SSP trials six service robots at Belfast Airport

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SSP Group is to trial six service robots at the Sip & Stone Restaurant and Bar at Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland to improve the staff and passenger experience.

Two types of robots will be introduced at Sip & Stone. A BellaBot service robot will bring food and drinks from the kitchen while a 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. BellaBot is equipped with a voice and screen system and can greet customers.

The trial will begin at the end of October 2022 and is intended to test the effectiveness of using the service robots to help servers with their day-to-day tasks. Working with GW Robotics & Stephens Catering, SSP expects colleagues to be able to spend more time with customers, answering their needs and providing a memorable experience.

A similar trial is ongoing in Germany and an additional trial is scheduled in the UK for later in 2022, with plans to continue trialing the robots in different types of units to better understand which one leads to the most improved customer experience.

Richard Lewis, CEO of the UK and Ireland division of SSP Group, 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 & 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 & Stone team and all of our customers.”

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