(RestaurantNews.com) It is rare for a restaurant manager to consider a hardware upgrade that doesn’t involve tables and chairs, lighting or dinnerware. The business has remained the same for a thousand years – just good food and ambiance, with the best of service.
The Web is making a difference at fine dining locations, with online booking services such as Open Table™ bolstering precious reservations and repeat business. Coffee shops, local diners and bars simply can’t afford that level of referral services, and might counter with little more than WiFi, hot wings and happy hours – until now.
When fixed at the head of booths, Poorts (www.poort.ca) revive the excitement that began in the 50’s around jukebox terminals, when young people gathered to feed in their dimes and quarters, to make a little noise on their own terms. Jukeboxes were an original social networking catalyst that brought boomer culture to life – and it could happen again.
Low Cost, High Power
A “Poort” is essentially a 10″ tablet housed with a strong speaker bar, together delivering the compelling audio/visual impact that a squeaky tablet alone cannot . Given its modest cost, low overhead, and broad capabilities, it is much more than a glorified menu and card scanner, bringing the Web into play for patrons.
A Poort delivers the industry-best Google 10″ tablet, deep audio and the prodigious Google ecosystem for $895 per unit, with a $100 annual support fee which includes the PoortSide booth reservation system. Poort’s competitors can charge $100 per month for a 7″ device, before considerable transaction fees. This bloated overhead can be a millstone, and does little to upgrade product, when saturated formats like “sports bar” beg for diversification.
In-house food orders using the Poorts are valid without any additional programming to your existing website. Simply register each table as a customer, and the kitchen will know it’s an in-house pickup order from ‘Table Five’. The Poort goes to work, pooling in-house orders with the online ones – in English, Spanish, French… with 46 languages supported. Just ask your Server to set it for you.
This has obvious implications for chains with developed online ordering applications, and Poorts can be trialed and adopted singly as electronic menus, order terminals, and entertainment devices with no immediate need for chain-wide integration.
Tap and Pay Built In
The big Google Nexus tablet uniquely has dual NFC sensors. This feature allows you to tap the front screen, not just the back side, making a Poort functional as a card or cellphone reader. With dual NFC already in the hardware, developers begin halfway home, and sidestepping more fees – Google Wallet is free.
Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android with NFC supports multiple users, enabling regulars to load their data and files each time with a tap. These capabilities can have profound implications for involving customers in promos and group business. Once the canned music is turned off, the entire Web is open to your patrons, individually, and in concert that happy cacophony will come to signal congeniality to all who witness it.
Poort CEO and designer Dwight Jones identifies this transition back to noisy, busy bars and eateries, from walled TVs and piped-in music to personal choice off the Web, as a sea change that may not work with fine dining, but is likely to be preferred in most other settings.
“When you pull open the door of a Poort-equipped bar, you’ll know it.” he says. His firm is now inviting partners and developers for Android networking utilities that automate and extend Poort management.
Skype HD Video Conferencing
Using the front-facing camera and audio capabilities of a Poort, each restaurant location becomes a catered conferencing site. Business people can standardize on a particular chain, and interact in live HD video with their colleagues or clients anywhere. No extra cost, to anyone – it is just a matter of time before major chains exploit this niche.
Here is a singular device that doesn’t take up counter space, get broken, dropped or stolen, or spread Norwalk among your clientele if you neglect sterilizing. Poorts don’t impose overhead with stiff monthly fees, and its modular design means you can install or swap out the tablet or speaker yourself. The heavy casing is built and rings like a church bell, and will last a lifetime.
That little diner, or perhaps a struggling restaurant group, suddenly takes on some sizzle – music and noisy laughter pour out of them, after an easy retrofit. Maybe two or ten songs or movies are going at the same time – who cares? Customers will appreciate the wide options and trust that Poorts extend to them, and will choose to socialize around one – why not?
Poorts may revive the jukebox era, and return restaurant or bars to vibrancy once more. The tablet industry has just got started, but it already has an affordable, interactive upgrade that invites new business plans.