As restaurants around the country return to business following months of coronavirus shutdowns, the health and safety of staff and patrons is the top priority.
Amid reopenings, there are many unknowns when going to a restaurant or eatery post COVID. Are they open? Have the hours changed? What are the new rules? Do you need a reservation?
To help simplify things and keep an open line of communication, many restaurants have begun using reservation apps to send important information to diners.
Resy, an app for restaurant reservations, has been working to roll out new tools that will give restaurants additional options amid the pandemic including mobile waitlist, capacity monitor, and Resy At Home.
The mobile waitlist aims to limit crowding at a restaurant by allowing guests to add themselves to a waitlist if they are in the area. Capacity monitor allows restaurants to keep track of how many people are dining in and ensures the restaurant follows state-mandated occupancy regulations. Once at capacity, the online reservation system will close.
For those who don’t feel safe venturing out just yet or would rather take their meal to-go, Resy At Home allows customers to order takeout meals directly from the app.
Today notes that while Resy is working on a pre-reservation survey/questionnaire to screen customers for COVID, the tool has “not launched” yet.
Tock, however, is expanding its previously customizable pre-dining questionnaires for dietary restrictions, allergies, and special occasions, to include questions about the coronavirus that can be sent whenever someone makes a reservation.
The app is working with local and state governments to create a "library of coronavirus related questions that restaurants can pose to would-be customers," reports TODAY.
"Questionnaires enable restaurants to ask for information ahead of a diner's experience to provide better hospitality ... as well as, in the current environment, to address any COVID-19-related requirements," Kyle Welter, Tock's director of marketing, told TODAY.
Questions would include asking for contact information for everyone in a dining party in case of exposure.
In the meantime, Resy will allow restaurants to “communicate with guests about health and safety protocols" to see how they can improve the experience.
OpenTable is also offering post-dining surveys to gauge feedback.
"The restaurants want to be the most hospitable to the diner," Joseph Essas, OpenTable's chief technology officer, told TODAY. "And the diner is looking for all the information to get excited about going out, but also information to know that they are going to be safe and everything is healthy. So, for us, it's kind of an intersection of these two."
OpenTable also has tools that inform diners of protocols and precautions, virtual waitlists, mobile table alerts, and even a feature that shows diners where they will be seated in a restaurant.