But what if you wanted to meet your colleagues for lunch at your favorite fine dine restaurant? You could soon do that in a virtual experience being created by Taj hotels.
Indian Hotels, which owns the Taj group of hotels, has launched a new food delivery app called Qmin, which would soon allow you to order food for all your colleagues from your favorite Taj hotels restaurant and get it delivered at the same time, irrespective of the city they’re in.
“For virtual parties across cities, we would allow people to meet together and order from Qmin together and you can have a virtual background of our restaurants and music-enabled,” Akshay Tripathi – General Manager, IHCL, told ETCIO.
“We are enabling unique corporate orders through the app. With the feature of scheduled orders, you would be able to schedule food to be delivered in different locations at the same time to give you a sense of doing a meeting at the same place. All your colleagues could receive the food at the same time and can enjoy the meal jointly, just like you would do at any of our restaurants,” Tripathi said.
Tripathi explained the experience would be similar to having a virtual party that’s enabled by many existing apps but with a luxury touch to it. IHCL is looking at building the app internally.
A new business with zero investment
Hospitality business has been the worst hit with the Covid-19 related shutdowns across the world. Innovation, therefore, has become the key to survive. This is how IHCL’s new Qmin app came into existence.
“We are responding to unprecedented challenge. Covid-19 is the biggest black swan event of our lives. If people can’t reach out to us, we thought we should look at reaching out to them. There was supply available while demand took a massive dip,” Tripathi explained.
In first phase, iconic restaurants with their dishes will be offered through the Qmin app. It was launched on June 25 in an offline avatar and is now available in select cities. over the next few weeks, IHCL plans to scale up Qmin to other cities beyond Mumbai and Bengaluru.
“We’ve realized this can become a completely new business. Food delivery has been there for a long time and there are several apps already but all of them cater only to the casual dining space. We are entering this multi-billion dollar industry with a premium dining experience that we’ll enable to premium packaging and delivery experience,” Tripathi said.
Tripathi said when the group decided to build Qmin, the idea was to start new revenue source using technology but without spending too much. That’s when Rahul Nair – Corporate Director- Digital Transformation, IHCL came into the picture.
“We started with three guiding principles–to deliver a rich user experience, has to have the ability to scale, and adherence to the highest security protocol,” Nair explained.
But more importantly, Nair looked at how the app could be created without spending anything.
“We realized that we already had licences to Microsoft and Adobe platforms that could be used to build the app. We also had available cloud computing resources that could be leveraged. The model is very interesting because there is no capital deployed in this. We are deploying existing assets of kitchen, human resources etc.,” Nair said.
The only investment that was made was in hiring and training delivery staff to create a premium experience for the customer. But wven that cost will get offset soon given the dishes are priced the same as they are priced at the Taj restaurant and the group doesn’t have to incur the fixed costs of running a restaurant.
In phase one of the app, IHCL is trying to offer the app in most of the cities where it has its hotels. However, the company is looking at expanding the app’s offering to delivery newer experiences, one of which is the virtual dining experiences.
“Phase 1 is about restaurants and bringing about new geographies. There are some discussions of also having certain other products. Can we bring pictures of our restaurants featured, music from restaurants enabled? We will also look at consolidating at a cloud kitchen level,” Tripathi said.