Wireless waiting service rings a bell for restaurants

By Yi Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-23 08:11
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BEIJING - Many foreigners will have experienced having to shout in noisy Chinese restaurants to call the waiters.

However, several Chinese companies are planning to cash in on these raucous restaurants by providing them with bell boards that transmit orders wirelessly.

The Shanghai-based All Top Media is one of the first Chinese companies to provide restaurants and bars with wireless bell boards gratis. It then charges for advertising posting on them. The company has earned net profit of 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) in the past two years, said Li Jiancheng, the company's general manager.

Having been established at the end of 2007, All Top Media now operates a network of more than 40,000 bells in 2,000 locations in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

"We have noticed that many consumers have difficulty calling for waiters in noisy restaurants and bars, and so we thought of a way to make money by solving that problem," said Li.

He said their target restaurants are those where the average consumption by each person is around 50 yuan, and their main advertisers are some of the smaller financial companies such as Credit Ease, and Internet businesses such as

Liu Wenxing, chief manager of the Royal Moore Cafe, a Beijing-based coffee house that has used the system for six months, said the free system is "a good deal".

"The best thing about the system is that it not only creates a much quieter environment, but also help restaurants to reduce the number of waiters," said Liu.

He said the system also means waiters are much more efficient.

China's advertising market is expected to grow 10 percent this year, to more than 550 billion yuan. That's a huge contrast to the forecast of just one percent growth in the global market, according to figures from research firm CTR.

Chen Gang, a professor of advertising at Peking University, said China's advertising market will grow rapidly during the next few years because of the country's dynamic growth.

Wang Chenggui, chairman of MM Call Electronics Ltd, another company producing the wireless service bells, said he is optimistic about China's advertising business in restaurants and bars as consumers are expected to spend more time and money in establishments such as these.

But he said his company has no plans to provide the wireless bell system to customers free of charge, and wants to make revenue solely from equipment sales.

Li from All Top Media is in talks with several venture capital companies for investment and the company has started to reap rewards after a huge investment in networks in the first three years of its existence.

China Daily