SUPERB EXPERIENCES

The ultimate all-in-one guest experience management platform for premium restaurants is on a global rollout. Designed by Copenhagen tech startup Superb, the GXM platform brings AI analytics and unprecedented guest experience to the world’s finest restaurants.

By Kim Wyon

Two years ago, Superb launched the ultimate software for guest relations targeted at premium restaurants. Now, they’re rolling out the latest iteration of their Guest Experience Management platform (GXM) – a singular solution with which to fine-tune your restaurant, providing data-driven insights to turn great hospitality into profitable business. With hundreds of subscribing premium restaurants in 30 countries, Superb is not only the first company to offer an all-in-one package of integrated tools for top-line restaurants, they are also the only global player in their market.

IN THE DARK

You might not think the hospitality industry needs another new software solution, but it’s precisely the complexity and lack of compatibility among operational systems on the market that led a bright young business student in Copenhagen to launch an innovative guest relations solution – and become a high jumper among the city’s new IT startups.

“I was part of the early-stage management team at Joe and the Juice and noticed how the software tools we had at our disposal yielded no real insight into overall business activities – there was no compatibility and the data was simply lost. There was no way of predicting how busy a day would become either.

“Still, it was clear that the turnover was 25 percent higher on days when I was manning the juice bar, as opposed to days when I wasn’t there. There was something about the customer relations I had created that yielded better sales results, but I had no tools with which to pass this knowledge and knowhow on to my colleagues,” said Zaedo Musa, CEO and founder of Superb.

Today, two years on – and at the ripe age of 27 – he heads a bustling, youth-filled office on a busy artery in Copenhagen’s happening Vesterbro neighbourhood. When GUEST magazine dropped by, their portfolio of clients had reached premium restaurants (i.e. medium to high-end) in 30 nations, including such high-profiled establishments as Maaemo in Oslo, Sühring in Bangkok, and Osteria Francescana in Modena (Italy).

“Our first approach was to try and solve the compatibility issue so that key management systems, such as inventory, staffing and table reservation software, could be integrated. This turned out to be an unsurmountable challenge. We discovered that some of the more common systems were basically outdated, and we were surprised at the scepticism among the different providers.

“They were reluctant to grant us access to their systems despite our intention of adding value to their product. So, the only way forward was to build everything needed to run a premium restaurant into a whole new platform,” Musa says.

Zaedo Musa, CEO and founder of Superb. Nominated as one of Denmark’s top 100 young talents in 2019, a ranking hosted by Danish daily Berlingske.
The three-starred Michelin restaurant Maaemo in Oslo is one of hundreds of leading restaurants worldwide that uses the Superb guest experience platform (GXM).

A CLEAN SLATE

Wiping the technology slate clean also meant that the development team at Superb could create a whole new product that addressed some of the specific challenges of launching and managing a successful restaurant in the premium segment.

Seated at the office picnic-bench-slash-meeting-table, Musa says:

“People who open fine dining restaurants most often do so out of a great passion for offering the best of guest experiences. That doesn’t just apply to the food – which goes without saying – but especially to the hospitality. Sustaining such a business is a great challenge and requires business acumen and stamina – not just great cooking skills. Profit margins are often low and the overheads are considerable.”

The first step of the Superb venture was to launch the sleekly designed GXM platform that not only supports table reservations, but which also enables the sale of event tickets and gift cards as well as facilitating hotel room selection at the growing number of high-end restaurants that also offer boutique accommodation. But perhaps the most important tool is the opportunity for restaurants to build guest profiles for each individual diner.

“Fine restaurants have always made an effort to build relations with their guests but very often the information they store is on post-its, which easily get lost, or in the memory of the maître d’. These notes can now be digitalised in the guest profile which can optionally be shared with other users of the GXM platform.

“Knowing the preferences and penchants of a guest – including favourite wines – and other more statistical information, such as the value of their average purchase, will help sustain and grow relations with the customer and boost the all-important upselling.

“Equally, the restaurant gains insight into who their customers really are, allowing them to target their PR spending to where it really matters. Often, PR is aimed at gaining new customers rather than supporting relations with existing guests, which may not always be the most prudent choice. With guest analytics – what we call ‘guestlitics’ – restaurant-owners will gain a better understanding of who their customers are and can make more informed decisions of how to build guest relations,” Musa adds.

Arguably, with a growing market share among premium restaurants in Scandinavia, Superb has reached the critical threshold of offering analytics-driven business insights. As part of the Superb GXM platform, predictive modelling is used to second-guess the number of covers restaurants can expect to sell on a given day. But in a high-end dining segment with few walk-ins and where most in advance, does predictive modelling make sense?

“We have experienced that weather patterns and events have a measurable impact on the number of diners that premium restaurants can expect – and that predictive modelling proves more accurate than gut feeling. That is the feedback we are getting.

“And although high-end restaurants often find it difficult to quickly adjust their staffing – mainly consisting of hard-to-replace top professionals – then predictive information nonetheless does help them fine-tune their operations, reduce overheads and increase profit margins.

“We are not only very focused on assisting ambitious restaurants worldwide in developing their guest relations, we are equally very conscious of offering valuable customer service to our client restaurants – to create a personal relationship with the restaurants.

“One of the great advantages of analytics is that it offers insight into the trajectory of what restaurants can expect from their business in year one, two and three, so they can adjust their expectations and manage their inventories and staff rosters accordingly. Basically, we are offering the business tools necessary for any new premium restaurant to succeed,” Musa says.

