Appy Meals: Family friendly tech puts the ‘Happy’ back in meals

At a time when eating out has become the norm rather than a treat, hospitality giant McDonald’s is pushing back with a pioneering restaurant format dedicated to putting a little magic back into family dining.

The Spirit of Family concept implemented in 2012 aims to reduce stressful moments for families and make the eating out experience more enjoyable and playful. It uses smart technologies such as self-order kiosks, Bouncepad entertainment stations and interactive digital play tables to encourage a hassle-free and fun experience.

The Milton Keynes 2012 pilot featured a Browsing Bar: A bank of tablets secured inside Bouncepad tablet enclosures to offer kids and adults the chance to surf the web, play games and check their social media.

McDonalds prides itself on being at the forefront of customer experience led design and is an early adopter of technology, as Richard Forte, Chief Operations Officer explained in 2012:

“The Spirit of Family restaurant…provides a glimpse into how McDonald’s restaurants will continue to evolve in the future, by building on McDonald’s extensive knowledge of what both parents and children want when they eat out together as a family.”

In continuation of the Spirit of Family concept, McDonald’s launched in 2015 the Experience of the Future program to enhance digital capabilities and technology to elevate the customer experience in restaurants, in the drive-thru, and on the go.

Installations can be found in locations in the UK, across Europe, Canada and more recently in the US. The Bouncepad tablet stations have become a popular restaurant fixture, with over 50 users per tablet per day, and 97% of users positive about their experience*.

*Source: McDonalds Customer Satisfaction Survey, 2013

Bouncepad’s modular enclosure system effortlessly accommodated the varying worldwide installation environments, adapting to a range of mounting surfaces and tablet models including Samsung Galaxy Tabs and iPads. Bouncepad models used include the Static 60 and the Sumo, mounted products that are the ideal viewing height for those seated at a table. Movement extras include the Rotate feature for the Static 60 that allows children to easily share games with other players and Switch, a function that enables content to display in either landscape or portrait.

Despite the obvious ‘fast’ nature of their food offer, McDonald’s is clearly dedicated to helping its customers to relax and enjoy the experience of eating their meal in relative peace and quiet, as Forte reflects:

“It has been a very wise investment. If you look back at our restaurants back in 2004/2005, and you look at our restaurants now, there has been a complete transformation. It has been a long journey but one worth taking.”