Walk into a bar on a Friday evening and I guarantee you’ll see this scene: dozens of people standing at the bar, cash in hand, trying to wave down a busy bartender to grab a beer. I’d bet that every single one of those frustrated bar patrons has one thing in common...well, maybe two. Other than wanting their drink, they’ve also likely got a smartphone in their pockets. And some restaurants are starting to use that smartphone to speed up the ordering process, and make the experience a little more fun. Enter: TGI Fridays’ virtual bartender. Here’s how it works:Meet Flanagan
Guests can access the TGIF app from a tablet or smartphone, take a short quiz on what their preferences are, and a fun, custom drink comes right up. The drinks are more adventurous than your typical beer or old fashioned, with fun names like “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Wake and Blake”. Friday’s virtual bartender is named “Flanagan”–cheekily coined after Tom Cruise’s character in the 80’s movie, Cocktail. And you can ask Flanagan via the mobile app to get you another drink, right from your phone. There are still bartenders making your drinks, but the fun and customizable nature of the mobile app lets you play around with new tastes and go beyond your typical libation. Plus, it can make the process of ordering at a busy restaurant more seamless and more of an experience within itself. The Virtual Bartender Paid Off
These innovative approaches that restaurants, bars, and hotels are making on mobile are starting to provide not only buzz-worthy customer experiences, but also some concrete results. The “Flanagan” experiment was designed to have a unique voice that matched TGI Friday’s brand and in the struggling dining sector, it made all the difference for their patrons. TGI Friday’s was able to double their off-premise sales in combination with a revamped menu and catering options, bringing their revenue up to the $150 billion mark. Other Brands Catching On
Facebook and vodka brand, Tito’s, tried a similar approach but brought the virtual bar to your home. The Facebook chatbot called, “Barkeep”, asks the user a few questions and pairs with online recipe database, Allrecipes, to bring up a recipe that you can shake up at home. These mobile moments are not only reaching consumers that might not have tried using Tito’s brand vodka before, but also producing an engagement opportunity for brands that is directly personalized to the user. Mobile is a powerful tool that you can use to connect with your consumers in new and fun ways. Check out our infographic on how important it is to touch base with your consumers on mobile and how you can take what TGI Friday’s and Tito’s are doing and use it as fuel for your own initiatives into mobile.