Registration Lessons From The Melt Restaurant

September 6, 2011

in Ideas

Yesterday I visited the recently opened first fast-food joint from The Melt, founded by Flip camera creator Jonathan Kaplan (more on The Melt’s launch here and here). So what has a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant got to do with conferences?

Quite a lot actually, at least this particular one. Kaplan has created an interesting way to handle the order-queue-delivery workflow.

It’s not fully implemented yet (the store is just a few days old) but it will ideally work like this:

  1. Select your sandwich and/or soup combo using the mobile App (or at the register). The app will generate a bar code/QR code identifying your order
  2. When you’re at the store, scan the code on a scanner located at the counter (you could have paid for the order online or you can do it when you get there)
  3. The kitchen gets an alert that you’re ready to eat and the details of your order.
  4. A few minutes later your grilled cheese sandwich is ready and they call out your initials for you to pick-up the tray

Sounds familiar? It’s actually very similar to the registration process at a conference.

The flow at a conference would be more or less as follows:

  1. You buy your ticket online and you get a receipt with a QR code that you can print and bring to the venue or (ideally) display on your smartphone
  2. When you arrive at the venue you stand up in line and you scan your code, indicating that you’re ready to pick up your badge. The badge is sent to the printer (usually just the label with your name/company which will be applied onto the badge)
  3. If there are several registration counters, a screen at the entrance of the queue indicates to which one you should proceed to pick up your badge
  4. When you get in front of the registration assistant, you say your name (and show some kind of identification) and she provides your badge

Advantages of this process:

  • Badges are produced just in time, so that the registration assistants don’t have to navigate through hundreds (thousands) of printed badges
  • You don’t need to have registration counters divided alphabetically by surname, which usually makes the flow worse (you can predict how many people will go to each counter but not when, thus often producing idle times in some counters while others are too crowded)
  • Having a unique queue that leads to several counters makes traffic distribution easier (and the whole process faster)

PS: The Melt Experience

The experience was good, in the end it’s just a grilled cheese sandwich! The restaurant is rather small and the registration process I described above is not fully implemented yet (you order and pay at the cashier, she produces the ticket with the code and scans it for you. When your order is ready they call out your name). It’s a nice detail that under each table you have a couple of power sockets where you can plug in your laptop, which makes it geek (or worker) friendly. From what I read, the technology used to cook the sandwiches is rather innovative and has been developed by Kaplan and his team. It allows to make the “perfect grilled cheese” sandwich in just 60 seconds. I ordered a soup-sandwich combo which was about 10 USD final price.


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