Enjoying a meal as you surf the net or work from your laptop or smartphone at your favourite restaurant has been made easier by a new partnership between Eat Out, Wazi-WiFi and Google.
The deal allows restaurant and shopping mall patrons to access high-speed Wi-Fi on their phones, tablets or laptops as players in the hospitality industry move to enhance their customer experience. For starters, the service will be available in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Restaurants will now give their customers this service, provided by Wazi, at no connectivity cost, all they have to invest in is a router.
“All restaurants should be offering Wi-Fi to their clients. In the long term this will mean we can explore integration with point of sale (POS) systems and real-time online booking at restaurants,” said Mikul Shah, Eat Out’s founder.
Joe Mucheru, Google’s country manager, said the initiative gives customers the freedom to continue with their digital life even in restaurants.
Wazi, is a collaboration between Google, Wananchi Group and other local businesses, and offers Wi-Fi services at a fee to the end user.
The first 10 minutes are free. Thereafter, patrons can make an hourly purchase or take a full day or monthly subscription. It costs Sh50 for a day and Sh500 for a monthly subscription for each device.
Payments do not involve the restaurant. One can pay for the service online using mobile money, credit or debit cards.
Wazi already has over 200 hotspots in Nairobi including Junction Mall, Adams Arcade, Capital Centre and Nyali Cinemax in Mombasa. The partnership is expected to help it increase its hotspots. The partnership will see Eat Out also earn a revenue share of the subscription fees paid by clients.
Mr Shah said the company does not expect this to take off until a sizeable number of venues have signed up.
In July, Eat Out sold a 25 per cent stake to Dutch venture capitalist Africa Media Ventures Fund to raise expansion capital and bring on board expertise to help move to other countries in the region and launch new products.
By partnering with Google, restaurants will use its services, including Google+, to enhance business awareness and to interact with patron’s on the web using social platforms such as Google+ Hangout which enables one to generate connections with potential clients. It allows partrons to broadcast live digital feeds, including the restaurant experience.
The smart phone is becoming an invaluable resource for shopping after the launch of mobile cash. According to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the total deposits handled on mobile money during the third quarter for the financial year 2011/2012 increased by 4.8 per cent to Sh185.4 billion. During this period, Internet subscription increased by 5.5 per cent, to 6.49 million, compared to the previous quarter.
CCK attributes increased access to mobile phones and attractive promotional offers from operations as well as the popularity of social media towards growth in the Internet use.
Malls such as Junction and Capital Centre have already connected with Wazi.
With the mobile phone becoming a major shopping accessory as Kenyans use it to access the Internet to find out the location of a store, what is good and what restaurant to enjoy by logging onto social media and also to pay for selected products providing WiFi services is a step to enhancing a customer’s experience.
A research by InMobi, released in July 2012, showed mobile phones are increasingly influencing shopping and eat out behaviour in Kenya.
The research by the independent mobile advertising network found at least 65, of the 503 people across the country surveyed, use their phones when making a decision to buy groceries at supermarkets.
Thirty four per cent of consumers enhance their shopping experience in malls using their phones.
Shopping trends have been changing globally with more people going online to interact with a product, get recommendations or see what their friends have to say.
The partnership between Google, Eat Out and Wazi is expected to enhance this experience.