Sestra Systems brings the Internet of Things to the pour

STERLING, VA—Ask a bartender to pour 10 glasses of beer or wine, and it is likely that each contains a different amount of beverage. An underpour won’t affect the bottom line, but an overpour takes a bite out of revenues each and every time.

According to Sestra Systems, based here, a single ounce of overpour on a glass of wine loses a venue 20% of revenue on that bottle. A couple of ounces of overpour on a glass of beer can cost thousands of dollars per year.

Sestra has created a smart dispensing system, TapWise, that turns taps into connected devices with programmed portion control, point-of-sale (POS) integration and real-time analytics.

The idea for TapWise, according to Sestra Systems’ COO/founder Kim AuBuchon, was born after a client “asked us to help find a smart solution to control the pour size and drive ROI on their wine pours.”

She continued, “As a result, we created the first iteration of TapWise. Because of our extensive backgrounds and experience in the technology sector, we took a unique approach to the market and created a global, cloud-based platform to deliver unprecedented control.”

The TapWise solution can be used in hotel bars and restaurants, as well as banquets and catering operations. And for those properties without full-service bars, “Sestra Mobile Bars create an experience where staff can engage guests for complimentary or retail service around the clock with minimal labor investment,” noted AuBuchon. “Our platform offers a seamless, self-serve experience by integrating with existing systems such as room keys, loyalty programs and property management systems.”

She continued, “Mobile TapWise bars, with no set up or tear down necessary, are rolled out for meetings, events and banquets with the ability to quickly handle large volumes with consistent quality and portion control. Events conclude with consumption-based analytics and reporting delivered to the customers’ fingertips. Gone are the days of setting up tables with bottles; hauling ice and ice bins; counting bottles before and after events; and being left with open bottles at the end of the night, only to be poured down the drain.”

Another important feature for F&B managers is Sestra’s Remote Station Manager (RSM), which makes it easy to lock and unlock taps from anywhere using a mobile phone. Stations can be set on automated schedules, according to AuBuchon. “For example, it’s easy to program 8-oz. cold-brew coffee to begin flowing for morning lobby service, while the beer and wine taps stay locked until happy hour,” she said. “At the end of the day, all taps go into locked mode for overnight hours. Preventing unauthorized access to taps, especially in high-traffic hotel spaces, adds needed security.”

Likely the most important feature for revenue managers is Sestra’s cloud-based analytics engine, which can report on pours, keg changes and other important beverage data. “[The analytics engine] enables smarter inventory management and insightful program analytics, bringing beverage programs into the 21st century,” said AuBuchon. “This data is immediately available to customers via a portal and daily emails. Servings by venue, station and line can be reported by time of day, day of week and month. Beverage mix, inventory used and demand trends help clients predict inventory needs.”

TapWise dispenses both carbonated and still beverages. “So far, the biggest demand has been for beer and wine, but other beverages such as kombucha, cold brew and seltzers are also becoming popular,” she said.

The Internet of Things (IoT) solution has been installed in hotels across the U.S. and Canada, with plans for expansion into Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia.

“Our latest addition is the W hotel located adjacent to the White House in Washington, DC, with 151 taps serving a variety of beverages in the recently renovated property,” she said. “Garth Welsh, director of beverage and food for the hotel recently told us: ‘I love the fact that, at the push of a button, whichever bar you’re at, you’re going to get the exact same drink to the ounce. To me, it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s wine, beer, kombucha, cold-brew coffee or whatever, you get all the same benefits of having those different beverages on tap. Key people within my company come through, see the system and are blown away by it.’”

Once a hotel decides that TapWise is the right solution for its beverage needs, AuBuchon said that Sestra “works closely with each property from start to finish to create the best solution for the venue and to deliver value long after the taps go live.

“Our in-person survey helps us tailor our design; decide what type of station fits in the space; and figure out if any special equipment is needed,” she continued. “Then, we’ll draw up the perfect configuration. The proposal includes renderings; equipment specs; pricing; and a timeline for installation. Our standard installation only takes a couple of hours, and we follow up with a personalized on-site training session. As soon as the stations are connected, our analytics engine gets to work. There’s ongoing support as well. Using our cloud connection, we remotely monitor each system to avoid service interruptions. We provide maintenance, analytics and upgrades.”

She also noted that there is a dedicated support team customers can reach out to, as well as a knowledge base online. “We also engage the community and share best practices in monthly communications,” she said.

Sestra is constantly working on additions and improvements to the TapWise platform, noted the COO.

“Last year, we added new temperature sensors and alerts. We launched Sestra Smart Fobs, which work in unison with our patented Touchless Taps to improve yield and ease operations,” said AuBuchon. “We’ve also entered into key third-party partnerships to expand our ecosystem and integrations, all resulting in improving the guest experience, easing customer operations and improving the bottom line. We’re looking forward to continuing our innovative spirit this year.” HB