University of Florida got their first taste this school year of a phone app that allows any person to pre-order food for pick-up at designated on-campus locations.
Founded in 2012, Tapingo gives users the ability to skip the long lines that tend to build up on college campuses during peak meal times.
At UF, students can use their Gator 1 ID cards as a payment option for use of Flex Bucks or declining balance. The app is geared toward college students, but any person can use it, according to Jill Rodriguez, marketing program manager at UF’s Gator Dining Services.
UF is one of 28 higher-education institutions that formed partnerships with Tapingo in the first quarter of this year. The list also includes the University of South Florida, Florida International University and the University of Miami.
Rodriguez said that the university did a soft launch of Tapingo during UF’s Summer A semester, with the official rollout coming during the Summer B semester.
“The soft launch gave us time to tweak all the nuisances associated with the various menu builds,” Rodriguez wrote in an email. “We had location managers go through all of the ordering processes for each menu item to make sure the menu flow for ordering an item was accurate and consistent with how a customer would order an item, if they were at the actual location.”
More than 7,400 on UF’s campus have registered for the app, and an average of 1,400 orders are being filled daily, Rodriguez said. The UF establishments that experience the most traffic from Tapingo orders are Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Einstein Bros. Bagels.
Preston Jones, a UF junior studying political science, said he heard of the app through word-of-mouth.
“It’s very convenient,” he said after picking up lunch from Panda Express in the J. Wayne Reitz Union food court. “If I’m just sitting and heading to go get food, I can just do it on my phone and it’ll be ready.”
At the University of Miami, Tapingo has been on campus for more than two years, according to Amanda Goodwin, the director of marketing and guest experience for Chartwells, the university’s food-service provider.
“It’s been pretty successful here,” she said. “[The students] really love the service during lunch.”
Rodriguez said that there has been a learning curve thus far in terms of how employees of the dining establishments are responding to balancing in-person and Tapingo orders. However, Goodwin said that the food-services staff at UM has fully adjusted to the system since its implementation.
“They’re all trained,” she said. “It’s not a burden at all. They’re trained, and they work [on] the orders as they come in from their printer.”
Goodwin said the app is primarily used by students but has also been utilized by a noticeable amount of faculty and staff.
“We actually have a lot of faculty and staff that utilize it, as well,” she said. They use it “when they know it’s going to be busy — to come over and pick up their meals and be on their way.”
Goodwin said UM hasn’t had complaints for incorrect orders through Tapingo. The only issues experienced by users, she added, are based on the university’s internet network.
“It’s a pretty well-oiled machine,” she said. “It has moved forward very well.”