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National Restaurant Association - Mopro, mobile technology highlight NRA Show technology pavilion

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Mopro, mobile technology highlight NRA Show technology pavilion

A steady stream of restaurateurs visited the Mopro booth in the NRA Show Technology Pavilion to take advantage of free assessments of their restaurant’s digital presence.  Mopro, which offers a range of services to help restaurants improve and increase their online presence, offered the assessment to kick off its partnership with the National Restaurant Association.

NRA announced the partnership  just prior to the NRA Show. The partnership gives NRA members access to 11 digital products in one bundle at a deep discount.

Elsewhere in the Technology Pavilion, exhibitors reported an increased interest in digital and mobile technology for restaurants. Sam Winter, vice president of technology for HubWorks, said restaurant operators have become more open to technology over the past few years.

“They used to be hesitant, trying to understand where the market was going,” Winter said. “In a few short years, the tide has turned. It’s now about finding how technology fits into their operations.”

HubWorks, which provides tablet-based menu and ordering systems for restaurants, was one of several mobile ordering apps and systems at the Show. Another, the United Kingdom-based QikServe, showed a smartphone-based, self-service ordering app that the Hyatt MX bar in Chicago deployed during the Show after an onsite meeting with QikServe representatives.

About 18 people used the app to order drinks, said QikServe Business Development Manager Nicola King. “It’s there to support the wait staff. With QikServe, there’s more time for them to take the orders, and they should be getting more tips. It’s a positive support system.”

Mobile technology also has opened the doors to several payment methods beyond cash, credit and debit cards. Boston-based Merchant Warehouse exhibited the Genius customer engagement platform, which offers restaurants a single point of service for accepting cash, credit and debit cards in addition to mobile payments.

While mobile technology has the potential to be incorporated into several areas of a restaurant’s operations, it has become a nearly inseparable part of customers’ day-to-day lives. Mark Provo and Thomas Nilsen, co-founders of Memphis-based 8G Electronics, discussed one day during lunch how convenient it would be to charge smartphones at the table. The conversation led them to develop a few products to do that, including a menu holder with a smartphone charging port.

“It could be a menu holder, or it could be a simple charging device that sits on a table or bar,” Nilsen said. “We wanted something that was easy for the consumer to use and for the restaurant owner to use.”

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