Ultimate Guide to Mobile Messaging Apps for Restaurants

Mobile messaging is crucial for managing real-time digital waitlists in restaurants. Our ultimate guide looks at how this tool radically improves your restaurant’s operations, observing how mobile messaging transforms dining experiences.

A mobile messaging app tailored specifically for restaurants can be a game-changer. Read more: Benefits of Restaurant WhatsApp Integration.

customer with smartphone--mobile messaging transforms dining experiences--pexels--pixabay.org

Image by Pexels from Pixabay (creative commons 2.0)

Restaurant Staffing Procedures Without Mobile Messaging Technology

Without digital tech, your restaurant’s processes may seem like the only way to run things. Not true. 

So which front-of-house procedures could improve with mobile messaging technology?

  • Restaurant pagers. Providing guests with a hand-out pager to alert them that their table is ready.
  • Reservations. Maintaining a visible board or paper system to monitor table statuses such as ‘occupied’ and ‘available’.
  • Communication with customers. Using a digital waitlist, there is no need for phone calls or verbal cues to alert customers on the status of their wait.

Read more on virtual queues: If Customers Leave Will They Return?

What is Mobile Messaging for Restaurants?

When using mobile messaging to manage a digital waitlist, restaurants benefit from various tools. Bridging the gap between convenience and functionality, mobile messaging provides customers with a convenient method for interacting with the restaurant, café, or venue (and vice-versa).

Understanding this tool is simple: in day-to-day life, everyone knows how to send and receive messages. Nine-in-ten people in the USA alone carry smartphones

So, mobile messaging in restaurants is a very good idea. We outline the essential features that every well-integrated mobile messaging app will provide for restaurants:

Features, Features, Features

  • Instant real-time two-way communication. This is the basic outline of a mobile-messaging function: to send and receive customer messages. The improvement is better staff coordination and faster resolution of guest requests.
  • Waitlist management. If your restaurant or bar is full, place the customer into your digital waitlist along with their phone number, and message the customer when you have a table or place for them. Real-time two-way communication keeps everyone in sync.
  • Table Reservation Management. Customers who have booked tables online can receive real-time updates via SMS and WhatsApp on their booking.  
  • Order Management. Your customers can place food and drink orders directly through links provided in SMS or WhatsApp messages. This optimises the ordering process and enhances customer satisfaction with prompt service.
  • Menu Integration. There’s no trouble in providing customers with up-to-date menu information, including specials and pricing, by including a link in messages.
  • Notifications and alerts for the restaurant. To coincide with messaging features, restaurants receive real-time notifications on guest updates, such as a cancelled booking.
  • Multilingual Support. Good mobile messaging supports many language templates to accommodate different customer backgrounds. Your restaurant can expand your customer base, providing accessible service to a diverse audience.

Why Should My Restaurant Use an App’s Mobile Messaging Features?

To thrive in our hyper-connected digital world, the hospitality industry has to adapt to new communication technologies. 

Mobile messaging is a versatile tool that enables a digital waitlist to function, enhancing overall operational functionality.

Curious to know more? Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Waitlist App.

Also, another way mobile messaging transforms dining experiences is that it offers restaurants and other businesses the chance to uplift customer engagement. 

Read more below for all you need to know about why your restaurant needs to use mobile messaging technology.

Closer to Customers

Two-way communication with mobile messaging offers heaps of convenience, like real-time booking confirmations, feedback, and table availability — all help to elevate the customer experience to new heights, ensuring they feel heard and valued.

Also, an app is a direct line to a customer’s pocket. A timely message about a promotion, exclusive event, or update to the menu keeps your customers in the loop and entices them to make a repeat visit.

Post-visit impressions are crucial. Follow-up messages and surveys solicit feedback, offering insights into the customer’s experience which can be vital for service refinement and enhancement.

Optimised Operations

Automated texts handle waitlist management and table booking reminders in real time, which not only makes the process of welcoming and seating customers more efficient but also 

  • enables the operation of a digital waitlist — customers can leave a phone number and not have to stand around waiting for a table
  • keeps restaurant staff up to date on booking alterations 
  • cuts down on no-shows, optimising table management, reminding customers in real time when they have an upcoming booking and should cancel if they cannot honour the booking

Staff work swiftly with real-time notifications that concern customer-related information, leading to tailored customer experiences. 

