We caught up with Dil Hussain, co-founder of mobile ordering tool Dines, to talk all things from streamlining processes for the hospitality sector to helping restaurants get back on their feet after COVID-19…
Tell us about Dines
Dines is a mobile ordering tool for the hospitality sector. We provide a simple and intuitive way for customers to order and pay for their meals and drinks, safely, from their own phones. Working with hotels, cafes, bars, sports clubs, events, festivals, theatres, venues, and of course restaurants, we support hospitality businesses across the entire spectrum and empower these venues with efficient ordering tools for both dine-in customers and collection orders.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
My family has been in the restaurant industry for decades, and I grew up working for the family restaurant business. I experienced first hand how fragmented the tech space is for dining in establishments, and how resistant the industry was to ‘losing the nature of hospitality’ when adopting tech. So I built Dines to bridge that gap, bringing the efficiencies and enhancements of using technology into the dining-in experience, whilst ensuring the experience remained as enjoyable as possible.
We launched Dines as an iOS and Android app in London that provided dynamically changing prices, similar to the variable pricing found in hotel bookings or airline tickets. This allowed operators to drive demand on their quieter times with discounted prices, redeemed effortlessly without voucher or coupons. Customers would simply pay through the app.
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How has the need for Dines evolved during the pandemic?
The lockdown was a painful but necessary measure, halting all operations for dine-in trade to support the need for social distancing. Our partner venues would be reopening post lockdown after months of no income, so the idea of promoting ‘discounting’ at off-peak times would no longer be the right play.
With social distancing reducing capacity already, margins are tighter than ever, so it becomes less about ‘filling empty seats’ for these venues, and more about making the most out of those that are seated.
So, with the Dines app already enabling slick contact-free payments, we took the decision to bring forward functionality we had in our roadmap for later in 2020/early 2021, and rapidly built a full ordering flow. Users can now order meals directly to their table/room number/theatre sea, etc., or order ahead for takeaway collections. Plus, we wanted to minimise any friction, so we replicated our native app experience on a fully functional web-app, letting users simply scan a QR code to order and pay, without being required to download a native app.
What can we hope to see from Dines in the future?
We’re supporting hundreds of hospitality businesses across the nation with our mobile ordering solution, and we’re looking forward to expanding our offering with a complete tech solution for our partners: Till systems, Bookings, Re-introducing our market-leading variable pricing technology, Loyalty and Rewards too. Overall, we’re looking forward to playing our part in bringing our nation’s beloved hospitality sector back into its prime once more.