Pay at the Table

Applebee’s gives customers more control of dining experience

Casual dining chain Applebee’s is looking to redefine and enhance its guest experience by placing tablets tableside. The company plans to deploy 100,000 devices — E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel — chainwide by the end of 2014. It is installing the tablets on every table and in multiple bar positions at its more than 1,8000 U.S. restaurants.

“It puts control of the dining experience in the right hands,” said Dan Smith, communications manager at Applebee’s franchisor DineEquity. “The first thing customers notice is the ability to pay with a credit card when they’re done dining.”

However, in addition to allowing customers to automatically order appetizers, drinks and desserts, and pay the check, the Presto tablets also let them take a deeper look at menu items and obtain product information from the Applebee’s website. Customers can also play games on the tablets for a daily fee of $1.

“The vision is to create an ongoing two-way dialog with every customer and offer a personalized experience for customer visits in real time,” Smith said.

To that end, Applebee’s is sending customer recommendations and showing images based both on their past behavioral and purchase history and time of visit. The company is also testing the tablets as a means of delivering its loyalty program, and is “future-proofing” the tablets by including features such as Bluetooth, NFC chips and Web cameras.

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