Honolulu happy hour app taps new beacon tech

June 6, 2014 7:26 am 1 comment

Image by Estimote BeaconHappy Hour Pal, a Honolulu-based startup, is the first business to deploy beacon technology into restaurants and bars throughout the state.

Happy Hour Pal is a searchable website and free GPS-based mobile app that allows people to save money while dining out, by locating happy hour specials in their area. Integrating beacon technology will make Happy Hour Pal even easier for users to identify nearby happy hour specials, and provide local businesses an effortless opportunity to engage directly with customers and increase awareness and sales during the most powerful internal promotion – happy hour.

Happy Hour Pal’s website and mobile app users can search for happy hour specials by food, drink, time, and location, and easily access happy hour menus and daily specials for each business. Users can share information via text message and email, and invite friends to join them for happy hour. Users can also earn points for rewards when they check in to a business on the app.

Happy Hour Pal offers local businesses – including current clients Nobu, Brasserie du Vin, Ruth’s Chris and Chef Chai – a membership program that promotes their happy hour menu to the right audience at the right time, and delivers meaningful analytics and a rewards program that makes happy hour even more profitable. Happy Hour Pal brings in new customers, and provides a detailed dining guide for foodies and socialites. Managers can view important real-time data such as the number of customer visits and demographics, to help fine tune their marketing efforts and increase sales.

The beacons emit a low-power Bluetooth signal to smartphones within about 250 feet, and transmit messages directly to smartphones or tablets, where GPS and WiFi aren’t always effective. Beacons allows apps to locate a user within a few inches, so that a phone can direct a driver to the nearest open spot in a parking garage or the shortest beer line in a crowded stadium. While this technology is still very new, restaurant customers could one day soon pay the check and leave without a waiter’s assistance or learn about new exhibits by walking past a museum. Beacon transmitters don’t track users – they only send out a signal, and don’t store information. Apps are programmed to respond to those signals, so that a retailer can send a coupon for cereal when a shopper is in the appropriate aisle, for example.

“With beacons, Happy Hour Pal app users can get information about specials and promotions on their phone immediately as they enter an establishment,” explains Chief Operations Officer and Happy Hour Pal co-founder, Brandon Bennett. “Our team has already deployed beacons to restaurants and bars across the state.”

“The beacons give our restaurant clients in Hawaii an easy, fun way to let people know about new menu items and specials,” explains Carey Bennett, Happy Hour Pal’s CEO and co-founder. “Mobile engagement with customers is key for today’s marketing outreach, and this technology will help us to expand our clients’ social network and give them additional feedback on the impact of their promotions.”

“Our family of establishments – Bar 35, eleven44 and Brasserie Du Vin – are excited about Happy Hour Pal’s beacon program,” says Operations Manager Miki Lee, one of Happy Hour Pal’s restaurant customers. “We were already loyal fans and early adopters of Happy Hour Pal. This new service is an added benefit and valuable marketing tool. The beacon does the selling for us, letting app users know about the night’s specials. Plus, we benefit from valuable demographic information about the customer that we might otherwise not have access to.”

Beacon technology is gaining popularity on the mainland since its launch in December 2013. Retail outlets are using the transmitters to share product information, flash sales and deals with customers and to speed checkout. Airports and ground transit hubs are looking at how beacons can provide travelers updated information on departures, delays and gate and platform assignments. This year, the San Francisco Giants implemented beacon technology to enhance the fan experience.

Happy Hour Pal currently has more than 50,000 app users, and well over 100 restaurant locations, including BLT Steak, Bar 35, Morimoto, The Study, Top of Waikiki, Mac 24/7, Sarento’s Waikiki, and Shokudo. The Honolulu-based team expanded operations to the Hamptons, New York and Portland, Oregon in 2013, and will launch in San Diego, California this month.

About Happy Hour Pal

Founded by Carey and Brandon Bennett, Happy Hour Pal is a Honolulu-based startup that provides restaurants with a mobile platform to market happy hour menus, specials, and reward programs. An up-to-date, searchable website and free GPS-based mobile app allows people to find the nearest happy hour specials either by location, food, drink, or time. Happy Hour Pal is a graduate of the second cohort of the Blue Startups accelerator. For more information, visit www.happyhourpal.com.

About Blue Startups

Blue Startups is a technology accelerator founded by Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Software (sole agent of Tetris®). Blue Startups concentrates on helping scalable-technology companies including Internet, software, mobile, gaming and e-commerce compete on a global scale. A member of the Global Accelerator Network, Blue Startups follows the Techstars mentor-driven accelerator model, reaching networks in Hawai‘i, Japan and the Silicon Valley. Blue Startups aims to become a nexus of entrepreneurial activity in Hawai‘i, and between Asia and Continental U.S. For more information, visit www.bluestartups.com.

Image by Estimote Beacons via Pocketnow.

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