Managing Your Business: October 2013

Published in FSD Update

This month,  USC rolls out a new mobile ordering app and current Baltimore City Public Schools lunch prices.

> USC Rolls Out Mobile Ordering App

A need to speed service at retail outlets on campus has led dining services at the University of Southern California to partner with a technology company to allow students to order and pay for food remotely through a mobile app. USC Hospitality has signed an agreement with Tapingo, a company that operates a contextual shopping app that processes on-the-go orders and makes items available for pickup within minutes.

Dirk de Jong, associate director of operations for USC Hospitality, says the service is being phased in, with seven restaurants currently linked to the app. “We started with the locations where we were having the most traffic,” de Jong explains. “That would be our Starbucks outlet, which is known as Trojan Grounds; five locations in the food court at our Tutor Campus Center; and Literatea, which is our upscale tea concept.”

USC Hospitality began exploring mobile ordering options to alleviate crowding at certain times. “Every campus has these demand peaks, which are often tied to classes letting out,” de Jong notes. “As far as technology solutions, we looked at installing order kiosks and online ordering capability, but being able to order through your cell phone is emerging technology and one that our students would be very comfortable with.”

The app will allow students and faculty to pay for their purchases with PayPal or a credit card, and resident students will even be able to use meal plan swipes as payment.

De Jong also points out that the new app will provide USC Hospitality with marketing and data collection opportunities. “One aspect that is intriguing is that we can use the app to let customers know about locations that are less well used, so we can drive traffic,” he says. “The back-office piece will give us data to collect such as traffic counts, average check and our upselling efforts.” 

> $3

The price for lunch at Baltimore City Public Schools. The reduced-price meals category has been eliminated and the district hopes to make up for some of the lost revenue by increasing paid meal prices. Last year’s prices for lunch were $2.35 for elementary students and $2.65 for middle and high school students, according to the Baltimore Sun