Within the food and beverage industry, the threat/promise of technology and the impact that will have has loomed large for some time.

At Amadeus, they have taken steps to push forward on technology, embracing the challenge and benefits to enable them to gain an advantage in winning and retaining business at their key venues.

Amadeus, in conjunction with developer Vertada, introduced a new Qjacker online ordering service in December 2015 to cope with the demands of feeding thousands of visitors at the Insomina56 Gaming Festival hosted by the NEC Birmingham.  

Qjacker enables customers to pre order their food, drink or merchandising from their own smartphone. From that point the opportunities to impress are endless, from the customer collecting their own coffee after getting off the bus before going into a conference, to ordering from their seat in the venues and collecting that product during the interval and having the product delivered to their seat.

One of the most critical components for the Insomnia event, which took place over four days, was having a service for the BYOC (Bring your own computer) community who are engaged in live games and competitions on a global scale throughout the event, to be able to order refreshments from 8am – 2am each day, without causing disruption to their play.

Amadeus used Qjacker to allow users to order food and drink delivered directly to their gaming stations. Working closely with NEC Group IT and Qjacker, Amadeus developed the application to suit the needs of the event – including design, build and testing – within eight weeks. Amadeus were the first customers of Qjacker to provide deliveries as all other live sites use collection points.

Operations Director, Tony Baldock, explains the importance of the introduction of the ground breaking service, “The level of detail required to get the finished solution just right was challenging but the planning and teamwork including IT, marketing, our service partners and suppliers helped make this venture a success. The event was only won in September so a three month turnaround for a brand new concept is phenomenal.”

“Allowing customers to order instantly rather than pre-ordering gave a different dimension to the event and was very important for the visitor experience.  The team offered exceptional service by following a pre-determined seating plan meaning we were able to find customers very quickly. The average time from order confirmation to personal delivery was just eight minutes.”

Tony added, “We also worked closely with the Insomina56 organisers to determine the demands of the community with the most important factors being portion size, quality of food and value for money. Normal operations were also in effect with our service partners extending their hours to support us, and we had an out of hours support team to ensure if we did have any issues they were resolved promptly as to not affect food service or customer experience.”

The results speak for themselves. Overall, the £30,316 revenue was taken from 2,912 orders, with spend per customer valued at £34.80 and each average order spend totalling £10.41. By 11am on the first day, more transactions had been processed than in three games at Old Trafford and the first slab of beer (24 drinks) had been purchased. The top foods ordered were chips (1,290), pizza (491) and burger with cheese and bacon (359).

In addition, to the Qjacker roll out, Amadeus are also investing in other, customer facing technology systems. All systems operate from a single back end and therefore complement each other and all link directly through to the back end payment and stock solutions. This allows the Amadeus management team a simple and single view of the venue requirements, live at every event.

The first solution is the use mobile ordering pads to queue bust at bars and retail outlets within Amadeus sites where customers are queuing for service during busy periods like concert or conference breaks, Starbucks queues and lunchtime food queues. From research, Amadeus have found that queuing does cause customer frustration which ultimately can stop them buying food and drink. The mobile POS so works with assistants “working” the queue to pre-take orders and pre-pay electronically so that when they get to the counter the food and drink order is ready to collect.

We can also use this to get customers to buy in one queue and then collect from a service point which is less busy as the technology enables assistants to see which outlet is less busy. In addition this can be used for a delivered food service for exhibition stands where the stand holder wants to provide food and drinks to both clients and staff but is unable to leave their stand.

The second solution offers customers the opportunity to take orders from the table in the pre-theatre, pre-concert or exhibition restaurants. Orders are then sent directly through to the kitchen or bar speeding up the whole process. During that time the service assistant never leaves the customer area, being on hand at all times to offer service and take orders from guests and to take payment.

This phase of the technology roll out at Amadeus will be complete by Summer 2016 but the plan is to continue to exploit and understand the role and benefits technology can bring to the customer experience.