The re-opening of restaurants and bars is a welcomed development following the hardships brought on by the pandemic. Yet, many establishments across the U.S. are finding it difficult to attract and maintain adequate staffing.
Similar to the automation boom that has accelerated over the past 18 months in the warehouse sector, interest in automated self-pour systems is growing in the restaurant and hospitality sectors.
Self-pour beverage system provider PourMyBeer launched in 2015, and now boasts 8,000 taps in 24 countries.
Last September, the Chicagoland-headquartered company announced that Coca-Cola European Partners had acquired a 25 percent stake in PourMyBeer with an aim to introduce self-pour dispense technology to customers in Western Europe, beginning with a trial in Spain.
After the implementation of the PourMyBeer system an establishment can typically operate with 50 percent less staff than they would need with a traditional set-up, noted Marketing Director, Tana Rulkova.
The all-important customer service and interaction that customers expect in a restaurant or bar is not compromised, and most times is enhanced, as staff has extra time to devote to customers because they are not having to pour beers (or free samples), open wine bottles or mix cocktails, according to Rulkova.
Many establishments appoint a “Beverage Wall Ambassador” to educate customers on the various craft beers, wines, cocktails or other beverages, offer suggestions, and provide friendly interaction just like a bartender.
In addition, customers like the variety and flexibility of pouring their own beverage, especially when they can sample a lot of different beers or wines.
PourMyBeer’s top 10 clients all offer at least 30 taps, said Rulkova. When customers come into an establishment offering this much variety, and customers can choose what they want to sample, or perhaps opt for several half-glasses, it’s a real “wow effect” for them and eliminates the occasional disappointment of ordering a beverage and not liking it.
Furthermore, after implementing a self-pour system, establishments find that customers tend to spend more.
In one client case study, the average customer spent $23, roughly the cost of 3 to 4 beers at the establishment. While only about 30 percent of the establishment’s customers chose to pour full glasses and not sample beverages by the ounce using the self-pour system, the remaining 70 percent poured themselves a half-glass or less, resulting in customers tasting between 6 to 8 beers per visit.
Rulkova noted that customers in the 30- to 55-year-old age range are most attracted to self-pour beverage systems and tend to spend more at establishments that feature them, compared to college-aged consumers who sometimes cannot afford to pay for typically pricier craft beer, or older customers who may not be as open-minded about interacting with new technology.
Restaurants, bars, taprooms and breweries comprise the largest share of PourMyBeer’s clients. Other client venues include hotels, airports, military bases, grocery stores, golf courses and cruise ships, among others.