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Food-Ordering Grab App Launches at NWA Airport

3 min read

Grab, a mobile app that saves passengers time by allowing them to pre-order meals for pick-up from airport restaurants, launched last week at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Bentonville.

The free mobile app is available at 112 restaurants in 15 airports (including XNA) nationwide. Three eateries at XNA — Auntie Anne’s, Core Brewing Company and Smokewood American Grill — are on board, Grab says.

The app is compatible with both Android and Apple phones.

Users can view menus and wait times, place or hold and pre-pay for orders through the Grab app on their phones, according to a news release. They can also skip the line by picking up their orders at a separate to-go counter, use a terminal map to see what is available and get gate-to-gate navigation through the app.

Grab CEO Mark Bergsrud told Arkansas Business that users save an average of 10 minutes, though that varies depending on the restaurant meals are being ordered from.

Although the airport in northwest Arkansas is in a smaller city, it has a lot of corporate travelers who would benefit from Grab, he said.

XNA says it has seen 86,636 to 105,107 passengers monthly in the first four months of this year.

Bergsrud said, “This product will be very, very valuable to time-constrained travelers and will be addictive once the network is built out.”

Travel retail and restaurant operator Paradies Lagardère of Atlanta, the North American division of world leader Lagardère Travel Retail, was a launch partner.

Jason Schulz of Paradies Lagardére said it was hoping the app would increase restaurant sales by 2 to 3 percent.

There are already signs in place, and XNA passengers will be given cards to let them know that service is available, he said.

Paradies Lagardère Senior Vice President Bill Casey said in the release, “Grab not only allows us to better serve busy travelers in Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, but we will be adding all of our locations soon, including our new restaurant locations this summer in Austin–Bergstrom International, where we’re expanding our dining offerings to include new national and local brands.”

Bergsrud said customers can see more on a mobile menu than is on a traditional menu board and studies have shown that makes them more likely to add to and customize their orders.

He noted that a study involving Taco Bell found there was a 20 percent increase in sales from people using a mobile ordering app rather than placing an order the traditional way. 

Travelers are also less likely to skip a meal because they don’t know how long the wait will be, Bergsrud said. “Time and money are related in airport businesses,” he said.

Though users don’t pay for the app, Grab charges a fee to the eateries for each transaction.

Bergsrud also said Grab is working toward integration with other popular travel apps, such as the American Airlines app, so that people don’t have to download the Grab app separately. It’s already integrated with Concur, allowing users to submit business expense reports without having to take a picture of the receipt or keep up with the paper receipt.

He said Grab is also easy to use for restaurant workers and offers a way to improve customer experience. Restaurant workers could soon see mobile customers’ pictures and names on a tablet so that they can great the customers when their orders are picked up.

The first launching of the app was in October. Though Bergsrud wouldn’t disclose early numbers, he said the company was encouraged by them.

“We’ve been very pleased by the customer feedback we’ve been getting, by the growth in the usage, by the growth of the network,” he said.

Bergsrud also said Grab is focused on expanding its network so that users have confidence that the app will provide value to them wherever they go.

It’s also solving the inefficiency problem for eateries and the challenge to customers of every restaurant having its own app, he said.

Bergsrud is a former senior vice president of marketing for Continental Airlines and added that a unique aspect of Grab is that its team has extensive travel experience. They understand more about what passengers need than a typical devolper of customer apps would, he said. 

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