Why All Event Organizers Should Use An Appointment Waitlist App - NextME

Why All Event Organizers Should Be Using An Appointment Waitlist Platform

Nobody likes to wait. This is even more true in today’s fast-paced, on-demand society. But waiting is made so much less annoying when you’re given accurate information and kept informed. This is just one of the benefits a waitlist platform can provide for attendees at your next big event. 

Waitlist platforms like NextME are an increasingly popular way for businesses to handle a queue of customers. From restaurants to healthcare clinics to conferences and industry events, this simple to use technology is taking the sting out of waiting. 

And waitlist technology is making things easier on the exhibitor’s end too. It’s taking care of back end tasks like collecting customer data and keeping track of appointments. 

Read on to find out why an appointment waitlist platform is a win/win solution that every event organizer should be using.

Why Appointment Management is Important for Events and Conferences

Greater Exhibitor Retention – Waitlist solutions like NextME allow your exhibitors to properly manage appointments and visitors during events. This leads to greater retention of exhibitors from one event to the next. 

Let’s face it. Your exhibitors are investing a lot of capital to be a part of your event. And they want to ensure they’ll get a good ROI for this investment. The most valuable commodity they’re after? Qualified leads. If you can provide them with the ability to easily capture and qualify potential leads, you’ll see exhibitors come back year after year. 

Providing NextME to your exhibitors is a great way to do this. In fact, this appointment and waitlist platform has been proven to improve lead retention rates by up to 35%. And it’s been tried and tested by the big boys like GE Appliances, who were able to capture more leads and close more sales than in prior events.  

Greater Attendee Retention – Just like exhibitors, you want to entice your attendees to return for future events. A solution like NextME presents a seamless and user-friendly face to visitors at each booth of your event. If they can spend their time networking, browsing, and learning rather than standing in line, they’ll feel like it was time well spent. 

At BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience, NextME was deployed to great effect. As attendees waited to test drive the car of their choice, the chaos of this packed event was effectively managed with this waitlist platform. It allowed for quicker turnarounds so that visitors could participate more fully and test more cars. At all 16 of these events across the country, this lead to enhanced attendee experiences and positive responses. 

"This appointment and waitlist platform has been proven to improve lead retention rates by up to 35%"

The Benefit of Using a Platform that Offers Waitlist and Appointment Management

So why NextME? Why not just combine a basic appointment software with a simple waitlist? Or even just use an old school appointment book? 

Many event exhibitors have found that setting appointments at an event can actually hurt their bottom line when visitors don’t show up. They may have booked a full day of appointments and brought the appropriate staff only to find that half of the visitors have changed their minds or found other things to do. Staff is left twiddling their thumbs waiting for people who are not coming. And booths are less busy, and consequently less profitable, than they expected. 

It’s similar to the no show problem restaurants have faced for years using reservation systems like OpenTable. Since NextME was originally designed for the restaurant industry, our platform was created with this difficulty in mind. 

NextME offers a combined “appointment waitlist” where people can get a priority spot for a specific appointment time but the expectations are that they still may have to wait. 

With a simple text message, just before their appointment attendees can let booth operators know if they’re still planning to keep their appointment. If so, they are prompted to return to the booth as they’re soon to be next in line. If not, the waitlist is moved forward accordingly and the day progresses smoothly. Staff stays busy, booths stay active, and exhibitors and attendees alike don’t have to waste their time waiting. 

So before your next big event, why not give NextME a call? We’d love to show you how our platform can fit into your plans seamlessly.


Top 12 Brunch Restaurants in Chicago

When you want to head out to one of Chicago’s world-class eateries for a brunch feast, it can be hard to choose. Whether you live in the Windy City or are just visiting, you’re going to love these twelve picks. We’ve selected options that are favorites all around town, and all with no reservations required. So without further ado, below are our picks for the top brunch restaurants in Chicago. 

