LOS ANGELES — As host of Spike TV's Bar Rescue, which returns for its third season on July 7, tough-talking Jon Taffer travels non-stop to restaurants and bars to show them how to improve their businesses. But off-screen, the former New Yorker is a softie who won't go anywhere without his iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro and portable Jambox Bluetooth speaker.
The road warrior uses the Jambox and $1.99 Sleep Machine app to fall asleep in hotels. "I don't want to hear doors slamming, I don't want to hear maids in the hallway," he says. "I have programmed my brain that when it hears the Sleep Machine, it knows it's bedtime."
With the iPhone paired with the Jambox, he has 90 different sounds at his disposal. One he likes is "Thunderstorm at the beach."
"You get rain falling, distant thunder and the sound of waves in the background," he says. He keeps it playing all night, and sets an alarm in the morning to switch to harp music.
"It's amazing," he says. "This little phone lets me do my business calls, puts me to sleep, wakes me up in the morning, keeps me informed all day long. The simple things can be really powerful."
WHY HE WON'T USE RESTAURANT-ORDERING APPS
Many eateries (Chipotle, California Pizza Kitchen) have apps that let you order and pay from home, then come in to find your dishes waiting. Taffer doesn't use them.
"I choose not to give my personal information. I choose not to give my credit card. I'm a hospitality guy. I'm not so quick to jump in. I read about people's privacy getting stolen. It worries me. I'm not sure I want them to know my name before I walk in so they know I'm coming."
But what of a potential future in which most patrons order this way? Then he'll participate. "Then I won't be noticed when I do it. When I'm 5% of the business coming in the door, I'm more noticed. When I'm one of a bunch, I'm less noticed."
WHAT'S UP NEXT IN ORDERING
Taffer, who is a hospitality consultant and speaker, says 3D menus will begin appearing on tables within the next year.
"You'll have a monitor built onto a table, and they'll give you (3D) glasses instead of a menu." Diners will don the glasses to see life-size photos of what's being offered. The 3D system will make dining "more fun, and the food more appetizing. You can almost taste the item."
For the restaurateur, a digital 3D menu replacing the analog menu will mean a more timely dining experience, with new items added daily, or even hourly. "The infusion of tech in hospitality is on a surge."
Bar rescue's Jon Taffer talks the next trend in restaurant dining - 3D menus.
TECH HAS INVADED KARAOKE
Taffer just featured a bar on Bar Rescue that used tech for a new take on Karaoke. Start by downloading the TouchTunes app (free; Apple and Android), register, and wait for the host to call you.
"A lot of people don't want to walk up on stage to register. Now you can do it on the phone in a more discreet way and reserve your spot." Then stand up, and sing — while reading the lyrics on your phone.
He enjoys discovering names of songs with Shazam, and won't travel without TripCase (free; Apple and Android). "It tracks all your travel, limo, airfares, hotels ... gives you gate-arrival information. It's a key asset for me."
For more from Taffer, check out the full audio interview on SoundCloud.