From Phone to Fork…and everything in between – Going out to eat post COVID19

This is a personal account of the writer’s experiences, observations and thoughts while venturing out to a cafe post a 4 month lockdown.

The human need to meet, greet and eat will never change. One of the first things that I did when the COVID 19 induced national sterilization program (the United Arab Emirates’ version of the lockdown) was officially announced as over, I ventured out, hesitantly, to a popular café to have my first ‘proper’ cup of coffee. It was a welcome thought, far from the spoon of instant coffee, a dash of milk and the boiling water. More than the coffee, it was the sights, sounds, smells that I was looking forward to.

The café was ready, all precautionary measures in place, distant tables, service counters out of bounds for guests, bottles of sanitizer everywhere. People sitting and chatting, laughing reminding me that it was the same world we had been in before locking ourselves up for almost 12 weeks. A masked, smiling, so I think, waiter approached me asking me to scan the QR code on the table to access the menu. I followed instructions and was greeted by a rather slow loading, heavy image of a menu card, hosted on a social media page. A few pinches and drags later, I had located the coffee section and placed an order.

After coffee, I was presented the bill in a folder. Customarily I took it, and after checking handed over my card. Swipe, smile and card back in the pocked I doused my hands in sanitizer and headed back to the car thinking not about the great coffee or the joy of meeting a friend but strangely about the bill folder and my card. How many hands may the bill folder have passed through, how many cards has the terminal processed…oh and the pin pad !

Unfortunately, this is the reality faced by customers and restaurants alike. People are scared and hospitality to recover, people need to be safe and have reasons to come back. The customer journey has been remapped. If it’s a contactless experience that is required, let it be truly contactless, easy to use, seamlessly managed and leaving the customer feeling that the restaurant has really done its best to keep him / her safe.

A QR Code which can be scanned easily, points at an easy to navigate, well created and branded digital menu, the option to order using your phone, the ability to view the bill without having to touch a folder or piece of paper and of course a digital payment option is what will make the contactless dining experience truly contactless.

Hotels and restaurants taking post COVID19 guest safety seriously should look at Prologic First’s QR Menu. A robust yet simple and affordable solution that goes a long way to promote guest safety and operational efficiency.

(The experiences accounted here are the author’s own and do not reflect that of Prologic First in any way)