What’s worse than having your phone die at dinner? Literally nothing. How will you Instagram your meal? How will you call an Uber home? What if there’s an emergency and the babysitter can’t call? The whole night is ruined.
OK, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it sure feels that way sometimes, and iQi Charge notes that 92 percent of the public would panic if their phone died on them. It’s not uncommon for diners to ask the restaurant if there’s a place to charge their phone. In fact, the ability to charge customers’ phones has come to be expected – even demanded.
Meanwhile, servers were getting really sick of customers asking them to go find an outlet where they could plug in their phone, and even when restaurants were able to accommodate such demands, it took time away from the tasks servers are supposed to carry out. Plus, it meant that customers had to give up their phones for as long as it took to charge them.
That’s why iQi invented the GIZGO Mini POD, a charging device that sits on restaurant tables and can charge up to four phones at once. But the real genius of the Mini POD isn’t that it charges phones. It’s that it pulls double duty for restaurants, increasing dwell time and therefore sales.
The Mini POD base provides natural real estate for highlighting specials desserts, and happy hour in the same footprint that would be occupied by one of those old-school folded cardstock triangles.
Of course, there are some restaurants where charging a phone at the table might be considered vulgar. Luxury hotels and restaurants, for instance, may not want plugs and cables cluttering their tables.
“It’s not for everyone, and not everyone wants to encourage phone charging at the table – that’s OK too,” said Seth Nuland, a spokesman for GIZGO.
But from those who have taken a chance on the Mini POD, GIZGO has heard only good things. One restaurant that’s implemented it has seen sales growth as people who wouldn’t normally order dessert ended up ordering something displayed on the Mini POD while waiting for their batteries to be ready.
Nuland noted that heavy-duty phone usage has outpaced advances in battery technology over the last two or three years. Apps for social networking, photo sharing, GPS and video (like Skype) drain power faster than anything that came before them.
“The trend is that customers are reliant on restaurants charging their phones,” Nuland said. “We have taken the solution one step further and developed ways in which the customer can keep their phones with them.”
For Nuland and the folks behind the GIZGO Mini POD, showing customers that their smartphone needs are important to management can be powerful PR for any restaurant. The same is true in hotels, where GIZGO chargers find homes on nightstands and in other areas around the room. Airport lounges, bars, meeting rooms and receptions are all places and situations where people may want and need to charge their phones yet lack the power source to do so.
“We all depend on our smartphones, so whether you are running on empty or simply need a top up, our solutions are designed to give all users peace of mind,” said Nuland. “Like WiFi, any restaurant that can offer sought-after services will stand out from their competitors.”
The specs: With four USB ports and a 13,000-milli-Ampere hour) battery, the Mini POD can easily last all day, since most customers are just looking for a 20- to 30-minute top-up. It has the capacity to charge as many as five iPhones from nothing. Then, just charge it overnight, rinse and repeat.
Nuland said the company is working on developing new tech in the restaurant sector, including WiFi-enabled solutions and a server call button.