Top Brunch Restaurants in Chicago

Fresh Seasonal Brunch at Bongo Room

Bongo Room - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Zagat

When you want brunch done right, why not go to a spot that only does breakfast and lunch? The Bongo Room has locations in Wicker Park, South Loop, and Andersonville. They serve up a menu full of brunchy faves all week long. But things really get special on the weekend when they break out their “Sinful” brunch menu featuring faves like a chocolate tower french toast or deconstructed lobster roll benedict. Want something a little more classic? No worries. You can choose from breakfast options like their croissant sandwich, also available in a vegetarian version, or a crowd-pleasing breakfast burrito. If you’re more in the mood for lunch staples, they have all sorts of sandwiches and salads with enough variety to please any palette.

Bakery Brunch at Cafe Selmarie

Cafe Selmarie Bakery - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Winnie

Cafe Selmarie features a contemporary American menu, but on the brunch menu, it’s really the pastries that shine. Their Sunday Brunch offerings change each week, but expect the usual options like benedicts and scrambles, each with a unique twist. Normal pancakes are punched up with walnuts and cherries. Enjoy a roasted mushroom benedict featuring feta and caramelized onion hollandaise. Or top off your eggs with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, and housemade basil pesto. But the real star of the show is the pastry case at the front, which you can browse while you wait. From sour cream coffee cake to housemade granola, it’s got options to suit any taste.

Gastropub Brunch at Farm Bar

Farm Bar - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Eater Chicago

Head to Lakeview this weekend and stop in at Farm Bar for an authentic gastropub experience. On the brunch menu you’ll find down-home breakfast goodies like their pasture-raised steak and eggs or strawberries and cream ricotta pancakes. There are snack options like wisconsin cheese curds or Bavarian style pretzels. And if you’re in a lunch mood, their burgers and fried chicken sandwiches are amazing. Wash it down with their crowd pleasing cold-brew coffee or one of their delightful cocktails. They have four versions of the mimosa to choose from plus sangria, bloody marys, and a featured drink they call the alco-chino.

Pizza Brunch at Frasca

Frasca Pizza - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Eggs, bacon, and toast are great, but sometimes you want your brunch with a bit of a twist. If this sounds like you, you’ve got to try Frasca pizzeria + wine bar. Here you can still get all of those brunch staples like eggs benedict, omelets, and pancakes. But they’ll also be happy to make you a delicious wood-fired pizza for your brunch delight. Can’t choose between the two? You’re going to love the breakfast pizza featuring 3 over easy eggs, sausage, bacon, and cheese. For an extra special treat, add some prosciutto and hollandaise. And don’t forget their mimosa bottle service, peach bellinis, and award-winning bloody marys.

Vegan Brunch at Majani

Majani Vegan - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Majani

Looking for soul food minus the meat and dairy? Majani serves up a soulful vegan brunch that won’t disappoint. Scrambled tofu, lentil sausage with tomato gravy, cheese grits, collard greens, and delicious pancakes are on offer. And it’s all made from the freshest ingredients sourced from local gardens, so you can feel good about eating this decadent and delicious fare.

Organic Brunch at Nana

Nana - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Nana

For another healthy twist on delicious brunch staples, head over to Nana for local, sustainable, organic food that’s totally crave-worthy. The selections are seasonal, but look for delicious staples like chilaquiles and breakfast sandwiches mixed in with options like avocado fries, dulce de leche pancakes, and cauliflower salad. And be sure to grab a side of one of their house-made sausage patties or hose smoked bacon. Everything that comes out of their scratch kitchen is free from additives hormones, and other undesirables. It’s clean eating that tastes sinfully good.

Patio Brunch at Paradise Park

Paradise Park Patio - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Park

Outdoor dining is a big deal in warm, sunny locations like Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston. But Paradise Park manages to bring a bright spot of sunshine to the windy city with their take on the pizza brunch. You’re sure to love standards like avocado toast and chicken & waffles. But for the more adventurous diner they’re also serving up dutch baby tacos, pulled pork hash, and all sorts of pizza options. Wash it all down with their delicious bottomless mimosas or bloodys, or try out a hangover coffee topped with a Do-Rite Donut!

