“This led me to start thinking about other ways restaurants could combat the serious business challenges of declining margins and eroding direct customer relationships.”
Blackbird Labs, a hospitality tech company whose platform helps restaurants stay in touch with guests and incentivize them to dine out more frequently, today announced that it raised $24 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from QED, Union Square Ventures, Shine, Variant and others, as well as restaurant groups Quality Branded, Rustic Canyon Group, Soulva and Brooks Reitz.
It can be really expensive to remain at the top of a sea of competition. Operational costs are also at an all-time high, and restaurants need revenue.
There’s only two paths forward: creating new revenue streams or creating regulars who’ll want to come back.”
And restaurant failure rates aren’t exactly declining. Restaurants have about a 20% success rate, according to the NRA, with about 60% failing within the first year and 80% failing within five years of opening.
Blackbird is designed to help restaurants both amplify their reach and reward guests, Leventhal says
By giving operators a way to not only greet diners by name, but learn their personal preferences, including when they last dined out, their preferred seating and their likes and dislikes.
“With this knowledge, restaurants can serve guests in an unparalleled fashion, making them feel like they’re very important and appreciated regulars, and reward their ongoing patronage with free and appreciated perks,”
Blackbird does this by having diners touch their phone to a proprietary NFC reader to create a membership or “tap in.” Members can “level up” with each subsequent check-in, Leventhal says, unlocking benefits like off-menu items and a direct message concierge.
There’s a web3 component; the currency is technically a cryptocurrency.
Restaurants can also use Blackbird to message “top-tier” members with access to a dedicated support line, letting them know when a reservation is made available, for example.
Through Blackbird, restaurants can sell paid memberships to guests, as well.
“With Blackbird’s technology platform, we’ve built a unique, intimate and symbiotic relationship between restaurants and their regulars,” he added.
we’ve created Blackbird to be an easily accessible loyalty platform, empowering restaurants to have an unparalleled ability to engage customers, reward returning patrons and drive new revenue streams.”
Beyond this, Blackbird intends to experiment with its cryptocurrency, potentially offering membership upgrades, rewards for activity like tap-ins and ways to pay for parts of — or whole — meals.
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