Commentary

Mobile Payments, Restaurant Apps Don't Make the Menu

Despite all the mobile advancements in smartphone technology related to dining out, consumers don’t seem interested in restaurant apps or using mobile payments at the end of a meal.

Only about one in 10 people tried to use their phone to pay in a restaurant, even though many like the idea, based on a survey of 10 metro markets by OpenTable.

The study comprised a survey of 4,800 U.S. adult consumers who had made at least one reservation through OpenTable within the last 12 months.

The survey found that only 13% of consumers have even tried mobile payments at a restaurant and of those, only half (7%) liked the experience.

On the positive side, almost half (46%) of those who have never tired it liked the idea.

Apps are pretty much in the same boat as mobile payments.

More than half (55%) of consumers are unlikely to download a restaurant app, based on the survey. And these all are consumers who use their phones to make reservations.

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Phones are active during a restaurant visit, with many people using their phones during a meal, though the usage is different based on the category of restaurants.

For example, 43% of consumers use their phone three or more times per meal at a counter-service only restaurant, and more than a third (38%) at limited service establishments.

At fine dining restaurants, phone usage is less, with 10% using their phone three times or more per meal and 22% at full-service casual restaurants.

Of those who use their phones during meals, here’s what they do:

  • 25% -- Research and decide what to order
  • 23% -- Take a photo purely to remember the experience
  • 18% -- Check in at the location on social media
  • 15% -- Share experience on social media with photos
  • 12% -- Share experience on social media with text

So consumer mobile usage is happening in the world of restaurants, but not for what many had planned and hoped for.

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