Crucially, staff also work faster with text messaging. Instead of being tethered to the phone to speak with customers, text messaging (including WhatsApp) allows staff to respond to customer queries on their table bookings with ease.

restaurant guest with smart device--mobile messaging transforms dining experiences--Jess Foami--pixabay.org

Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay (creative commons 2.0)

Pricing: Mobile Messaging and the Costs

It is useful to bear in mind that there is a business model to all this. 

While text and WhatsApp messages are free to consumers (or next-to-free) businesses sending messages must connect to software interfaces (known as an application programming interface) to do so.

As such, the sending of messages is not free. 

Therefore, the fee structure is mostly based on transactional fees for the sending back and forth of messaging, but there are other fees involved too. 

10DLC Explained

Optimal for bulk messaging, a 10 DLC code (or 10-digit long code) enables effective SMS messaging between businesses and their customers in the United States.

10DLC registration is a requirement in the United States in order for a business to send text messages. In recent years, telecom providers have stepped up regulation of businesses sending text messages due to higher levels of spam that exist in the market. 

10DLC registration enables a higher reliability to enable that messages will be sent, ensuring that customers receive messages. Registration comes with fees attached.

Learn more in our upcoming blog article.

Fee Structure

These messaging costs vary, notably by country and by messaging type (e.g. SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc). 

Registration Fees
In some markets, as in the example of the United States, there are registration requirements that must be met in order to send SMS.

Transactional Fees
Typically for text messages (SMS), the cost is a per message fee for both the sending and receiving of text messages. 

Some carriers do not charge for receiving text messages (i.e. inbound messages), and in general the fee to receive a message is much lower than the fee to send a message. 

Other message services may have slightly different fee models. WhatsApp for example charges 

  •  by country code — a WhatsApp message to a UK phone number has a different cost than one sent to an Irish phone number
  • by messaging type — according to WhatsApp’s conversation category: authentication, customer service, utility, or marketing 
  • by session — the cost of a WhatsApp message is not per message, but for a 24-hour session, allowing for unlimited messages in twenty-four hours for one fee. WhatsApp calls this conversation-based pricing

4 Guest Messaging Marketing Tips

Now you know that mobile messaging transforms dining experiences, here are four big marketing tips to entice further business:

1. Marketing List Creation

In any marketing campaign, the first thing your business needs to do is collect a list of people to market to. Thankfully, a waitlist app with instant messaging capabilities provides a method for customers to join your marketing list.  

Restaurant waitlist apps and reservation systems can offer customers to join a mobile marketing list when joining a waitlist online or booking online.

Remember, a marketing list means that consumers opt-in to the list and agree to receive messages. Therefore, to stay compliant with privacy regulations, it is critical to provide an opt-in/opt-out feature for customers. 

2. Personalised SMS Promotions

  • Personal Promotions: Use SMS marketing (and WhatsApp marketing too) to craft personalised offers to your customers. Send a message, for example, about a special dish available for a limited time. Offer discounts during slow hours.
  • Timing is Key: Send promotional messages at strategic times. For instance, dinner discounts will work best in the late afternoon.

3. Mobile Loyalty Programs

Encourage Repeat Business: Introduce a loyalty program that patrons can sign up for right on their smartphones. Make sure the program is easy to use and provides tangible rewards.

Read about how mobile messaging transforms dining experiences in our top 4 customer experience restaurant trends.

4. Customer Feedback via Mobile Messaging

  • Gather insights via text messages and WhatsApp. After a customer visits your business, send a follow-up message to ask for their feedback. This shows you value their opinion and are committed to improvement. Then this provides you with the opportunity to act on feedback you receive.
smartphone in hand--mobile messaging transforms dining experiences--jan vasek--pixabay.org

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay (creative commons 2.0)

Top 4 Mobile Messaging Benefits to Keep in Mind

Finally, let’s look at the best bits mobile messaging features can serve you.

