Emerging ConceptsTechnology

Interview with Gabriella Littleton from Tablz

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gabriella Littleton, the partnerships lead at Tablz. This exciting startup is changing the face of restaurant and guest management, applying dynamic pricing in the only manner feasible for the restaurant industry—per-table charges based on time, day, and location. Let’s see what she had to say about this latest restaurant technology and how it’s changing the way restaurants manage their “table” inventory and their guests’ reservations. 

The Beginning

The CEO behind this fascinating technology is Frazer Nagy. Littleton reports, “Frazer is a multi-founder in the tech space, creating a previous company called Transparent Kitchen. This company, which Nagy sold in 2020, dealt with the providence of ingredients and farm-to-table restaurants. It was a very visual, photography-based, data-driven company, connecting chefs who source sustainably with diners making conscious food choices.

“From there, he started rethinking the restaurant industry as COVID-19 took its toll. He completed a regression analysis at a university in 2014, studying revenue management with all the external data for a restaurant. This included the restaurant’s profit margin given the weather, events taking place, and holidays—looking at external forces and how they affected the restaurant’s profit. 

“Nagy realized that no one does that for the restaurant industry. No one looks at how external events affect their business. For instance, on this day, there was a slight drizzle, and it was 45°F when historically it’s sunny and 65°F. This change in weather explained why there were these many cancellations at this restaurant at 7 p.m. So, he started thinking about creating a revenue management tool for restaurants that don’t just predict demand at a given restaurant, but could also make restaurants money by telling them the precise value of their seats at any given time.”

Tablz is Born 

Dynamic pricing is at the core of the success behind Tablz and how it helps restaurants develop another much-needed revenue stream. Littleton shared how every other fixed capacity industry in the world uses revenue management and dynamic pricing to improve the customer experience and increase profits. 

“Other experience-based industries successfully deploy both revenue management and dynamic pricing. For example, airlines charge different prices from the back of the plane to the economy and first class. Paying more for a better seat is an expected requirement in the airline industry. We also see this markup in other experience-based industries, like court-side seats at a basketball game or VIP tickets to Lollapalooza. With any of these experiences, there’s always been a function to upgrade.

When you think about it, the value of a table at 5 p.m. on Monday is significantly different than the value of sitting at that same table on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. And yet, restaurants don’t apply dynamic pricing. We can’t change the cost of the food items, so how do you capture the different values? If you can’t change prices, you can charge a fee for the table as real estate. Some want to sit in a booth, while others want to sit at a table. Some guests particularly like to sit at a round table. So, these consumer preferences are already built into where people prefer to sit in a restaurant. Now, you start incorporating the different times of day as well as the busiest days and find that this is the best way to apply revenue management in the restaurant industry.” 

3D Mapping Technology

If you look at the Tablz website, you’ll see incredible 3D videos of different restaurants. These give guests a complete and accurate view of dining areas, enabling them to pick out the table they prefer. According to Littleton, their cofounder applied his know-how in photography to help create a tool that brings dynamic pricing to restaurants in a visual manner. 

“They started 3D Scanning Dining Room technology to allow guests to pick the tables they wanted to sit at. Every week, partners all over America and Canada are 3D Scanning their dining rooms, and guests are paying for the table they want to sit at. These guests book their tables online and pay from $12-$100.

“Not only do tables monetize the most in-demand real estate in a restaurant, but it’s also a powerful guest management tool that creates an experience for customers who can visualize the dining room before they book their dinner. Guests often choose different tables for different occasions. For example, they may choose one table for a business dinner and a different one if they are getting engaged or going out with their elderly parents. They might be with someone who is in a wheelchair, so they can’t fit in a booth, or with young kids who need a high chair. There are so many reasons why people want to be able to pay to choose their exact table, and they’re not able to until now. 

“For the operator, it doesn’t disrupt service or require an extra tablet or website to utilize the Tablz booking system. The best part for restaurants is that the onboarding process only takes an hour of the operator’s time and the booking aspect works directly with all reservation management systems. Income derived from this approach is pure profit that comes from guests paying for the real estate that exists within the restaurant. Tablz is based on revenue share, which means there are no monthly or upfront fees.”

The Operator’s Experience with Tablz

I was curious about what an operator could expect from the onboarding process. Littleton shared this, “The restaurant is 3D scanned by an independent photographer. It takes about 60 minutes to shoot an entire restaurant, and all that we ask is that the restaurant is photo ready and empty. Then, we review the scan with the restaurant operator and pick out the tables they want to put on the platform, helping them determine the cost of the table based on the day, time, and location. Then, it’s embedded on their website, and they go live.” 

In the spring of 2022, Littleton spoke with EMERGING, and a partnership was born. We’re excited to be a part of this technology-driven company that is sure to change the guest experience.   

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