October 19 2022  |  Airlines & Airports

SSP trials robotic tech to improve staff and guest experience

By Jane Hobson

SSP Group is trialling a robot service technology at Belfast International Airport

SSP Group is trialling a robot service technology to enhance staff and customer experience at Belfast International Airport. The trial – the first of its kind in SSP UK – sees six service robots deployed later this month at the Sip & Stone Restaurant and Bar.

Working with GW Robotics & Stephens Catering, SSP will test the effectiveness of the service robots to help servers with their day-to-day tasks, allowing them more time to focus on delivering outstanding customer service.

“Thanks to this innovative technology, colleagues will be able to spend more time with customers, answering customer needs and providing a memorable experience,” reads the October 19 press release from SSP.

Two types of robots will be introduced at Sip & Stone. A service robot called ‘BellaBot’ will bring food and drinks from the kitchen while ‘HolaBot’ will collect plates and cutlery once customers have left their tables. ‘HolaBot’ can be called remotely by colleagues to clear any section of the restaurant as necessary. Bella Bot is also equipped with a voice and screen system and can greet customers for a true human-robot interaction.

Richard Lewis, CEO SSP UK & Ireland, said, “Investing in new technology with a view to improving the customer experience is one of the core tenets of our business at SSP. The nature of our business means we serve a lot of customers, and we need to serve them quickly. These robots will enable our colleagues to spend more time front of house with our customers, ultimately improving their experience at our restaurants. We also want our customers to enjoy a unique, original experience. As always, we will be looking forward to receiving their feedback.

“Sip and Stone is a high-volume, family-friendly unit, welcoming large numbers of guests in short amounts of time. The restaurant setup means the robots will easily be able to assist colleagues and contribute to improving the overall dining experience, making it the ideal trial candidate. The information we gain from this trial will help to highlight the potential for development and improvement of standards both here at Belfast and ultimately at other restaurants around the UK and beyond.”

Brian Carlin, Director of Commercial Development at Belfast International Airport added, “This trial will allow customers to experience the latest technology that hospitality has to offer. The robots will deliver a faster service as well as enhanced cleaning, which will work hand in hand to improve the overall dining experience. We look forward to seeing the feedback from the trial, it certainly will be a welcomed addition and support for the Sip and Stone team and all of our customers.”

A similar trial is ongoing in Germany and an additional trial is scheduled in the UK for later this year, with views to continue trialing the robots in different types of units to better understand which lead to the most improved customer experience.

REGION Europe

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