The purpose of this article is to explore the practical applications of Cell Phone Pager or Restaurant Text Pager system, to evaluate their return on investment and speculate as to the future of the guest pager.

Guest Pager system technology has evolved beyond the Coaster Pager to what is now known as the "Cell Phone Pager" or "Restaurant Text Pager".
Savvy Restaurant managers, hotels operators, health care administrators as well as retailers are now realizing the efficiency and communication power of the mobile phone in terms of a guest services tool that can enhance operations while keeping costs down. What makes this possible is the proliferation in mobile phone users and the advances in hand set technology i.e. smart phones, SMS, MMS, email, the mobile web and of course mobile applications (thanks to Apple). That fact that so many people have mobile phones means just about everyone has their own cell phone pager, another words the business owner no longer has to invest in costly pager equipment ($2000 - $6,000) in order to notify his customers.

According to the Mobile Marketing Association, there are over 4 billion people with cell phones, 5 times more mobile phones than laptops and computers, 272 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. 91% of them keep there phones within three of themselves 24/7. 76% of the cell phone users actively text messages with an open rate of 95%. Another words everyone has on them a restaurant guest pager, it's thier cell phone.

Top 10 benefits associated with cell phone guest text pager system:

  1. Start up costs can be reduced by about 75% (from $4000 to $200)
  2. Pagers loss will be decreased by greater than 100% ($70 to 0)
  3. 8 out 10 guest have a guest pager system with them i.e. cell phone
  4. The ROI is less than 12 months
  5. The best cell phone pager system bundle the wait list cue, call a head seating and voice / text guest notification
  6. No server or software to load or maintain on your PC or network
  7. Guests have the ability to respond to the page when using a cell phone (i.e. click to call)
  8. Guest appreciate the freedom
  9. Sanitary and reduces the spread of influenza, H1N1 and staff bacteria
  10. Mobile marketing module (text coupons, mobile trivia, etc) to drive traffic


Although expensive, the restaurant pager systems developed in the 90s are simple to set up and simple to use. According to LRS, the standard restaurant pager system
will come with 20, 30, 40 or 50 pagers depending on your wait time. The
average costs for a restaurant pager system can range from $2,500 for 20
pagers to well over $5,000 for a 50 pager system. Determining the
number of pagers you need can be tricky and you always want to have
enough but each additional pager can cost up to $70. A common
frustration is having to replace missing pagers, not because they break,
the guest usually walks off with them.

The return on investment from using cell phone paging, system startup costs
are reduced by up to 30% because fewer pagers are required. By using
fewer pagers, restaurants will lose fewer pagers, thus saving them money
over the life of the system which is typically 4-5 years. In many
restaurants with waiting times that average 45 minutes, the loss rate is
about 1-2 pagers per month. With an estimated cost per pager of $45,
this will break down to $90 dollars a month or more that could be saved
if the restaurant could use cell phone paging and a smaller number of
pagers per system. In order to utilize cell phone paging, a broadband
internet connection is required at your hostess station.

For most, this expense is already built in to the overall networking cost of your
restaurant so no additional costs are required. Here is an example of
the standard ROI in a restaurant with a 60 minute wait. Turning tables -
if you could turn on average another 2 parties per night through the
restaurant that goes on a wait 2 nights per week then in one month you
would turn 8 parties. If your average 2 party ticket is $30.00 then you
would see a sales increase of $240.00 per month or $2880.00 per year.
Losing Pagers if you could reduce the amount of pagers being lost by 2
pagers per month than you would benefit from a savings of about $80 per
month or $960.00 per year.

Capital Costs of Guest Pager Systems

When you purchase a system for a restaurant that is on an hour wait then the standard is to order 40 pagers. With the average cost of $40.00 per pager the restaurant if using cell phone
paging could order 40% less pagers which is 16 pagers times $70 each which equals $640.00. The ROI can be seen both in the upfront savings as well as monthly and yearly. If you are on a wait and have a restaurant then having a guest paging solution to manage your wait is essential andif it has the capability to do cell phone or text messaging as well
then that system will give you the flexibility and functionality that will be the most effective in running your wait. Work Cited: LRS White Paper Cell Phone Pagers

Consumer Acceptance of Cell Phone Pagers

There is a correlation between the length of the wait time and consumer satisfaction. The longer the wait the less satisfied the guest is. My observation has revealed the mobile
phone, particularly feature phones and smart phones keep guests distracted while they wait. Many guests, while waiting, tend to talk,
text or play on their cell phone making the transition away from traditional guest pagers to restaurant cell phone pagers a natural evolution. According to restaurant owner Phil Conti of Paitti RestaurantBar and Grill. "Everyone has a cell phone and everyone is either
looking at it or talking on it, especially with unlimited text and voice plans."


The value added benefit of cell phone text pagers is the opportunity to
harvest guest cell phone numbers for a permission based mobile marketing
campaigns. Houlihans, Brinker International and many other restaurant
industry leaders have been cashing on the mobile marketing phenomenon.
Innovators such as Text2Table ,
Mobile Matradee and Mobile VIP for instance are mobile technology firms that specialize in developing mobile marketing
solutions, applications, mobile websites and mobile marketing campaigns.
Unlike the traditional pager industry these small dynamic firms bring a
lot more to the table, according to John Barker, President of iT-Worxs,
LLc, an IT development company specializing in interactive technology
development. Looks like the future is here today. Please comment and share your experience with managing your wait list.

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