Running a large event, need ability for people to order food/drink?
January 13, 2015 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm part of a committee organizing a fairly large event. I'm looking for an app, or online provider that would allow people to go to a web page on their phones to order drinks/food and have that order sent to a central computer (at the bar for this event) and then wait staff would then take the food/drink to their suite. I've looked at placing a tablet and square reader in each "suite", however there are some security risks with that. The other option is to create a web page that sends the orders to a wireless printer (located in the bar), and then the wait staff would collect the funds when the food/drink is delivered. I was hoping someone knew of a service that would accomplish this easily. I know there are several tablet based POS systems (used in sushi restaurants, for example), but this event is only a few days long and it does not make sense to invest in thousands of dollars of equipment. Thanks for your help!
posted by jazzman to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you elaborate more on the actual physical setup? 'Suites' and 'bar' suggest some sort of hotel, in which case why add a layer on top?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2015

Response by poster: That's a great question - I should have clarified. We're renting a facility (arena) that does not have any ordering system or POS system in place. We're setting up temporary suites, and a temporary bar for the event.
posted by jazzman at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2015

Agree, what exactly is the set up and infrastructure of the venue? Are you creating the venue from scratch, including setting up/staffing/outfitting the bar and hiring the waiters or are you using a caterer / and or existing bar? You mention suites - are you doing this in a hotel? How many attendees are you planning to have?

If you are renting the bar equipment/furniture/tableware etc and hiring the waiters through an agency, see if the supplier of the bar equipment etc can offer the ordering system, or if the agency providing the waiters/bar staff can help point you in the right direction.

If you are not creating this location from scratch but work with an exisitng bar, or hotel and use their staff, can they investigate this requirement for you?

I work in event management, and in my experience you can rent pretty much anything. I would discuss this with your suppliers asking them to recommend a source for an ordering system if they do not offer it.
posted by 15L06 at 1:22 PM on January 13, 2015

Ah, thank you for the clarification. I did not see it before I posted.

A quick google for "renting tablet POS system event" yielded several companies offering them forrent, they all seem to be meeting suppliers, so if you already are renting other technical equipment or sound equipment, ask them.
One is this one here
I do not know them as I do not work in the US, but I assume you already have your suppliers, and I found if suppliers do not have what I need they often are either able to rent the stuff on my behalf (for a surcharge) or point me in the right direction.
posted by 15L06 at 1:39 PM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Please please don't try some roll your own solution where people have to download an app, or go to a web page. It'll either be pretty expensive(and you'll have to buy it, not rent it) or junk. Adding to that fact is that a lot of event spaces are black holes for cell signal from certain providers. And if you have wifi, maybe some people will have trouble getting on it and...

You do either want people cycling around to take orders, or something along the lines of ipads/ipod touches/etc on every table.

I absolutely second the idea of renting a system, like 15L06 suggested. Consult with someone who actually regularly sets this kind of thing up so that it will work and everyone will actually be able to use it smoothly.

My job involves fixing this kind of stuff. The DIY solutions do not really scale above like, one or two registers in some twee ice cream shop or a farmers market booth or something.
posted by emptythought at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Could you use Square? It works on phones and tablets. You can scan credit cards and place orders. If the event is all-inclusive, maybe you can set the price of everything to zero. It includes a point-of-sale app and inventory apps. I don't know what the setup process is like, but a lot of businesses where I live use Square, from chains to small shops. It's apparently free to set up and use, and Square gets 2.75% per credit card swipe of the transaction. They offer a few products but I think the one you'd want would be the Register App paired with the card reader for phones. (The Square Stand for tablets costs $99 but the card reader for phones and the apps are free.)
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:59 PM on January 13, 2015

I second looking into Square. The business I work at uses it, and from what I understand they've just rolled out a new version of their app that you can request or send money from. Their support people have always been great with us, so maybe give them a call and ask. My only worry is that it's short term, and they may not service that sort of thing.
posted by BeeJiddy at 9:49 PM on January 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everyone! We did look into square, the only issue was that by leaving a terminal (tablet) in each suite, people would be able to look at our sales (if they were saavy enough).

Another forum suggested using a form based site (formstack for instance) and having the orders go to a wireless printer. We're going to give that a test run today and see if it works. The worst part is, this wasn't even my job on the commitee! Again, my sincerest thanks!
posted by jazzman at 9:08 AM on January 14, 2015

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