Fried Chicken Brunch at Parson’s Chicken and Fish

Parson's Chicken & Fish - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App
Clayton Hauck for Parson's

If fried chicken is your favorite brunch food, you’ve got to head to Parson’s in Logan Square or Lincoln Park. For those not in a fried chicken sort of mood, they also offer delightful dishes like their pimento cheese scramble or a smoked salmon veggie club. Want something sweet? Their seasonal cobbler is made with fresh local fruit and topped with fluffy whipped cream. While you’re there, be sure to grab some of their signature beer, brewed in partnership with Revolution Brewing.

Brazilian Brunch at Sinhá

Sinha - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Eating the World

Head for the tastes of South America with Sinhá, a Chicago eatery serving up elegant Brazilian cuisine. The Sunday brunch buffet features farofa, a cassava meal dish, and delicious fried plantains, plus whatever delicious Brazilian delights the chef has chosen to make this weekend. You can expect a variety of dishes made from chicken, beef, seafood, and veggies, paired with mouthwatering hot sauces and chutneys. You’ll also get complimentary desserts, juice, and Brazilian coffee and tea. But if you’re looking for a boozy brunch experience, you’ll need to BYOB.

Foodie Brunch at Southport Grocery and Cafe

Southport Grocery & Cafe - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Southport Grocery & Cafe

At the Southport Grocery and Cafe you can enjoy an amazing scratch made brunch and then bring home delicious and fresh award-winning groceries to create your own foodie feast. This European style cafe offers amazing pastries like scones, cupcakes, cruffins, and savory hand pies. Their all-day breakfast favorites include a veggie quiche or their very own “grown-up pop tart”. Lunch options include the Southport Cuban, chop salad, or a grilled cheese featuring pickled green tomatoes and local apples. Wash it down with kombucha, housemade soda on tap, canned wine, or a beermosa. Southport Grocery and Cafe also happens to be a NextME partner, so even if there is a waitlist when you arrive, you can feel comfortable that it will be managed with ease. 

Filipino Brunch at Uncle Mike’s Place

Uncle Mike's Place - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Fab Food Chicago

Looking for something with an island flair? Uncle Mike's Place serves up their famous Filipino breakfast all day every day. Try the Longaniza, a sweet anise-wine chorizo sausage. Or devour their Tocino, an annato and anise cured pork shoulder. They’ve also got a variety of egg dishes and omelettes to chose from, plus pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, and authentic Filipino breakfast combos. For lunch dishes, there are all the usual sandwiches, soups, salads, and fruit plates. Plus sample the free homemade Lugaw rice soup that’s so good it’s also available to go. This place is a little slice of Pinoy heaven, on Grand Ave in West Town.

Louisiana Style Brunch at Wishbone

Wishbone - Top Brunch Restaurants Chicago No-Reservation NextME Waitlist App

Photo Courtesy of Bitches Who Brunch

You may not think of finding a farm-fresh Cajun brunch menu in Chitown, but at Wishbone West Loop, you’ll get just that. Enjoy a jambalaya omelette or crawfish cake benedict. The cajun shrimp and grits and chicken andouille hash will remind you of a lazy Sunday morning in the French Quarter. And of course they’re serving up southern favorites like chicken and waffles, corn cakes, and buscuits and gravy. Brunch cocktails on offer include the bloody mary or an irish coffee, as well as unique concoctions like the corpse reviver #312 and the mud bone.


Restaurants Save Time and Money with a Waitlist App

Technology is everywhere, from the smartphones we carry with us to the advanced systems in our cars, to the tech in use at places of business large and small. And the restaurant industry is no exception.

From touchscreen food and beverage dispensers that offer diners more options and a serve yourself experience, to biodiesel converters that will convert your used fryer oil to fuel delivery trucks and catering vehicles, technology is improving the way we do business. And better yet, it’s improving the bottom line of an industry with infamously tight margins.

But how, exactly, is all of this progress helping restaurateurs to save? We’ll examine how just one inexpensive bit of technology can increase profits, decrease costs, and help your restaurant run more smoothly even at the busiest of times.

Stop Seating Parties Like It’s 1999

Many eateries who don’t accept reservations are still relying on those costly, germ-ridden pager systems they’ve been using for 20 years or more. Yet these systems are pretty much the opposite of technological progress.

