Every day, it seems, we move closer and closer to becoming a society that doesn’t require us to carry cash (or even a debit/credit card) for payment.
Uber lets us pay for cabs from our phones, Homejoy lets us book and pay for cleaning services through an app, and now OpenTable will begin allowing users to pay for their meals table side with a new version of the current OpenTable app.
Though digitalized table side payment isn’t necessarily a new idea (others like Paypal and E la Carte have been experimenting with similar services for awhile), the process can often be a complex transition for restaurants. In addition to traditional POS systems, the software and hardware to facilitate digital table side payments can be costly, buggy, and difficult to integrate.
Even on the customer side, most of us already have too many apps. Our home screens are cluttered and the last thing we need is another app taking up precious storage space.
That’s where OpenTable has a huge advantage. Millions of diners are already using OpenTable to make reservations and get tables. Beyond connecting a payment method to your OpenTable account, users won’t need to take any dramatic action to use table side payment. Beyond that, restaurants who are already taking reservations with OpenTable won’t have to worry about using new software. A big plus when you’ve got a busy staff, a lot of reservations and not a lot of downtime.
For now, the payment option will only be available in New York, but OpenTable has announced that they plan to expand the service to San Francisco and 20 other cities by year’s end.
So, on the surface, the impact of OpenTable payment is this: diners will have a more convenient way to pay without having to download a new app and restaurant owners will have a brand new method of accepting payment that encourages diners to come for the convenience without having to integrate an entirely new system. Certainly plenty to be excited about there.
But wait, that’s not all.
With a digitalized table side payment method that works and is convenient come a few less obvious perks. First, without having to run back and forth from the table to deliver the check, accept the form of payment, run the payment, close out the check and deliver the receipt to the diner, OpenTable payment will save servers a lot of time. This means better service, happier servers, and happier diners who can leave as soon as they’ve settled up without having to wait to get the check or receive their cards.
In addition, OpenTable payment lets diners keep a running tab of what they’ve ordered and what they’re being billed. This takes the mystery out of getting the check and may even lead to larger check sizes and better tips, as totals are easily viewed and calculated in-app.
Though only time will tell if we’ll all be paying via the OpenTable app in a few years’ time, the early signs are encouraging: this app is one that serves a dual purpose, is user-friendly and market-tested, already enjoys a large user base, and takes the convenience of dining out one step further.
What do you think? Will you be using OpenTable to reserve tables and pay for meals when the payment feature comes to your city?