Food and beverage operator, SSP, is trialling a robot service technology at Belfast International Airport. The pilot will involve six service robots being deployed at the Sip & Stone Restaurant and Bar to enhance colleague and customer satisfaction.

SSP is partnering with GW Robotics & Stephens Catering to test the effectiveness of using the service robots to help servers with their day-to-day tasks, allowing them more time to focus on delivering outstanding customer service. The innovative technology will enable staff to spend more time with customers, answering their needs and providing a memorable experience.

Two types of robots will be deployed: A service robot called BellaBot to deliver 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 staff to clear any section of the restaurant, while BellaBot is equipped with a voice and screen system and can greet customers as they enter the restaurant.

“Investing in new technology with a view to improving the customer experience is one of the core tenets of our business at SSP,” said Richard Lewis, CEO SSP UK & Ireland. “These robots will allow our colleagues to spend more time front of house with our customers, ultimately improving their experience at our restaurants.”

As a family friendly eatery with a high-volume of diners, Sip and Stone is an ideal venue to trial the robots. The setup means the robots will easily be able to assist human colleagues and contribute to improving the overall dining experience.

Brian Carlin, Director of Commercial Development at Belfast 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.”

A similar trial is ongoing in Germany with an additional trial scheduled in the UK later this year.

SSP expands in Sweden

Meanwhile in Sweden, SSP has agreed a deal with airport operator Swedavia to open a total of 18 food and beverage (F&B) and convenience store outlets at Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter airports.

With Arlanda’s clearly defined vision of the future customer journey, SSP’s offer has been shaped to meet the needs of an evolving passenger demographic. Families and leisure travellers in younger age groups now account for an ever-larger percentage of passengers,¬† which has resulted in SSP developing a new approach to F&B brand development.

The food and beverage operator’s offer has also been designed to support the sustainability aspirations of Stockholm Arlanda, which is one of the first European airports to achieve net zero CO2 emissions.

“The 18 new restaurants, bars and cafes opening at Arlanda will play a major role in this exciting new marketplace area currently being developed in collaboration with SSP,” said Charlotte Ljunggren, Director of Marketing and Sales at Swedavia.

The first section of this new marketplace¬† is scheduled to open in summer of 2023 and once complete will measure approximately 11,000 sq.m. “With restaurants appealing to a variety of tastes and needs, SSP has curated a range of fine dining and casual eating concepts alongside cafes and grab and go unit, designed to achieve exactly this.”

At Gothenburg Landvetter, SSP will be opening premium hamburger concept Bastard Burger – a popular brand across Sweden. It has also developed a new coffee concept for the airport, called Fika, which has been designed to evoke authentic Swedish cafe culture.

“We have a long-standing relationaship with SSP and are thrilled to see this continued investment to develop their concepts at both Arlanda and Landvetter,” added Ljunggren. “This is a wonderful next step in our relationship, working together to offer travellers an even larger and wider selection of F&B options, appealing to new and changing traveller demographics in a modern, vibrant environment.”

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