by Erik Van Pelt, Rachel Hale–
Virginia Tech recently launched a new mobile food ordering application. Students now have the ability to order food from specific shops in Turner Place dining hall using their smartphones. Dining Services at Virginia Tech have partnered with Tapingo, a smartphone app designed to offer mobile payment at college style dining halls.
The innovative new systems have been adopted at Turner Place as a small-scale launch for the service, which will have widespread availability on the majority of on-campus dining halls in Fall of 2017.
Launching the app early allows both Dining Services and students a grace period to become familiar with the process and ensure that it will run smoothly in the future.
“There was definitely a learning curve when we first started using it,” said Olivia Jansce, an employee at Bruegger’s Bagels. Jansce was part of the first group of employees who had to learn the process of using a phone application for payment rather than a card. She explained they had to learn not only the technicalities of using the app but also the demands of it in terms of labor.
Employees have to service their in-store customers while also keeping up with orders coming in digitally. This process involves adapting new methods of prioritization and efficiency, for employees.
The purpose of the new program is to streamline dining services, offering patrons the same high-quality product with a much shorter waiting time.
“I’ve used it a few times to order from Bruegger’s and it’s saved me a lot of time,” said Virginia Tech senior Josh Wallis.
Students at Virginia Tech frequent the dining halls in large crowds during the time windows in between classes. These rushes can overwhelm dining facilities causing backups and delays; the institution of mobile ordering is aimed at mitigating these backups and providing a more convenient experience for diners.
The introduction of the app is not designed to generate a larger customer base, just a more efficient experience for current customers.
According to the Princeton Review, an independent college ranking service, Virginia Tech ranks fourth in the nation for best dining services. The ranking system is based on comprehensive criteria that include things like quality of food, service, range of choice and health standards.
Virginia Tech is ahead of the curve with the introduction of the app. Only a handful of other schools afford the same luxury to their students.
Students at Virginia Tech can download the app online or in any major smartphone app store. Dining Services expects a seamless transition in the Fall when the service goes full-scale, and hope to continue their high standards of service to students.