Political Foodie: What Do You Think of This Idea?

By Andrew Rigie, NYC Hospitality Alliance

August 19, 2014

You receive a phone call from a person who found out that some VIPs (family, friends or clients) have a reservation confirmed at your restaurant. The caller would like to surprise these VIPs by purchasing their first round of cocktails at dinner.


Q.  How does your restaurant manage this transaction?

A.  From my conversations with restaurant operators, I’ve learned that there is not a popular system available to seamlessly manage these transactions, especially when such a request is made right before the party is scheduled to arrive.  So the process is usually cumbersome.  A reservationist must email a prepay form to the caller, which they must then print, fill out and sign. Then the caller must scan and email the form back to the restaurant with a copy of their i.d. and credit card.  What an inconvenient process this is for everyone involved, especially for the caller who just wants to make a nice gesture and spend money at your restaurant.

In this day and age when technology is enhancing the way restaurants operate, it seems that there should be a more effective way to execute these kind of transactions.  Right? Is there?

Perhaps a platform could be developed that would integrate into a restaurant’s reservation and point of sale system, then alert servers to the details of the surprise gift.  All while allowing the caller to easily enter details of the gift, credit card information and allow them to e-sign.  This process also has the added benefit of protecting a customer’s credit card number through a secure digital platform vs. having credit card numbers emailed and passed around on a PDF pay form. The platform could also help a restaurant capture data on the caller, such as an email address, etc. that could then be analyzed along with other guest intelligence.  This platform would allow technology to further enhance a restaurant’s operations and generate revenue.

While there are apps that allow customers to give people prepaid cups of coffee etc., these platforms are primarily used in the fast casual sector because they are not advanced enough to meet the needs of full service restaurants.

Please let the NYC Hospitality Alliance know how your restaurant handles transactions such as those described above. Are there any good programs out there that you use? Do you have any tips for your industry colleagues?

Start the conversation and share your thoughts on our blog or email me directly at

Perhaps there’s a savvy technology company reading this blog right now that will develop a platform to better manage this process and integrate into a restaurant’s existing operations.  If a company develops such a platform, all I ask is that they do not forget to make a generous contribution to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, if they strike it rich with this idea!

Andrew Rigie | Executive Director | NYC Hospitality Alliance Andrew Rigie is the Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. He serves on multiple committees relating to hospitality, he is a vocal industry advocate and recognized commentator for local, national and international media inquiries relating to New York City’s hospitality industry.

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