“It won’t be seamless — receipt printer problems, confusion, operator adjustment, food sits too long, the student doesn’t show up so how does it get credited back to the outlet. All these are growing pains for the operator,” he stresses.
The great challenges are the ones that pay off. Highland Market has experienced a 20% growth in sales, and the challenge has been how to manage all the extra orders – a good problem to have.
The Tapingo app enables purchases at off-campus establishments – both national chains and local Tucson restaurants – as well as at on-campus establishments. Students can elect to use their campus card declining balance funds for purchases made at on-campus locations only.
Students or any Tucson resident can use a credit card to order through the Tapingo app. While this does enable Arizona students to order from a competitive establishment, crucially it makes on-campus venues an option when sitting at the table is not the patron’s preference.
What does the future hold?
Millay sees mobile ordering and delivery ushering in a series of changes to campus dining.
One of the first areas to be impacted will be the campus catering service that primarily serves academic and administrative offices. “We do hundreds and hundreds of these each day and it requires a huge amount of labor,” he says. He hopes to utilize the Tapingo delivery channel to expedite and add efficiency to the catering operation.
He even mentions heated and cooled lockers that would hold delivered meals for student pickup in areas like the university’s business school, which he considers to be food deficient.
Still, Millay views all of this technology and innovation as a complement to traditional campus dining. “It will never replace dining, because food is a bonding experience. Students still want that experience.”
The complementary services like mobile ordering and delivery, however, may prove to be the recipe that bolsters the bottom line for many campus food services.