Creative Uses for the Tablet PC and iPad in Hotel F&B Operations


By Frederick J. DeMicco, Dr. Food Tech and Mike Teng

Tablet PCs, including iPads are taking our hospitality industry by storm. About 140 million tablets are manufactured and shipped worldwide each year and this is projected to increase to at least 2017 (Statista, 2013).

We recently asked our capstone hospitality strategic technologies class here in the Lerner College at the University of Delaware to provide some examples of how the tablet/iPad could be used in a F&B operation. One interesting idea that was germinated was using the iPad as an ordering device from the table (not very new or novel these days), but the novelty was being able to view the entire preparation of your dish live via a camera in the kitchen (and see the step of the recipe in real time) from your restaurant seat as the chef prepared your menu item. We like this, as today’s consumers generally tend to be “culinary literate” but not as “culinary savvy” (in preparing menu items). So this video of the action of menu item preparation is a type of culinary education for the guest.

Some other suggestions from the UD class include the following:

  • Use the iPad for interactive media for guests while they wait, including games, and menu rating/comments available to all guests in the nearby environment.
  • Social media: open comment cards available to all diners. (Nina Clark, Robert Serpico, Lindsay Rogers, Madeline Gouge)
  • The iPad is a combination of “Open Table,” a menu, and an ordering system, and there would be one iPad per table, as the home screen would be a replica of the table. Guests would tap the seat they are in, fill in their name, and then click on the items on the menu that they would like. If a guest orders an alcoholic beverage, they can snap a picture of their ID, and the iPad would scan the ID. This way, restaurants only need food runners and bussers who will be able to address the guests by name. (Caroline Sohodski, Allison Hanik, Mary Palma, Katelyn Morse)
  • A new way to use the iPad would be as an entertainment system for the guests before they are seated. They can even act as the buzzer system to let them know when they will be seated, it will then act as the menu where customers can input their order themselves and then will show the process of time as the food is being made. (Callie D’Ambrisi, Alexandra Giannini, Adam Cowperthwait, Stephanie Johnson).
  • Use the iPad as an Internal Yelp! in which to enter your information to see what you ordered the last time and see the ratings of what other guests said about their dishes. (Brian Prickril, Alexander Vellios, Seth Bergman, Anne Truono).
  • Guests could use the iPad on the table to summon the server. Many times servers don’t know the right time to clear the table, the guests can push the button on the iPad to send a signal to the server to avoid any confusion; at the same time, it can be used to request the check. (Lindsay Canell, Rachel Borkoski, Samantha Dominguez, Stephanie Hepner).
  • Use as a Built into cutting board.  (Anam Ahmed, Teal Murphy, John Guzman, Justin Tansey).
    (cutting board providing preparation and cooking instructions on the imbedded tablet PC or iPad and may be feasible when the tablet prices come down drastically- perhaps in the future.)
  • The menu is an iPad with behind the scene options + videos of the kitchen preparing your meal. (Jean Thomae, Morgan West, Maria Trasolini, Kaitlyn Wendler).
  • Commercial free Pandora — personalized (increased bapasa) jukebox to create a nice atmosphere at your restaurant  table or booth. (Junyi Chung, Michael Diminick, Qichao Zhou, Matthew Heck).
  • Providing games or social media apps of the company on the iPad. (Wang Yanqin, Zhao Qian, Dongqiong Luo).
  • Guests could use the iPad at their table to track where the ingredients of the menu offerings originate from; this gives restaurants more incentive to use local, organic, quality ingredients. (Lauren Mitchell, Julie Garafalo, Dingchao He, Brandon Groux, Alexander Vellios).
  • Use the iPad as a digital dessert tray to showcase desserts and specials on menu. Interactive nutritional information allows guest to see how adding ingredients will affect the nutritional value of an item (Amy Cohn, Kimberly Lindell, Alexandra Rufo, Megan Smutz).
  • Use the iPad to order food and drinks. Then can use as a payment device with a credit card swipe attachment  on the iPad such as the “Square” plug in on the iPad (or iPhone) device.  (Jessica Rosenberg, Sara Kazmierski, Dennis O’Malley, Leigh Redefer).
  • And finally, provide live streaming  videos of your meal being cooked and plated. And also receive real time regular progress notifications/updates throughout the meal.
    (Jennifer Turowski, Jessica Wincott, Schuyler Lehman).

Anybody out there have other suggestions they can share?  We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Food Tech, Fred DeMicco