1. Enhancing Customer Experience with Instant Engagement

With a digital waitlist, it’s essential: if you want to respond to customers while they wait, mobile messaging is the way to survive.

When restaurant staff are managing a waitlist or reservations, mobile messaging transcends traditional phone lines and email in its immediacy. As such, it’s the perfect companion for any restaurant looking to enhance the customer experience. 

Learn more about how being more engaging is a great way to avoid a restaurant no show

2. Personalised Marketing That Fills Your Tables

Empty tables are a restaurateur’s nightmare. 

Yet, with mobile messaging, you can quickly turn the tide. 

Gone are the days of passively waiting for hungry customers to walk through your doors; with strategic messaging, you can entice them to fill your tables, even during the slowest of shifts.

Find out the top 10 ways to attract restaurant customers.

3. Immediate Customer Feedback and Service Improvement

Swift feedback is a precious commodity that few restaurants can boast. By inviting patrons to share their thoughts via SMS or WhatsApp, you open a direct line to customer service improvement. 

Here’s a tip: Act on suggestions, address complaints promptly, and turn around less-than-stellar experiences with the speed of a text message. It’s service recovery at its finest and most efficient.Don’t forget: study the pros and cons of online restaurant reviews.

4. Seamless Reservation Management and Table Allocation

Reservations are the delicate tapestry of any successful restaurant, and mobile messaging weaves a sturdy addition to that fabric. 

In the hotel sector alone, over half of yearly bookings in the USA are online.

One of the reasons is because online bookings are easy.

With guest messaging features, your restaurant can handle online booking capabilities, sending confirmations, and updating customers on any changes. 

Interested in the power of online reservations? We have the guide for you: How Online Reservations Work.

Reminder. Placing Privacy at the Heart of your Mobile Messaging Strategy

Among the exuberant flourishes of mobile messaging, respecting your customers’ privacy is non-negotiable. 

Navigating the intricate maze of privacy laws such as GDPR ensures not only legal compliance but also a foundation of trust with your valued patrons.

So stick to a waitlist app that keeps your restaurant in line with GDPR regulations. 

Never underestimate privacy laws. Read why the 8 data protection principles are key.

Showcasing Success Stories with Mobile Messaging Case Studies

Nothing speaks louder than the successes of peers. 

Delve into case studies of restaurants that have utilised mobile messaging to transform their operations. Learn from their strategies! 

A Comparative Tasting of SMS vs WhatsApp

If mobile messaging is to be the spice of your restaurant, choosing the right platform is crucial. 

The type of mobile messaging to suit your restaurant depends on two factors.

  • your country 
  • how widely used the messaging service is adopted

For example, SMS is still king in the U.S., Canada, Norway, and Sweden. But many messaging apps exist across the world, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, Kakaotalk, and Line.

Whereas WhatsApp may be the most widely used messaging app in Latin American markets, Line is the preferred messaging app in Japan, and Kakaotalk in South Korea.

Pros and Cons

While simple and efficient, SMS is limited in its offering. A single SMS is limited to:

  • 160 characters
  • certain symbols and characters cannot be used (for example, some accented characters in Spanish are not available in SMS)

WhatsApp, on the other hand, offers a rich, interactive experience. To begin, each individual WhatsApp message:

  • can be up to 1,000 characters 
  • scan include images, CTA buttons with links, and more

Each messaging tool has its unique palate. Craft your strategy with a blend that best suits your restaurant’s voice and vision.

Explore the differences in our upcoming article.

The Future is Now

The last course in our mobile messaging feast indulges in future-gazing. 

AI, chatbots, and even more sophisticated mobile messaging platforms have arrived, promising an even more connected dining experience. For example, AI will revolutionise mobile marketing by helping businesses craft clever marketing campaigns in the blink of an eye, crafting the content of the messages to be sent.

So, alongside Carbonara App, stay informed, experiment with new technologies, and always remain one step ahead. 

Contact us to learn about how Carbonara App provides a low-cost mobile messaging service.

Undoubtedly mobile messaging transforms dining experiences. Learning more about our waitlist service can transform your processes.