Burger King Trials Reservation App for Post-COVID Dining

The app will allow customers to order food book tables ahead of time to better enable physical distancing.

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Need to Know

  • The app aims to help the fast-food chain attract customers post-COVID lockdown.
  • Customers can order food, pay, and book a table from home.
  • Almost all of Burger King’s 220 restaurant locations in Italy have been closed since early March.
  • App will roll out at three locations in Milan on June 1.

Analysis

Burger King is planning to demo a reservation app in Italy, one of the countries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to make customers feel safe visiting restaurants as lockdown restrictions lift.

“We need to be good at showing people that it’s safe to come to a place which is perceived as being crowded,” said Andrea Valota, Burger King’s Italian head, in an interview, adding that the chain plans to give consumers “options so they understand there is a safe way to come in.”

The app will allow customers to order and pay for food and book a table before heading into a restaurant to eat. Around a third of restaurant tables will be reserved for app use during peak hours, which are between 12-2 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The app will be tested in three of Burger King’s Milan locations on June 1 and could be used in other countries if it proves successful in Italy.

Most of Burger King’s 220 Italian locations have been closed since the country imposed lockdown restrictions in early March, but many have since opened for delivery and take-out service. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, around 70% of Burger King’s revenues came from dine-in customers; Valota says, with the help of the app, the goal is to bring this number back up to 50%.

Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, has been working to update its customer experience since earlier this year, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. In February, it announced that half of its U.S. properties would soon see updated, digital menu boards at drive-thrus, and revealed at that time that it would soon be introducing mobile and online ordering, as part of its Burger King of Tomorrow initiative (which also includes self-serve kiosks).

The move towards more nimble digital communication between fast-food restaurants and their consumers is part of an emerging trend, post-COVID, wherein consumers have reported they are more likely to return to a quick-service restaurant if they are able to communicate with that restaurant in a digital capacity. According to a survey conducted last month by digital consultancy firm Bottle Rocket, 80% of consumers were more likely to visit a restaurant that offered incentives or rewards for online ordering.

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