keep business processes such as credit card payments, POS transactions and business email separate from the public WiFi access. These transactions should be done over a secure and encrypted network.

6 Promote and publicize. Many customers actively seek out bars and restaurants that offer free WiFi, so promoting this amenity is key to making your WiFi investment yield a quick return. Establishments with an active social media presence should promote their free WiFi and HD TVs as part of their marketing mix.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 35 percent of patrons are more likely to take advantage of restaurant technology than they were two years ago. A quarter of adults in the survey said the availability of technology options is an important factor when choosing a restaurant — something that jumps up to a third for tech-savvy millennial respondents.

Don’t let patrons walk out your door, looking for a better option. Appointment TV is a growing opportunity for bars and restaurants, as long as you have the right combination of HDTV and high-performance Internet with free WiFi. Catering to TV, WiFi and social media consuming groups can not only lead to a record day of food and beverage sales, but it can also turn first-time patrons into repeat customers.
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