One valuable customer service provided by the Superb team – one that has nothing directly to do with analytics – is the reduction of no-shows, which has been a growing issue in the restaurant industry for a number of years.

Not only can restaurants choose to optionally require guests to register their credit card information when making table reservations, the GXM platform even alerts restaurants when diners make multiple coinciding bookings at different restaurants. This way the restaurant staff can call up the person placing the reservations to clarify which of their bookings they will be requiring.

GLOBAL ROLLOUT

Although critical mass may now have been achieved in the Scandinavian market, what about the rest of the world?

“We are very conscious of the need to reach critical mass, and our focus has mainly been on Europe where our markets are quite varied. In some countries, like Italy, we are not competing against existing software solutions, but are offering an alternative to guest and business information penned by hand in a physical book!

“For these restaurants, the leap to using data-driven solutions is galactic. But although we are aiming for a general market share among premium restaurants of 70 percent, achieving critical mass isn’t just about gaining new restaurant subscribers to our platform; it’s also about enlisting a high number of guest profiles.

“Many diners at premium restaurants travel quite a lot and we are now able to follow their journeys. Insight into these profiles will help all our restaurant clients achieve greater sales and support upselling, although the individual restaurants can also make digital notes in the guest profiles that are not shared with other restaurants,” Musa explains.

With two years of startup experience and a recent injection of DKK 10 million in venture capital from PreSeed Ventures and Seed Capital, Superb is now ready to launch their updated platform. The first edition of GXM launched two years ago consisted of a variety of separate software tools.

These individual services have now been packaged into an all-in-one business software. The beta-version has been tested by 50 of their clients and the second-generation GXM platform is currently being rolled out among customers in all 30 countries in which they operate.

“The platform provides channels with which restaurants can reach out and develop their guest relations as well as manage daily operations. It offers inventory, staffing and liquidity stats – on the day. It supports billing, booking and upselling. Much like iZettle, it’s easy to set up. In fact, your business can be up and running in just one day – even if you don’t have a bank account yet.

No other platform offers a full package of integrated software tools for the high-end restaurant segment on this level – we’re the first and only provider. We have aimed to become a global player, and with almost no marketing budget – and purely word-of-mouth recommendation – we already are,” Musa concludes.

Restaurant SAV in Malmö was an early user of the Superb GXM platform, which helps them reduce the risk of no-shows and generate upselling. One of the most important features of the platform for the restaurant is the guest profiles, which allows the chefs to get to know the preferences of their guests before they even arrive.

Case story – Restaurant SAV

Among the early users of the GXM platform is restaurant SAV in Malmö. With an almost instant first Michelin star, SAV went from struggling startup to overnight success within months of opening.

GUEST Magazine gave Sven Jensen a call at his farmhouse restaurant SAV, which he runs with co-chef and co-owner Axel Fohlin. Located just outside Malmö, SAV opened in 2017 and was an early subscriber to Superb’s GXM platform when it was first launched. They rose to success within months, receiving their first Michelin star and a notable listing in the White Guide. We asked chef Sven Jensen how GXM has helped them manage their almost instant success.

TABLE RESERVATIONS

“Well, it all started very suddenly. We knew it would be make or break for us – and we opened in January, which in any case is a tough month in the industry. But three months later, we attended a White Guide gala in Stockholm where we were ranked among the top-30 restaurants – we’ve since risen to 14th place. At the time, we had five tables in the restaurant and one fixed daily seating – so just one no-show could wipe out a fifth of our earnings in an evening. We turned to Superb.

“They have a really cool-looking guest interface, which is important because for many people the experience starts long before they arrive at the restaurant – when booking a table. The platform also has an intuitive backend for restaurant operations – it’s just really easy.

“And what with guests being asked to register their credit card information beforehand, the risk of no-shows was reduced. Shortly after signing up with Superb, we were awarded a Michelin star – and there I was attending the gala in Copenhagen.

We received 300 bookings the next day. We immediately down-sized to four tables from five to offer an even more personalised experience. What has remained important since then is to have a table reservation system that can handle the logistics of the restaurant being booked solid six months ahead, which we still are today.”

GUEST PROFILES

“This is a very important feature for us. An evening at the Vindåkra farm is very intimate and personal. We still light the torches in the evening to greet arriving guests. And Alex and I not only prepare the menus, we also serve the dishes at the table.

“So, I run a background check on each and every diner – as best I can, using Google and the Superb guest profiles – to get to know a little about our guests before they arrive so we can give them the best total experience, which I believe is what we are about. That’s the most important thing.”

GIFT CARDS AND EVENTS

“I am quite amazed at the number of gift cards we have sold. I hadn’t expected that – hundreds still haven’t been redeemed. Of course, that’s a boost to the cash flow. We also have a number of summer events where we sell tickets via the Superb feature, and that works fine.”

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

“We’re part of the ‘Nordic wave’ in culinary terms. One important way we manage our inventory and save food waste is the methods we use, such as fermenting food items so we can serve them out of season.

“Alex’s father is a ‘forest hipster’ – he picks our unripe berries in Småland and forages for moss and mushrooms, which we also preserve. It’s all a very lean operation – we also have low staff overheads. There are only five employees at our restaurant, including the gardener – and our sommelier also clears the tables.

“We have one daily seating and only serve set menus – small and large – that guests pre-select when booking, which means we can plan ahead. And we also have information about any allergens beforehand. So perhaps the most important feature for our inventory management is an efficient table reservation system that minimises no-shows and allows guests to pre-select their menu choice.”