T.G.I. Friday’s app lets guests pay via smartphone

The app is called "My Friday's Tab"

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And the receipt?

You can have the receipt emailed to you. You can keep track of how you are spending. You can split checks.

Where does credit card information reside?

It’s all encrypted. It does not reside on the phone. The safety is very sound. If you should lose your phone, nobody could get in there and pull out your credit card information. I think people have a concern because it’s new technology, and it’s not just with My Friday’s Tab. … It’s new technology; there is that latent concern. Once you actually do it and you see how easy, simple and safe it is, consumers will be using it more and more.

Is there a type of consumer that is adapting to the technology more readily than others?

I’m a Boomer. I’m a little slower at adapting to technology versus our Millennial guests. I don’t have specific demographic data, but our belief and observations have been that Millennials are taking care of this faster than other folks.

What is the business case for offering an amenity like this?

It’s about consumer engagement. Consumers are demanding that brands they are involved with today give them more engagement and keep them involved with the brand more. The business case is taking care of current needs and taking care of the future needs and wants with our guests. Millennials are one of our big focus areas, and we want to make sure our brand is interacting with them the way they want to be interacted with.

Where is mobile headed in general?

This is not only where Friday’s is going but where the world is going in using the mobile phone as a payment device. Mostly, people are just excited about having options and having more control. We didn’t want to put a device on the table for payments, because we believe — and we have consumer research to show this — that the experience is so great that we don’t want to have a little terminal on the table to divert you from the energy that’s going on in the restaurant. … Using the mobile device gives the consumers flexibility and choice and they can use it as they see fit in their experience.

Are there any concerns with the app?

It’s like having a party, and you wonder if anybody will come. Many are using it. This is just the start. We have a list of releases for the rest of year. Our next step is to integrate the “Give Me More Stripes” [Friday’s loyalty program] more thoroughly and robustly. … We want the Friday’s app to be a useful tool for consumers. In very short order, you will have the same experience on the app as in the online experience.

What was the biggest hurdle in developing the app?

We were privileged to get to work with a number of partners that worked really well together. That’s always the biggest concern: Can you get different pieces of technology to work together? These things aren’t like puzzle pieces that were designed to fit together. You have to choose partners that are willing to work with you to make all these pieces work seamlessly together.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless