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Study Says Restaurant Customers Are Ready to Use Payment Technology

As the U.S. restaurant industry gradually rolls out guest-operated payment technology, a Cornell study finds that restaurant guests are enthusiastically ready to use smartphones and table-top tablets to pay their bill. In a survey of nearly 1,300 U.S. consumers, the study found that the consumers rated paying with technology significantly higher than the traditional payment method that involves handing over a credit card. The study, "Ready and Willing: Restaurant Customers' View of Payment Technology," by Sheryl Kimes and Joel Collier, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR).

"Our study was conducted before Apple Pay was announced, but it's clear that restaurant customers are ready to use this kind of technology to settle their checks," said Kimes, a professor of operations management and a Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellow at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "We tested the use of smartphone apps and table-top systems on eight different measures. Technology beat out the traditional settlement method on all eight, including overall guest satisfaction."

Restaurant operators should take notice of consumers' favorable view of payment technology, since the industry has long been concerned that guests would not want to use it, adds Collier, an associate professor at Mississippi State University. "What's especially interesting is that the consumers in our study gave high marks to payment technology for its privacy aspect, since their credit card never leaves their hands," Collier says. "I also want to point out that these consumers said that payment technology would encourage them to spend more money on their next visit to a restaurant."

In their study, Kimes and Collier showed 1,297 survey respondents one of three restaurant payment scenarios that apply to settling the check in a casual restaurant. The respondents rated settlement using smartphones, table-top systems, and traditional methods on the following eight measurements: accuracy, control of pacing, convenience, efficiency, experience quality, future spending intentions, privacy, and satisfaction with the payment method. On all eight measurements, paying with technology was rated significantly higher than the traditional settlement approach.

Although this study specifically applies to consumers in casual restaurants, Kimes and Collier suggest that it appears that restaurant operators do not have to be concerned about guests' acceptance of customer payment technologies. In fact, given increasing privacy concerns, some guests may greatly appreciate the control and privacy that they gain by being able to use payment technologies.
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