Untappd and parent company Next Glass have made a ton of moves this year to help beer businesses pivot during the pandemic. They created gregslist as a central hub for contact-less delivery and pickup services. They partnered with Half Time Beverage on a virtual festival concept. In October, they acquired direct-to-consumer sales platform Oznr. And now, they’ve partnered with SevenRooms, a fully-integrated, data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry, to help Untappd for Business customers looking to add a reservations /wait list tool at a big discount.
Prior to the pandemic, a majority of restaurants and bars operated their reservations systems manually. Capacity limits have created a new need for streamlined ticketing and communication systems to allow businesses to operate efficiently. By providing access to SevenRooms’ CRM-driven platform, Untappd for Business is providing restaurants and bar owners with an advanced system to maximize revenue and enhance the customer experience.
We chatted with Untappd / Next Glass CEO Trace Smith last week to learn more about this partnership and the possibility to tie all of these various platforms and services together. Here is part one of that conversation.
CBB: Well, hey, thanks for taking the time. So Untappd is partnering with SevenRooms, an integrated, data-driven, guest experience platform. What is the extent of the partnership? And if I’m an Untappd for business customer, how do I take advantage of it?
Smith: Our customer support and customer success teams have had pretty persistent questions from our customer base about, hey, I’m a brewery that has never had to think about taking reservations before. We’re a bar that has never had to take a waitlist. So, they’re coming to us saying, hey, we’d love Untappd for Business to help, what do you recommend for wait-listing, for reservations, for paying?
We’ve known the team at SevenRooms and felt like their platform was a nice compliment to what we do. We felt like we could work something out. Their solution can benefit our customers and vice versa. And we felt right now, our customers need their solutions maybe more than theirs needed our solution. So let’s start this way and put together this discount scheme for our customers to be able to use the SevenRooms technology to help them really streamline their operations.
CBB: Can you get into the details of the discount scheme at all? How it’s set up and, I don’t know how robust or how much of a discount it is? For how long, a period of time?
Smith: Yeah, it’s different based off which features you end up adopting. There’s different components to it based on if you use the full CRM platform or if you use just the waitlist platform.
Chris: Okay. Yeah. I did wonder because it seemed like a super robust platform and for maybe some of the smaller breweries they just need a tiny portion of it.
Smith: That was a big piece of our conversations with SevenRooms. I mean, SevenRooms is an incredibly versatile comprehensive management system for venues. But they’ve always had a flexible product that works across all types of hospitality businesses. The SevenRooms platform is built for single-unit operators all the way up to multi-unit, international hospitality groups and already has some brewery clients of its own.
CBB: Within that slimmer portion, what are some niche features or things that you specifically like about what it does do?
Smith: I think those are the two primary features that we’re excited about. The wait-listing solution that allows you to kind of put your name down and then it’s all communicated by a text to you, when your seating option is available and when you can return. Because, especially this winter, and this is one of the real catalysts for getting this in place when we did, you’re losing patio seating. Now they’re having to figure out, okay, how do we not turn customers away? Because the last thing any on-premise venue wants to do during COVID is turn customers away. This allows you to communicate with the customer effectively, without them having to queue up in a line that’s 45 people deep in 20 degree weather right?
The reservation management tool works fairly similarly, but again, you’re getting a slimmed down offering if you’re one of our customers that doesn’t need kind of the full guest experience CRM platform.
And I think a lot of this is going to stick right? With more outdoor dining, more flexibility on customers being able to move around indoor or outdoor, unique offerings, like private seating, chef’s table type stuff, and some of these breweries with kitchens are creating more space, more seating capacity. I think some of that’s going to stick in and the more robust solution might be a really good way to manage that. Should the operations of a venue look differently post COVID than they did in February of 2020 before for COVID really hit.
CBB: Yea, the SevenRooms platform, in full, has a lot of really interesting features of it. What else do you think a brewery could use, if they see beyond just managing their waitlist and reservations? Like the guest profiles, there’s so much cool stuff.
Smith: Yeah. I think the guest profile is pretty cool right? The first example that’s popping into my head in Charlotte, is Legion Brewing. So they’ve got two taprooms, they’re opening more. And so I think about myself as a customer, right? I work close to downtown near where they’re opening a new taproom. I live near their SouthPark taproom. And so if I’m a customer and they know that, here are the types of beers I like, or here’s where I like to sit, or this is the food that I typically order, or this is what time I’m normally showing up. They know that about me, so I’m going to have a better guest experience regardless of whether I’m at taproom downtown or out in the suburbs.
I think the guest profiling is certainly interesting to these breweries that have multiple taprooms at a certain location. Being able to really run back of house more intelligently so that online reservation system, now having that for hosts and hostesses to be able to curate or tailor that guest experience, I think that this enables that in a way that a lot of breweries could use if they’re thinking about the guest experience.
CBB: Are there any other plans or functionality added within the Untappd for Business ecosystem? Because you’ve also acquired Oznr which manages to-go sales and memberships. Are you trying to tie all these things together at some point?
Smith: I think one thing that we’ve heard from our customers is a mandate to tie these point solutions together. I think you definitely are keying in on something that’s important there. For starters with SevenRooms, no — this was something that we felt we could do to meet our customers’ needs and help them get a nice discount. That’s really good functionality from an awesome company, but there’s not integrations between Untappd for business and SevenRooms.
But I do think once our product and engineering teams get to lift their heads and think about the post-COVID roadmap, to be sure, I think there’s some really cool things that we could do tying guest profiling to Untappd profiles, for example, where I am a customer that’s walking into this taproom and SevenRooms knows that I’m an IPA drinker. But right now I think they and we are both drinking from a fire hose just trying to help our customers to cope
I do think you’re going to see rich integrations with Oznr. It really is a leader in DTC technology in the craft beverage industry, and it will always be its own platform, but I look at Oznr as the DTC commerce hub within Next Glass. I think that it clearly benefits from being in the same organization as Untappd and BeerAdvocate. Right now we’re allowing Oznr customers to promote their offerings on Untappd and BeerAdvocate. So, if there’s a special release that they want to promote or a membership that they want to promote, and certainly we’re giving some social media promotion to certain offerings on Untappd and BeerAdvocate platforms. But I think there’s some really cool things that we can do down the road where if I’m a customer or if I’m an Untappd user that is just checked into BeerAdv, if your brand is available on Oznr, to be able to buy it through Oznr via Untappd.
You’ll see more of that. I mean, we’ve just closed the acquisition of Oznr but certainly we’ve thought about framing up, why does this make sense? Oznr, is a young business that really needed access to eyeballs because that’s what their brewer partners are demanding. And luckily, that’s a problem that we can solve. So it made a lot of sense.