Managers at Frankfurt’s upscale restaurants pride themselves on knowing the names of most of their regular customers.
Soon, they’ll know the diner’s favorite table, exactly how long they spend in the restaurant, what dish they order most–and they’ll even know when their guest is in the bathroom.
Restaurateur Christian Mook, owner of 5 high-end restaurants known as the Mook Group, is testing an application using Apple ’s iBeacon technology, which tracks customers in his restaurants.
If it works in one of the restaurants, Mook will roll it out to the other four.
The app clocks the time guests spend in the restaurant and uses a ranking system to reward them for their loyalty. Mook says it later hopes to track indoor location, items ordered and the amount customers pay— all with an eye toward offering new services and improving existing ones.
The app’s iBeacon component, which was rolled out by Apple last year, uses low energy Bluetooth technology to pinpoint a user’s indoor location to within 5 to 10 inches. The tracking works through beacon pods, installed on site, which interact with the user’s device as soon as the client is in range of the restaurant. For the app to work, users have to download it, but don’t need to activate it to allow tracking to begin.
As of now, all of the information generated by the app is saved on the individual’s device, but the Mook group says it hopes to do more with client information down the line.
“At the moment the app doesn’t do all that much to support our business,” said Feres Ladjimi, executive manager at the Mook Group.
Mook diners, who on average shell out between €20 euros and €30 ($26-$40) for a main course, can use the app to climb their way from “Guest” ranking to “Addicted Connoisseur” level based on the amount of time spent at any one of group’s venues. Guests with higher-level app statuses are rewarded with a free welcome drink, automatic placement on the guest list for future events or even fast-track entrance.
“It will be even more interesting when we get to the next step and we know guest’s names, what people drink and eat, how often and when the client comes in – whether for private reasons or business reasons, all as a way to improve service,” Mr. Ladjimi said, adding that any access to information would be on a voluntary basis and with the client’s authorization.
Germany is an unlikely home for an app using iBeacon technology, as the location-tracking features could unsettle citizens in a country historically sensitive about privacy, and angry with recent allegations of NSA snooping.
“We are still trying to figure out where are the boundaries for our target group between privacy and intimacy,” said Joel Martinez, chief technology officer at Candylabs, the company that produced the app for Mook.