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35. IdeaSpark*: Restaurant Pager Alternative November 13, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in IdeaSpark*, Product, Service.

Busy restaurants typically give waiting patrons a pager (as in the picture), which will buzz when their table is ready. Busy restaurants also tend to be in heavily trafficked neighborhoods (e.g. mall, shopping district), but the pager range can be limited, so the patrons cannot wander far.

This IdeaSpark* is essentially using your cellphone as your pager. Patrons can opt to give their cellphone number when requesting a table, then leave the area to wander. The patron will get a call when they are next on the list for a table, giving them time to return.

Read on for more, including Options, Considerations, and Background of this IdeaSpark*.

Options: (1) Patrons can hit a certain number, when getting their call, to send back relevant info (“Press 1 if it will take less than 5 minutes to return, Press 2 if you need about 10 minutes, Press 3 to cancel the reservation”). (2) Waiting patrons can call a certain phone number to get an update on the estimated time remaining for the table.

Considerations: Restaurants may have their reasons for keeping their waiting patrons on a tight leash: to get them buying drinks at the bar, or spending time in the gift shop, or keeping the joint looking popular.

Background of this IdeaSpark*: I was talking to my friend Ben tonight, who missed his haircut appointment (a chain store in a mall) because they didn’t see him hanging around outside their front door. This idea may have occurred to me prior, while being tethered, for example, to P.F. Chaing’s in the Tyson’s Corner Galleria Mall. The idea also seems so basic it may already exist somewhere.



1. Jason - December 12, 2007

This actually exists almost exactly as you describe it. Our company patented using cell phone paging in use with on premise paging systems back in 1999. For more info, you can learn more here: http://www.pager.net/Long-Range-Systems/cell-phone-paging.html

2. Arjuna Pinto - April 13, 2008

TNTech Canada carries similar product as well.
My ideaSpark 35 is: if you thought of something *new*, chances are 10 other people are thinking about the same idea at the same time 🙂

3. Anonymous - April 13, 2009

The idea would be great if you could rely on SMS service. SMS is not a real time technology and no doubt everybody has experienced receiving texts several hours and even days after they were sent. I once received a text 4 days after it was sent and I was in the same area the whole time with my cellphone on. Nothing beats a real time paging system. (www.wipath.com)

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