The event industry suffered a major hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, and is only now starting to rebound. As most industry professionals know, however, events aren’t coming back the same way as before. To operate under coronavirus restrictions that are still in place and to make event attendees feel at ease, event organisers must adapt to new technologies that keep everyone safe.
One such technology is mobile ordering apps. These platforms allow customers to browse a menu of products, make a contactless payment, and track their order all from their smartphone. Queuing is practically eliminated, as is coming into contact with servers or passing around menus touched by scores of other people. Arranging food and beverage service at an event is already a logistical hurdle, as is ticketing and admission. Mobile ordering and ticketing apps make organisation easier and provide a better overall customer experience.
Contactless ordering solutions are up and coming and events that don’t utilise them will fall behind. If you’re considering a mobile ordering solution for your next event or festival, we’ve got a list of five of the best mobile ordering apps available in the UK right now.
The Best Mobile Ordering Apps in the UK for Hosting Events
If you search for mobile ordering apps, most of the results you’ll see are solutions for bars, pubs, and restaurants. While these platforms can be adapted to events and festivals that serve food and drinks, they’re explicitly designed for it. NOQ, on the other hand, was built with events and venues in mind, allowing organisers to create custom menus and manage orders. The app also provides real-time reporting so that vendors can see which items are selling the most, and at peak times.
NOQ’s interface is compatible with any large events and provides an app-less ordering experience. Customers don’t have to download an app to see the menu, they simply scan a QR code. The app provides several ordering models, releases vendor payment within 24 hours, and doesn’t require subscription fees.
Onvi, formerly known as Wi5, is a full ordering platform. It helps facilitate purchases and integrates seamlessly with your existing staff members. Onvi has extensive ordering models, including table, pickup, delivery, order to room, curbside, and more. The flexibility makes it ideal for events of any size. The back-office software that comes with the Onvi app lets event organisers create custom menus and run an order management system.
Onvi doesn’t require subscription or set-up fees to use. It has fully customisable options, including using a range of ordering models and adding extra features like tipping, vouchers, and promotions. Onvi helps move the ordering process along, freeing up your staff’s time and improving the event experience.
The founders of the Butlr app spent way too much of their lives queueing. Butlr is aimed directly at eliminating queues at bars, music venues, theatres, and clubs; anywhere there’s a queue, you can use this app. Butlr’s easy-to-use interface makes it easy for staff to learn and integrate into existing systems. The app also comes with the equipment you need to facilitate mobile orders, including a tablet, printer, and stickers.
Butler has both app and app-less solutions, so you can choose to either have your customers download the Butlr app or scan a QR code for a link to a custom web application. There’s also a theatre mode that’s designed specifically for shows and concerts.
Yoello offers a white-label solution for mobile ordering, allowing vendors to put their own branding on the app. It works with table orders, click & collect, and delivery options. Yoello’s biggest perk is its emphasis on security – the app is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and operates under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. You can be sure transactions made with Yoello are protected.
Yoello also provides customer analytics, so you can get deeper insights on who’s ordering what. The app can provide the same menu in multiple languages as well, a big plus for international events. Another interesting feature for event organisers is the ability to group venue profiles for multiple vendors within one venue. So you can put all the food trucks at your music festival together under the same app.
Flipdish offers a wide variety of online ordering options. Their white-label service offers a custom app, website, table ordering solution, kiosk, or delivery system. You can even let customers order via Google and Instagram using Flipdish.
Flipdish is more than an online ordering app, however. It can also help with managed marketing campaigns and provides a wealth of customer data to help you improve your offerings. While Flipdish was designed with restaurants in mind, its array of ordering solutions can work well for events and venues, including their customer analytics.
White Label Ordering Solutions vs. Downloadable Apps
Mobile ordering apps typically rely on one of two models. The first is a white-label service and the second is a downloadable app. Each has benefits and downsides, and you’ll have to decide which service better suits your event’s needs.
White-label solutions for mobile ordering
On the above list, NOQ, Onvi, Yoello, and Flipdish all offer white-label mobile ordering solutions. You can use their services to build a custom web application that displays your menu with your branding. Customers access the web app menu by scanning a QR code with their smartphones. They can also pay with the smarthphone, using a contactless payment solution. White-label ordering services may also include a printer to print out a receipt for each order that staff members can fill. The advantage of a white-label app for customers is that they don’t have to download an app to order.
