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Mobile food ordering extends reach of campus dining services

Andrew Hudson   ||   Sep 21, 2015  ||   , ,

Once a university is signed up for the GET platform, they automatically receive the ability to offer online ordering. Chaffee explains that this allows them test the concept anytime, rather than jump blindly into a full rollout.

The campus can fold in the online ordering app as an additional service. “If a campus can get their students acclimated to GET as their one-stop shop for all campus card needs, then adding online food ordering is just a natural extension,” says Chaffee.

Vandy serves late night diners via mobile

Today, Vanderbilt utilizes mobile ordering to support the existing off-campus dining program, but the initial goal was to expand dining options during the construction of new residence halls, explains Mark Brown, assistant director of business services at Vanderbilt University.

CBORD’s GET mobile ordering solution has also helped on weekends and late at night when dining options are more limited. “It has allowed Vanderbilt students to have a larger range of dining options after normal hours,” says Brown.

It also helps to navigate some challenges associated with the university’s ID card.

“Vanderbilt’s Commodore Card doesn’t have a student number printed on it so there was no identifier for students to give vendors over the phone when placing orders,” Brown explains. “Using the mobile app or desktop browser, GET allows users to log in using their university username and password through single sign-on. The order is then sent to the merchant via email or fax and charges the student’s card without needing identifying information.”

As with other universities, students that purchase a meal plan from Vanderbilt Campus Dining also receive a pool of “Meal Money” that can be used on- or off-campus. Students above freshman level also receive a Meal Money credit for any missed meals.

Another declining balance account can be used once Meal Money is depleted, says Brown. On-campus meal swipes cannot be used off campus, and credit and debit cards are not accepted through online ordering.

“In addition to the other plusses, mobile ordering benefits Vanderbilt Campus Dining through the commission earned on sales made off campus,” says Brown.

Tapping into the student experience

Rather than expanding an existing portal of service, Tapingo offers a standalone, dedicated mobile ordering app. The company has made significant inroads and now serves more than 100 college campuses across the U.S. and Canada.

“With students driving the demand for mobile everything, outside competitors to the campus dining program are moving in on the university ecosystem,” explains Almog. “We create opportunities for campus dining programs to enter new markets and optimize their performance.”

Based on the prevalence and flexibility of Tapingo, some campuses have asked that we extend our service to solve other concerns from concessions to fundraising and ticket sales to bookstore purchases, says Almog.

How Tapingo is utilized, however, is ultimately decided by the university’s specific focus. “Some campuses implement our technology to emphasize meal plan usage at on-campus venues, while others want our help targeting upperclassmen via their off-campus program,” says Almog.

Tapingo can accept payment types including meal equivalencies, declining balance, open loop debit and credit as well as split-tender transactions. “Tapingo is PCI Level 1 compliant, and is operating successfully on Blackboard, Heartland, ITC, Atrium and CBORD Gold and Odyssey campuses across North America,” says Almog.

Delivering the goods

As Tapingo’s presence on campuses has grown, so too have the service capabilities of the solution. The latest addition to the mobile ordering app is a new delivery service, aptly named “Tapingo Delivers.”

“We’d heard time and time again that campuses wanted to offer delivery. With Tapingo Delivers, campus dining programs can address the needs of upperclassmen living off campus, and increase convenience for students, faculty and staff on campus,” says Almog.

Tapingo handles staffing and logistics for delivery via a network of couriers it builds in the local community.

Tapingo Delivers intends to transform campus dining by facilitating on-demand delivery from on-campus venues to both on- and off-campus customers, says Almog. “This service solves a key problem by leveraging existing dining operations. It opens new markets for traditional university food programs – expanding the reach and accessibility of campus meal plans and dining services.”

Mobile ordering has delivered a huge uptick in sales for campus dining operations, increasing throughput during peak business hours, decreasing congestion and engage more students, says Almog. “Tapingo Delivers takes this same principle and increases the size of the pie.”

[pullquote]Mobile ordering has delivered a significant uptick in sales for campus dining operations, increasing throughput during peak business hours, decreasing congestion and engaging more students[/pullquote]

Order up

Regardless of the solution provider, mobile ordering seems to be a win-win service fit for any college campus.

Both campus operators and students benefit from mobile ordering capabilities, says Almog. “Extending the reach of campuses to include delivery from on-campus venues helps achieve the goals of food services on campus.”

For campuses that have seen success with mobile ordering, there are two common themes: successful marketing of the solution and an overall experience that’s fast and convenient, says CBORD’s Chaffee. “You can have the best online ordering app and experience out there, but it’s crucial to follow that through all the way to the delivery or pickup stage.”

For any app or service to succeed, there must be a benefit to the user. “If a student places a mobile order but still has to wait in a line to pick up their food, then they may not use the app again because there’s no real value,” explains Chaffee. “The operational changes are key – not just being able to handle orders, but also being prepared on the pickup side.”

Tapingo at Pitt

The university of Pittsburgh utilizes Tapingo at several on-campus dining locations, and relies on the mobile food services company to support its off-campus merchant program as well.

“When using Tapingo on-campus students can use their meal plan’s Dining Dollars, the declining balance program Panther Funds, credit or debit cards and even PayPal,” says Julie Bannister, manager of Panther Central at the University of Pittsburgh. “Off-campus students can use Panther Funds, credit or debit cards and PayPal.”

Tapingo has helped to solve some challenges on Pittsburgh’s campus. “We have been able to expedite our lines during the peak lunch and dinner rush,” says Bannister. “This program has enabled us to restructure the organization and expedite student orders.”

It has been well received at Pittsburgh. “We have received great student feedback in regards to the timing of their orders being ready when they get to the location,” says Bannister. “This past school year the students voted Tapingo the Best App around campus through our campus newspaper.”

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