Expert Insight: How App-Based Mobile Ordering Could Save Declining Room Service Sales
In the second part of our interview with the founder of Bbot on-site food delivery platform, PSFK gleans insights into applications of the service in the travel and hotel space, helping hungry guests connect with the food they want
•Bbot is a recently launched on-site ordering platform designed to help customers eating out focus on socializing and less on ordering. The app-enabled service works by letting customers order and pay for food within a restaurant or food hall instead of flagging down a server.
•The platform provides benefits like reduced wait, checkout and delivery times in addition to lower costs for food establishments and customers alike. Now, Bbot is turning to applications within the hotel space, where in-room sales have been declining, due to its ability to better match customers with the options they want from their favorite nearby spots.
•Previously PSFK caught up with CEO Steven Simoni to better understand the consumer behaviors driving a need for this type of service. This time, we take a look at how Bbot is poised to transform other kinds of hospitality experiences, like room service for travelers or bar experiences, where the system originally launched.
PSFK: How did Bbot start out, and how has it evolved since?
Steve Simoni: Bbot started as software and an overhead AI controlled delivery system that comes down to customers' table to deliver food and drinks. The original rollout was a nightclub in Cincinnati. It's like a server and bartender side kick: It delivers martinis, and it can do four in one run, no spill, because of machine learning. We sold two to the bar in Cincinnati.
We learned that while people thought the robot was cool, they really just loved to order more drinks on their phone. Some places would tell us, “I can't do the full robot, even though it's awesome. But can I just get the system and I'll have human runners?” I joke that we're like the only company that started with robots and evolved to using humans.
What other kinds of hospitality experiences is Bbot planning to disrupt?
We're working with hotels like Hilton Hotels Yotel or Melia in Manhattan to do in‑room dining. I didn't know this, because I don't come from the industry, but the operators tell me that in‑room dining sales have been declining. It's not efficient for them to have a person waiting by the phone for calling in orders from the room.
They're looking for a solution for that, so they're repurposed our software to basically put a little signage in the room, saying, “Hungry? Go to melia.menu or yotel.menu.” Type in your room number, and then anonymously order, pay, tip. No sign‑up, again. Those tickets print right in the kitchen, and then they run the order right up to the room. That's the hotel work we're doing.
Tell me more about how the company is growing and where you see Bbot in the next three to five years.
I think that it'll be hard to walk around Manhattan or Brooklyn without encountering it, based on our current pipeline and sales data. We signed deals with a lot of food halls, so we're going to be implementing those every week now over the summer around the country and in New York.
We have a couple of projects in some skyscrapers in New York that will be using their internal labor on off hours to do running for the food that's in the bottom of the skyscraper to the top offices. We'll be doing these office logistics, which is disruptive to the delivery companies, because that's really been their territory.
That's two new markets, but the core market is more Brooklyn Barges. That's where the product has the most impact: high-volume, sports bars, seasonals. It's going down the coast of America down to Miami, as many of them as we can hit.
Lead image: stock photos from Diego Cervo/Shutterstock