Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eating and drinking and apps, oh my!!

Hey there,

This is a post about three apps I've come across, have downloaded, and will try to start using more, apps related to eating and drinking. And it all started with a crepe.

I was at a crepes place on U Street, DC Scoop Shop, to be specific, after a late night of dancing at U Street Music Hall and an even later meal at Busboys & Poets. Yet my hunger wasn't satiated for when I saw the scoop shop, I knew exactly want I wanted. A crepe...with banana...and Nutella.

So I go inside and order it, and as I'm waiting I see signage at the register for LevelUp. Honestly, I had almost forgotten about this, but their branding's memorable enough that it didn't take long to jog my memory that I had already signed up and downloaded the app.

What does the app do, you are probably asking? It allows you to pay with your phone (you can find out  more about how it works on their website). Yes, you're still using a card which you've sync'ed to your account, but it's pretty cool, right? Kind of kidding. There is something appealing to not needing to pull out my credit or debit card yet again, when I've probably already got my phone in hand. The neat thing is, not only does it allow you to pay with your phone, but they even give you a few bucks to spend when trying out a new place.

Whoa...there's a Funnel Cake place near me...

Anyway, so I need to remember to start checking this out more. I already have a habit of checking in on Foursquare, Yelp, Google Latitude, and sometimes Facebook, usually I do this only when I'm by myself, or with an apology to and the permission of the company i'm with.

So why not pull out an app that's actually functional?

Now the next one isn't necessarily functional. Belly is something like a cross between Foursquare and a frequent shopper's card. It basically outsources the infrastructure of a rewards program for places...yeah, I think that would be a good description. That being said, I think it provides a distinct challenge to Foursquare simply on the rewards aspect.

It's not social, which is a bonus for people that don't want to share where they are with their friends or anyone else that is on a particular social media platform. It's tangible. There's a card that comes with it (which, you can still redeem rewards without, just use the app, but there's familiarity with what the card means and does, in terms of being similar to other customer cards. It's just communal, shared by all the establishments that opt-in to the program.

And you get points!! So all the bonus of the rush we humans are programmed to get whenever our actions result in an increased quantity of something, but (again) without the worry of making one's self stalkable for individuals that have those concerns, which I completely respect and understand.

Also, because the Belly check-in station is so prominent, there are less chances of employees wondering what the heck you're talking about when you mention the reward, than with some of the blank stares I've gotten when trying to claim Foursquare deals for checking-in.

Last, but not least, is Tabbedout. While good for dining, I first noticed signage for this at Nellie's...after I'd already started a tab...

 Similar to Level Up, you simply enter your credit card info and then you don't have to worry about opening or closing a tab at a bar (crucial) or even splitting a check at a restaurant (wish I'd known about this much sooner!!):
"Join a tab or share your own to make splitting the check simple – no server required."
I actually can't wait to try that.

Seems fairly simple.

And all these apps will let you know what participating establishments are in your immediate vicinity.

Now, I write all this knowing that I am not breaking news, these apps have been around for a while, and I am not the first person to ever use them.

So I think I've started figuring out one of my New Year's resolutions. Taking advantage of exploring apps like this to make my life, not just simpler, but a little more secure.

If it gets to the point where I don't even have to carry my credit card with me except for when I really need it, then less of a chance I have to lose it.

Anyway, have you used any of these apps/services as the customer? The business owner? What do you think, or is the verdict still out for now, as use still approaches critical mass?

Not hear of any of these until now? Well, do you think you'll try 'em out? One over the others?

Curious mind wants to know,

- JR
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