Kallpod's devices are now in Live Nation and Aramark venues. (John Tsiavis)
Kallpod’s simple-to-use three-button server-summoning devices are now in more than 50 Live Nation amphitheaters and in club level and box seating areas at many of the sports venues that Aramark serves.
“We’ve all had the same experience,” said Kallpod’s co-founder and chief operating officer, Steven Barlow, who formerly covered the restaurant space as a Merrill Lynch analyst. “We’re at a concert or a sporting event and want something to eat or drink but don’t want to miss the show and go out and stand in a long line.”
“Waiting for a server to show up can also be really annoying,” he said. “Everyone can relate to not wanting to wait, and many venues miss a huge opportunity by making guests either go line up for another round or wait and flag down the server.”
While simply maddening for many guests, Barlow and partner Gabriel Weisz saw an opportunity. The pair founded Kallpod in 2014 to fill the gap in communication between hospitality service staff and the customer.
“I have a good understanding of how challenging it is to run a food and beverage operation from a service perspective,” Barlow said. “Many businesses lose a great deal of business from guests who want to order more product but have a hard time doing it.”
Kallpod’s customizable platform improves labor costs and increases sales through streamlined, real-time communication between guests, service staff and internal teams, he said.
“We’re currently in over 600 venues,” Barlow said. “Half of our business is the hotel side; the other piece is stadiums, amphitheaters and convention centers.”
Kallpod’s hotel customers include well-known names such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Four Seasons, Fairmont and MGM Resorts International. Lobbies and cabanas are some of the areas in the hotels where Kallpod’s devices have been most effective. Now their venue business is growing rapidly, Barlow said.
Live Nation signed up for service in late 2017 after its food and beverage director, Brian Hart, saw Kallpod’s at the tables in a Hilton hotel restaurant in San Diego, Barlow said. Aramark became a partner earlier this year.
Aramark venues where Kallpod devices are in use include Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and Florida Aquarium, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium and the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
The devices are simple, with only three buttons on the current device.
“The devices are customizable,” Barlow said. “Most customers want a ‘call server’ button, an ‘another round’ button and a ‘check, please’ button.”
Also customizable is the shape, style, and even whether the device is made from glass, wood, marble or another material. “We can tailor the devices any way the customer wants,” he said. “We provide the solution from programming to custom configuration. We also provide ongoing support. It’s an all-encompassing service solution.”
Kallpod’s business model is also simple: The company contracts with a venue for multiple years and there’s a monthly service fee, determined by the amount of equipment brought in and the sophistication of the programming.
Plans are underway for a second-generation platform, to be launched in the third or fourth quarter.
“The current model runs off of radio waves, and the new model will run off Wi-Fi,”
Barlow said. “The new device will also have expanded capabilities like enhanced metrics and tracking and mobile ordering.”