Thirsty? Just SMS

Short Message Service (SMS) seems to have caught on with a vengeance in Singapore. As of last month, MobileOne Asia Pte customers could buy drinks from selected vending machines via SMS.

SINGAPORE--Short Message Service (SMS) seems to have caught on with a vengeance in Singapore.

As of last month, MobileOne Asia Pte customers could buy drinks from selected vending machines via SMS. Pizza Hut also had a promotion allowing consumers to participate in their advertising campaign by sending personal information to the restaurant using the messaging service.

Now, customers of Newsroom Bar at Robertson Quay needn't even jostle through the crowd to order drinks at the bar. That's right, they can place their orders through SMS instead.

At each table, customers can find an instruction leaflet that provides details on how to order their drinks via SMS, said BuzzCity Pte Ltd spokesperson Serene Lee. BuzzCity is providing the patent-pending mobile communications technology, Mobile Club, to the bar.

Customers need only dial 97289948, and send a message indicating the drinks they want together with the table number. Their orders will "immediately" be displayed on television screens facing the bartenders, BuzzCity claimed in a statement.

When the drinks are ready, customers will receive a SMS notification and be served.

This service is available to all mobile phone users regardless of their operator, and does not require pre-registration.

The SMS drinks ordering service was introduced two weeks ago, and since then "there has been an increase in sales", said Peter Wong, the owner of Towkay Wong's Holdings Pte Ltd. Towkay Wong's is the holding company of Newsroom Bar, Sultan of Swing at Central Mall and Madam Wong's at Mohamed Sultan Road. The company also runs Sultan of Swing Shanghai in China.

"As long as you have a mobile phone, you will not go thirsty in Newsroom Bar. We even have excited customers asking us why we did not introduce this earlier," Wong added.

However, the bar is currently helpless to prevent users from misusing the SMS service--for example, patrons of one table ordering for another, or pranksters sending an SMS from the other end of Singapore.

"But, there are no abusers so far," Lee noted. "Mobile Club is able to capture their mobile phone numbers, so users will not abuse it," she added.

Lee pointed out that there is a warning on the instruction leaflet that abusers of the service will be blacklisted.

Mobile phone numbers captured by Mobile Club will also be used as a marketing tool by Newsroom Bar, according to the BuzzCity statement.

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