Impact of mobile phones at the restaurant table


Impact of mobile phones at the restaurant table

mobile phone

We’ve explored how technology can enhance the dining experience but is there a possibility it can negatively impact the dining experience? Research suggests yes, and it’s more so than you might think.

According to a study from the University of British Columbia, simply the presence of a mobile phone at the table negatively impacts the guest experience, providing temptation for the guest. Looking at your phone is also contagious, if someone picks up their phone, other diners were more likely to.

We asked our panel of mystery guests if using phones at the table when eating out, makes or ruins their experience. 14% said it makes it and 86% said it ruins it. Traditionally meal times have created an opportunity for conversation, but today’s phone addiction indicates that we are rapidly losing human connection.

So, what can restaurants do about it? You might think you’re doing your bit when it comes to the guest experience and that what guests choose to do with their phone is out of your control and not that important. But even if your food, service and atmosphere are great, if guests are feeling disconnected from their dining partner, they will be less inclined to stick around and order a dessert or coffee, and more inclined to settle the bill and leave.

Some restaurants have banned phones from their venues. One being popular chain Frankie and Benny’s who asked parents to leave their phones in their bag when dining with children, after a survey revealed that 75% of children felt their parents preferred looking at their phone instead of interacting with them. Although set as a trial period, the chain came under fire from parents who use phones to entertain their children whilst trying to eat in peace.

So, is it a good idea or not? Will you put guests off who want to leave have access to their phone? How about offering guests who leave their phones in their bag for the duration of their meal a free soft drink? This kind gesture may encourage guests to spend more and will appreciate your mission.

To measure the guest experience you provide, get in touch with our team on 01225 470999 or email

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