The free Grab app wants to give travelers the ability to do mobile ordering at the airport. It launched the service at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with mobile ordering in the airport’s Concourses D and T.
Travelers will initially have access to 18 restaurants in at Hartsfield-Jackson and 14 restaurants at Austin-Bergstrom airports in facilities operated by launch partner Delaware North. Some of the participating restaurants include Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, JayZ’s 40/40 Club, Food Network Kitchen and Grindhouse Killer Burgers in Atlanta. Austin restaurants include Ray Benson’s Roadhouse, Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar, Saxon Pub and Annie’s Café.
Customers can order from their mobile devices, skip lines and go to designated airport pick-up locations where their items are waiting for them. Grab also offers searchable directories and maps of restaurants, retail stores and airport services.
Grab grew to offer mobile ordering at more than 110 restaurants in 15 airports and partnered with companies including Delaware North and Paradies Lagardère. In July 2016, Grab announced a major partnership with airport food concessionaire HMSHost to allow the app to be used in 80 more airports, covering 300 brands in 2,000 restaurant locations. And in September, it announced that Areas, Concessions International, Creative Food Group, Midfield Concession Enterprises and Star Concessions joined the Grab platform.
Mark Bergsrud, a former marketing executive at Continental and United Airlines and Grub’s CEO, said the idea for Grub came from a simple conversation. “After leaving United, I was thinking about what I wanted to do when I got a call from Jeff Livney, Grub’s cofounder. He originally said he wanted to do something with food delivery at the airport,” he said.
After talking, the concept moved away from delivery, said Bergsrud. “We quickly figured out that this was a mobile business, day-of-travel product,” he said. “So we built a mobile app that serves as a platform for services at the airport so we can aggregate that content and distribute it to as many passengers as possible. We want to make as many connections between travelers and airport businesses as possible. Retailers get access to millions of customers and passengers get the services they need.”
Grab is in negotiations to embed its app into an airline app, said Bergsrud. “A standalone app is good, but there are really good things you can do within an airline app. Plus it’s also better that customers don’t have to deal with too many different apps,” he said.
The Grab app offers a directory of available restaurants, retail and services at airport, said Bergsrud. “These are all listed at the 40 airports, and are searchable by categories or by terminal,” he said. “And Grab can tell you what’s near your gate.”
Grab launch customer Delaware North is located in 16 airports, said Bergsrud. “What’s important is that their processes don’t have to change. They can use their existing POS systems to capture customer orders,” he said. “While they’re on their plane, travelers can search for food option and either purchase it or put their order on hold.
“Restaurants can focus on making food, customers pay via their smartphones and pick up their food at a Grab-branded stand. We don’t charge your card until you pick up your food,” said Bergsrud.
There are great restaurants that are small properties where it’s difficult to build a large base of customers, said Bergsrud. “For example, [Hartsfield-Jackson’s] One Flew South is a great restaurant and what we give them is the huge access they need to build their business,” he said.