A busy Friday night, every table’s full, the bar’s three deep, and it’s impossible to catch the eye of the waiter as he carries piles of plates from the pass to the patrons. As Australia’s hospitality sector roars back to life post lockdown and also navigates a major labour crisis, me&u offers a mobile ordering and payment platform that’s proving the perfect solution.
me&u’s cloud-based ordering and payment platform works with a customer’s smartphone – stripping out friction and frustration. In addition to enhancing customer experiences, the solution provides important data to allow venues to tailor customer-specific services and in the process boost their revenues by as much as 30 per cent.
The idea for the platform came to founder Stevan Premutico during the brief break he took after selling online reservation platform Dimmi to TripAdvisor in 2015. Whilst walking the Camino de Santiago (a medieval pilgrim route in Spain) the idea for me&u formed…there had to be a better, more sustainable future for hospitality; a future that was free of hassle where the customer could spend more time connecting with family and friends around the table – the reason they were there in the first place.
Today me&u is used in more than 1,000 venues including major hospitality groups such as Merivale, Pacific Concepts, Solotel, Howard Smith Wharves and ALH. Almost 10 million customers have used me&u to tap on and place an order.
Venues that partner with me&u install a beacon that connects through to me&u on either the progressive web application – no app required – or the me&u app on customers’ phones through an NFC chip or a scanned QR code. In-built intelligence then tailors the menu displayed on the phone according to time of day and knows where someone is sitting and then allows customers to order and pay immediately. Rather than hold payment information itself me&u interfaces with a number of popular payment platforms and credit cards and also integrates with a venue’s existing point of sale system.
Kishan Modi, Chief Product Officer, me&u says; “It’s faster, it’s more seamless, and we are already showing that customers spend about 30 per cent more on me&u than at the bar because it’s easy to tap and easy to order. Not only is it super smart in the hands of the consumer on their mobile device, there’s a bunch of stuff that me&u is doing back of house, with bar staff, with chefs to make sure that operationally they can actually keep up with the orders such as the ability to add wait times on items and categories, or even remove a category from the menu all together – real time and direct the customer to order from available options.”
Modi adds that machine learning is being used to ensure that customers see the most relevant information. For example if a customer only adds drinks to their cart Quick Sells on me&u provides relevant food options and snacks that are most likely to be ordered.
In the future, machine learning analytics will be used to note that in the past a customer has ordered sweet potato fries – but never the calamari – allowing menus to be shaped based on previous preferences.
Justin Hemmes, CEO of Sydney based Merivale has invested in me&u and also deployed the system in a range of his venues. He’s heralded me&u as; “The key that will unlock the future of hospitality and how we look after our customer on an individual basis.”
One of Australia’s largest hospitality precincts, Howard Smith Wharves, is also onboard. According to Founder/Director Adam Flaskas; “I couldn’t imagine not using the me&u software.
Clementine Churchill, Head of Marketing for me&u says; “You know we used to live in a world where it would take 15 minutes to get a taxi, but now you can get an Uber in two minutes. It doesn’t make sense that I would have to wait 15 minutes in a line just to get a glass of wine on a Friday night.”
A further challenge facing hospitality venues is finding and keeping skilled staff, says Churchill. She says me&u can help even staff-strapped venues continue to deliver exceptional service for customers.
Modi says that during pandemic related lockdowns many venues took the opportunity to review operations and explore how technology could be used to streamline the business when they were able to open their doors to customers once more. It led many to me&u’s door.
Developed on Microsoft Azure and leveraging Cosmos DB, the me&u app has been embraced by some of Australia’s leading restaurants and hotels, and thanks to Azure’s global footprint is now also being deployed in the US and UK.
Lizelle Hughes, Director of SaaS and ISV Partnerships at Microsoft ANZ, says; “me&u has created a hospitality game-changer with this application – and because of its design and Microsoft Azure foundations it’s a game changer that can go global.
“Yes, there will be some modifications needed for different markets – for example in the UK the app has had to be tweaked so that it’s GDPR compliant – but the fundamental design of the platform has international potential.
Azure scalability and elasticity have also been essential to handle the bursty nature of hospitality where a business that is closed on a Monday and quiet on a Tuesday can suddenly be deluged with customers on the weekend.
That was magnified when restaurants were able to open their doors after lockdowns. Modi says; “We saw about 300 per cent growth weekend to weekend,” adding that me&u liaised with the Microsoft developer team to ensure that the way the system was designed would allow it to autoscale on Azure when demand peaked.
“It almost feels like we go from an average Toyota Yaris and that’s OK on a Monday to a sports car on a Saturday and it just has to ramp up and get there and then ramp down again because I don’t need to be a Ferrari every single day of the week and these tools help us get there.
“Microsoft helped us heavily in this space, and I now feel like we’ve got expertise across the business. We can now hand on heart say that we’re not going to have any database issues or failures,” he says, adding that the “amazing product build on Microsoft in Australia” is now expanding on the world stage.
For a sector that suffered more than most during lockdowns, me&u is proving the fast track to a brighter future.