During the summer months, there’s nothing better than adding a dollop of sun worshipping to a platter of your favorite food and a glass of chilled rosé – presenting you with some sizzling sales opportunities.  But outside dining also poses some real operational challenges.  When 70% of people would increase their dwell time if al fresco table service was available and 48% say slow or poor service most puts them off eating outside, let mobile pick up the slack to make sure your sun worshipping diners never leave early because of bad service.

As delightful as Al Fresco dining is for customers, many restaurants, bars and cafés are reluctant to open up their service to the great outdoors because they think the operational headaches outweigh any potential uplift in sales.  These challenges include stretching your team across both indoor and outdoor areas resulting in slow or sub-par service, difficulties for guests attracting staff attention and communicating effectively as well as inconvenient access to POS terminals by staff as they’re often located within the venue.  But what if you could banish these complications and reap the rewards of additional al fresco sales without the operational woes?

The good news is you can and mobile is the answer.

Recent research by Hospitality GEM found that 37% of guests would be more inclined to dine outside if they could simply communicate with serving staff via an app on their smartphone.  Operators could even take that one step further and let guests communicate directly with the POS removing the need for wait staff to free up time from indoor guests to serve its outdoor clientele.

By allowing guests to use a mobile order and payment application on their phone, they can relax, decide which table has the best sunshine-to-shade ratio, settle in and order when it suits them using their smartphone.  Some mobile apps not only allow you to order but also to add, amend, split bills and pay for your check making sure the guest al fresco experience never depends on wait staff availability.  It also means your team can focus on providing great service to higher value customers or those that want or need face-to-face assistance.

“As soon as spring comes around, our numbers head upward, and having our two patios allows us to capture more business than our competitors who don’t have the benefit of an outdoor dining space.” 

Costanzo Astarita, Baraonda.

When 70% of guests say they’d increase their dwell time if al fresco table service was available, it provides an excellent opportunity to not only provide that table service through mobile but also to market to this particular type of customer.  For example, Fast Casual found that 43% of Millennials said they spent more money on alcohol when dining outdoors, a flow of money that frequently accelerates with the presence of an outdoor bar.  So why not capitalize on that fact and offer an al fresco-only happy hour alerting those Millennials and Gen Z’s of this offer through their mobile?  All they then then need to do is check into their table, click on the offer taking them to the promotional drinks menu, order, pay then sit back, relax and enjoy the sunshine.

And you can take that demographic profiling one step further.  A sub-set of Millennials – families with children – are also attracted to the light.  Hospitality GEM found that 42% of those with kids will use an outdoor space as they’re able to move around more easily and can make more noise than is normally acceptable inside.  Generally, juggling a couple of unruly kids, trying to keep them entertained, contained and operating under a certain noise threshold is pretty stressful for most parents as they attempt to get in and out of a restaurant or café without too many dirty looks from fellow diners.  Again, mobile can make al fresco dining for families a little less chaotic by letting parents order exactly what they want, straight from their mobile without the need for finding and flagging down wait staff.  As soon as they’ve finished their meal, they can settle up the bill and make a move at a pace which suits them.

Make mobile self-service the answer to your outdoor service challenges and enjoy the extra boost to your sales by attracting those al fresco customers who demand great service.  And remember, your outdoor areas aren’t just for summer.  Mobile order and pay accompanied by cozy blankets, heaters, fire bowls and fire pits can make al fresco areas profitable throughout the year!