A couple of Queenstown innovators have quickly come up with a perfect hospitality venue access solution to ensure Covid-19 hygiene and social distancing requirements are easily met without breaching privacy or causing any headaches.

Loaded Reports owners Richard McLeod and James Arnott’s newly launched Guest HQ phone app has been used by 2000 Kiwi businesses during lockdown, with 1000 hospitality businesses logging on since the country hit Level 3.

Guest HQ had clocked in 500,000 check-ins during lockdown alone, including some repeat check-ins to the likes of small supermarkets. Both original founders of the highly-successful Cook Brothers Bars, they are well versed in hospitality management and foresaw the major difficulties ahead for customers and venues in meeting Covid-19 safety registration requirements for contact tracing.

Designed at the start of lockdown, Guest HQ is a quick and efficient way for customers to register and access multiple venues hygienically from the same app without compromising their personal details.

“There are significant privacy issues with customers coming into your venues as every customer needs to be recorded on a register under the government’s mandatory Covid-19 requirements,” says Richard.

Customers have to give their full name, address, contact number and email address. “We’ve ensured those details are encrypted on our Microsoft cloud servers and are only ever provided to the Ministry of Health, if that should ever be required,” he says.

Most small businesses have no idea of the potential ramifications of dealing with people’s private details, says Richard, and Guest HQ protects that in a simple, one-size-fits-all standardised solution.

Customers head to the Guest HQ website, search and select the venue they want, and check in on their phone. Their name will appear with a large tick once they’re checked in and venue staff can instantly see they’re checked in.

 It’s a good  fit for everything from a one-barista coffee outlet to a large bar and with Level 2 hopefully just around the corner Richard and James are expecting even more of an uptake. They’re providing the app free to small businesses, with larger ones like supermarkets able to pay for added features, like branding or messaging, specific to their businesses.

Queenstown raised

Farro’s, Huckleberry and a number of bottles stores have also been on board during lockdown’s Level 3 when the advent of ‘click and collect’ prompted a huge uptake from cafes and restaurants.

Both raised in Queenstown, Richard and James are working hard to use Queenstown as a case study for Guest HQ, getting as much penetration into the local market as possible. “With New Zealand being seen as a world leader in flattening the curve for Covid-19 and, by association, for our products and solutions, this country is gaining a reputation,” says Richard.

Their aim is get a high number of customers back dining and shopping without complications by driving those solutions. “The more we can build Queenstown as a case study the more attention and traction it can gain overseas,” he says.

Guest HQ is already turning heads overseas with significant interest from former software executives in reselling the app in the United Kingdom with an agreement imminent. They’ve already got New Zealand companies using Guest HQ in at least 25 sites in Australia, including Rodd & Gunn stores throughout Australasia. “We’re in the process of appointing a key account manager to manage Australia,” says Richard.

Both original founders of the highly successful Cook Brothers Bars, which owns 13 hospitality outlets around New Zealand, Richard and former partners Dave and Ben Bulling, sold out to James in 2018. James and Richard continue to own Loaded Reports, a cloud based hospitality management system developed during Cook Brothers days, mostly by James, who has a technology bent.

Well accustomed to the trials of launching and operating hospitality businesses, Loaded Reports simplified the Cook Brothers management systems. It integrates Point of Sale to capture real time sales information and labour and cost of goods management. It also takes care of budgeting and tracking cash-ups and generating reconciliation reports. Loaded now has 700 Kiwi clients.

Loaded owns Guest HQ with their tech investor partner and former Cook Brothers chairman Tur Borren, as well as a handful of other investors. “We’ve always embraced technology to assist us in trying to be more efficient,” says Richard. “It’s been a big part of Cook Brothers, ensuring good systems and process.” He says Loaded will be more important than ever with venues needing to manage their labour and food and beverage costs. Free trials of Loaded have also been extended until the country drops to Level 1 to help out operators.

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