- McDonald's, the burger chain with 36,000 restaurants worldwide, installed a phone locker at one of its locations in Singapore as part of a pilot campaign, "Phone Off, Fun On," that urges people to set aside their smartphones and talk to each other, Channel NewsAsia reported. The restaurant also added stickers on restaurant tables suggesting guests turn their phones off while they sit down to eat.
- Almost all parents and 91% of kids use their mobile devices when they are with their families, according to a survey conducted by McDonald's Singapore in September. The restaurant also found that 72% of children and 69% of adults use their phones during meals.
- The fast food chain is also testing free table service at the Marine Cove, Singapore, location with "guest experience leaders," whose main role is to engage with families and let parents focus on their kids. Customers can select the table service feature when placing an order at the self-ordering kiosk, according to Channel NewsAsia.
McDonald's pilot program to encourage families to put down their phones during meals and focus on family bonding is a nice idea, but it's unclear if it will succeed. So far, the phone lockers appear to be mostly unused, according to anecdotal reports on social media cited by Mashable. One potential reason for this is that consumers who are drawn to the fast food chain for a quick bite might not want to take the time to lock up their phone and potentially forget it on the way out of the restaurant.
The phone lockers piggyback on the idea of "guest experience leaders" at several McDonald's locations in Singapore, who provide free table service and aim to interact with guests and get them to engage with each other and the employees.
With the "Phone Off, Fun On" effort, McDonald's appears to be smartly focusing on enhancing the overall dining experience while customers are in the restaurants. This isn't the first time the fast food chain has tested initiatives to urge people to put away their smartphones and engage with others. Two years ago, the company tried a similar effort in India that encouraged teens to cut back on mobile phone usage, via TV commercials and Twitter push, Lighthouse Insights reported. That campaign also offered prizes to people who entered the contest by posting photos on social media that showed their fun offline activities.