What is in this article?:
- Buffalo Wild Wings ramps up tablet rollout
- A complement to a new prototype
The casual-dining chain aims to have tabletop computers in 500 restaurants by 2015.
Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. said this week that the tablet computers currently in use at tables in 150 company-owned restaurants would roll out to 500 locations by the end of this year and to all of its more than 1,000 restaurants in North America by late 2015.
The Minneapolis-based casual-dining chain chose Buzztime BEOND 7-inch tablets to allow guests to order and pay at the table, as well as access complimentary and prepaid content like sports highlights or play video poker and trivia. The multiyear agreement follows a test of the tablets in 30 Buffalo Wild Wings locations.
“We were pleasantly surprised that both usage and game play on the tablets increased [during test] versus our older platform, as did the number of people registering their information on the tablet,” said Ben Nelsen, vice president of guest experience and innovation for Buffalo Wild Wings. “We want to provide our guests choices when ordering, and if they’re comfortable using tablets, we want to provide that.”
Tablet technology is top of mind for several restaurant chains, from a test of customizable burgers built with an iPad at a handful of McDonald’s restaurants to the systemwide adoption of tableside tablets for Applebee’s and Chili’s.
Another casual-dining bellwether, The Cheesecake Factory, recently said it would not adopt tablets in its restaurants anytime soon, despite analysts’ predictions that more chains would explore the possible labor-saving benefits of such systems.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ tablets offer the interactive and entertainment experiences of playing trivia and video poker, as well as request certain channels on TVs nearby or certain songs to be played in the restaurant, Nelsen noted. He added that the operational features, such as paging the “guest experience captains” or servers on the floor to bring the check, or ordering and paying from the tablet, are meant to complement Buffalo Wild Wings’ “guest experience” model that also is spreading systemwide this year.
“We think this will free up guest experience captains and servers to leverage the experience and the technology,” he said. “The guests are very interested in the features on the tablet, and that just gives our staff another tool to deliver that ultimate experience.”
Nelsen stressed that the adoption of tableside tablets was not “a labor play” meant to reduce the number of team members or managers on the floor or to manage any percentage points off Buffalo Wild Wings’ labor cost.
“It’s a sensitive topic for the servers when they see these things come up, but we have no plans to replace servers through technology,” Nelsen said. “This will be an enhancement to the service model — certainly not a replacement. This is really a guest experience and entertainment play, and we’re giving more tools to our servers and guest experience captains.”