Butlr and NOQ have downloadable apps for mobile ordering. Customers can download the app on their smartphone and scan a code to access the event’s food and drink menu. Menus created on downloadable apps don’t differ much from white-label solutions, but apps let you upsell more by adding promotions. They’re also better for communicating with the customer directly as their order is being filled. Some event organisers may not prefer this approach because it asks customers to download an app on their phone, which can be a nuisance.
Why Does Your Event Need a Mobile Ordering App?
Mobile ordering apps have already transformed the business model of bars and restaurants, so why not events? Queuing for food or beverages at a music festival, event concession stands, or the theatre bar is one of the top reasons customers avoid purchasing food and drinks at events.
Contactless apps let customers order and pay from their seats, table, or tent, and simply retrieve their order once it’s ready. They can take their time to peruse the menu and staff members don’t feel rushed to move people through a long line. Apps help streamline the order process, making everything more organised.
Both customers and staff also feel safer because contact with each other is reduced greatly. Everyone can maintain a Covid-safe distance from each other.
There’s no denying that ordering apps make the ordering process more convenient, but they’re also good for sales too. People tend to order more when they use an app, and these contactless solutions may even help you increase cost per head.
Can a Mobile Ordering App Increase Costs Per Head?
Mobile ordering apps at events are still relatively new, so there’s not much data about why they increase sales. But companies that have used NOQ and Yoello, for instance, have seen a revenue boost. The reasons why might include the following:
- Customers take their time: When people don’t have a long line behind them or aren’t fighting to get a bartender’s attention, they can take more time to choose. No pressure to select a menu item usually results in customers ordering more.
- Customers are more comfortable: Ordering in person creates anxiety for some people, especially since the coronavirus pandemic. When people are anxious, they don’t want to spend more money. Using an app on their own smartphone to order makes customers more at ease and lets them order more.
- Customers can request special orders: Special requests for coffee or a sandwich take extra time to communicate to a server, and discourage people from making these requests. An app lets people customise their order and add extras (extra cheese, extra bacon, etc.), which is the perfect opportunity for upselling.
- Customers spend more on contactless payments: When people hand over cash or a card to purchase something, there’s a physical sense of loss that discourages them from spending more. Contactless payments don’t generate this feeling, and so people are more willing to purchase extra or more expensive items.
The Events Industry Can Move Forward Post-Covid with Contactless Tech
Events may have started taking place again, but organisers have to follow strict public health and safety rules. One way to comply and put attendees’ minds at ease is to reduce person-to-person contact as much as possible. Mobile ordering helps with this significantly.
Contactless ordering was starting to gain traction before the coronavirus pandemic because they made ordering and filling orders easier and more convenient for customers and staff. With sophisticated order tracking and management systems, they also help vendors improve their offerings. But mobile ordering has become almost a requirement for the hospitality and event sectors. Adhering to government restrictions for Covid safety is much easier with contactless tech.
In addition to creating a safer environment, reducing queues, and increasing sales, mobile ordering apps contribute to a more positive customer experience. At a large conference, festival, or another event, getting food may not be the main attraction for the attendees and they may not want to spend a lot of time on it. Streamlining the process with mobile ordering and order tracking helps customers better enjoy the event.
Do Ordering Apps Have Any Downsides?
Mobile ordering apps have many benefits for event organisers, but do they have disadvantages? One downside event planners might run into is customer unfamiliarity with mobile ordering apps. Even though they’re taking hold at establishments and events across the UK, these apps still aren’t the norm just yet. Most mobile ordering apps are highly intuitive for both customers and staff filling orders, however, so the learning curve for those unfamiliar with the technology should be small.
Another consideration with ordering apps is the small percentage they take from each order. It’s usually less than 2%, but it’s still a cost to factor into your decision. The boost in sales you get from implementing a contactless ordering solution could help make up for the 2% though!
The Best Mobile Ordering Apps for Events in the UK
In the past year, mobile ordering apps have taken off – and they’re only getting started. The five apps we’ve included here all have numerous features that could make your event run more smoothly. Ordering apps will soon become an indispensable component of events.
Fiona is a consultant for Growth Division, a growth marketing agency helping startups to find scalable channels to market. With nearly a decade of marketing experience in Hospitality in London – previously Head of Marketing at Galvin Restaurants – she is passionate about Hospitality & Food tech startups.