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An Efficient Touchless Experience

Touradj Barman, President and Co-Founder, Up n’ go Contactless Payments
How is technology facilitating a touchless guest experience?
Technology’s job is to nudge what already exists to support what people are already doing. Apple Pay is a familiar example: People already have phones and merchants already have card readers, and for centuries, consumers have reached towards merchants to make purchases. When someone hovers a phone they already have, over a card reader the merchant already owns with a gesture used for centuries, you have an efficient touchless experience. Up n’ go brings this experience from the counter to the table letting guests scan a QR code on a check that’s already presented using a phone they already own.
Describe the ideal restaurant guest experience from ordering through bill paying.
The ideal experience is still years away: I’d walk into a restaurant, sit at my favorite table and have a meal perfectly suited to my taste and mood delivered to me without even ordering. Why should I think about what I want to eat? Thinking is work. If the chef is good, they’ll know want to serve me to delight me, just like when you receive a gift from a very thoughtful person who knows you well. As for paying, I wouldn’t think about that either; I’d just walk out when I’m finished and know my bill was paid.
How does a touchless experience benefit the guest? Restaurant? Staff?
A touchless experience reduces work for everybody. Pulling out cards, passing them around, and the rest of that hassle we all know too well is not only inconvenient and unpleasant, but it wastes everyone’s time. Staff could be taking new orders at other tables. Guests could be enjoying time with their friends. Dining out should a pleasure, and one of the least pleasant experiences I can imagine is someone asking for money. Let’s soften that step. Let’s make payments more secure, splitting checks more fair, tipping not require chargeback-prone handwriting analysis, and of course, make the payment process more hygienic.
Do you have metrics about the efficiencies and ROI that Up n’ go delivers?
Prior to Covid, we did a case study at a busy breakfast restaurant using Up n’ go in Hoboken, New Jersey. We analyzed two months of sales data and separated the payments made using Up n’ go from the payments made not using Up n’ go. The difference was almost hard to believe: Guests who paid with Up n’ go spent an average of $40 in 41 minutes, while the guests who didn’t pay with Up n’ go spent an average of $38 in 61 minutes. That means guests paying with Up n’ go spent 59% more money per hour!
Up n’ go was built in a restaurant (San Diego restaurant Starlite) to streamline the checkout process. Where do you see the industry (including tableside ordering and mobile payments) heading?
Up n’ go was indeed built in a restaurant! To solve a problem, I wanted to be immersed in it. I wanted a restaurant operator to tell me their problems, what works in restaurants, and what doesn’t. Many ideas of how to pay in a restaurant sound spectacular, but don’t work in a real restaurant environment. Going back to my first response: winning technology is incremental. You can’t expect guests or staff to veer too far from what they’re already doing. The industry will evolve with technology that supports existing workflows and leverages as much of existing technology as possible.