In addition to the sizeable cost of outfitting a restaurant with these bits of last century tech, you’re also on the hook for the expense of maintaining them, and replacement costs that can reach up to $100 per unit. Then there are the man hours spent on upkeep, searching for wayward pagers when guests get tired of waiting and just ditch them in the waiting area, and the eyesore of a blinking tower of plastic that greets your guests when they approach the host’s table.

Ditch the pagers, and instead tap into the technology that most of your diners are already carrying with them anyway. With a waitlist app like NextME, you can replace all of that outdated equipment with a single sleek and sophisticated iPad or iPhone. Plus, the app is a simple solution to implement, and new host staff can be trained and up to speed quickly for a minimum of downtime. As an added bonus, guests don’t even have to download the app to take advantage of the NextME system! They simply give the host their phone numbers, then receive SMS texts notifying them of their wait times and positions in line.

Keep Guests Engaged to Prevent Walkouts

Hosts see it daily. A party comes in, puts their name on the list, and sits down to wait. But when their turn comes and their name is called, the party is nowhere to be found. The host then has to spend valuable time trying to locate them before moving on to the next party in line. It’s a frustrating experience for all involved.

With the NextME waitlist, customers can see exactly where they are in line, along with their estimated wait times - all via SMS texts without needing to download a separate app. Additionally, they can browse the menu, check out your current specials, read reviews on your social media pages, and otherwise engage with your brand while they wait. All of this leads to 25% fewer walkouts over all. But what about those who still leave? Since guests can confirm or cancel their table when they’re told it’s ready, your host won’t have to waste time tracking down wayward parties.

Double Your Table Turns

If you could double the number of tables you could serve per hour at peak times, what would that do for your bottom line? You may be wondering how such a thing is possible, and what it has to do with waitlist apps.

Displaying digital menus to patrons while they wait can significantly cut down on the time spent at the table trying to decide what to order. And since NextME’s customer facing mobile marketing page allows you to display your menu, specials, social media, and other promotional messages to each guest on the waitlist, you can expect tables to turn much faster – up to twice as fast! For those who are counting, that means double the revenue during peak dining hours.

Keep Your Front of the House Running Smoothly

Have you even calculated how much time your hosts spend answering questions about how much longer the wait will be? Or tracking down parties who have wandered off or pagers that have been ditched in the bushes outside? As you’ve already seen, waitlist apps can help eliminate each of these time sinks to allow your hosts to focus on what really matters: hospitality. And that increased staff efficiency means more productivity with fewer FTEs, and a less stressful shift for those working peak hours.

But Does It Really Save Money?

NextME’s track record has been proven, and restaurants can attest to the effect it’s had on their customer satisfaction as well as their bottom lines. Of course, your results will vary depending on the size of your restaurant and the volume of guests you seat on a given day, but it’s not unreasonable to suggest you’ll likely save thousands. In fact, Southport Grocery & Cafe, a tiny brunch destination, saved over $2,000 by switching to NextME. And a larger chain, Lou Malnati's, saved upwards of $10,000 across their 13 locations. So the real question is, can you afford not to update your waitlist?


How to Manage Waitlists at No-Reservation Restaurants

“Are there services where you can pay someone to wait in line for you? Any creative workarounds? There’s gotta be some random startup that’s solved this problem, no?”

“I’ve also noticed that many of the brunch spots in yelp that are tagged as “takes reservations” don’t actually take reservations for brunch … super annoying.”

NextME has! NextME is a digital waitlist app that allows you to hold your place in line with just your cellphone number. The app sends you a text message confirming your placement on the list and provides a link to a countdown clock for you and your party. The best part is you don’t have to download anything on your end, you just have to visit a restaurant that’s using it. As you can imagine, having a countdown clock means that instead of standing on your feet in line, you’ll be making the most of that extra time. When the clock gets low, NextME will send out another text, which you will reply to keep or cancel your reservation. From there, you’ll be notified when the restaurant is ready to seat you.

PS** If your favorite restaurants aren’t using NextME we’ve put together a nice referral program. Make sure to request NextME at your favorite restaurants and we’ll compensate you once they sign up.

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