Tech startup Embargo signs major hospitality brands amid COVID-19 pandemic

Major hospitality brands including Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Mouse Tail Coffee, Notes Coffee and Bars, and The Gentlemen Baristas have signed up to tech startup Embargo’s loyalty solution in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Embargo is a loyalty app and CRM platform that enables consumers to search for restaurants, coffee shops and bars in their local area. Through the app users can collect loyalty points and claim rewards – fully contactless, the solution also helps keep staff and customers safe.

Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Mouse Tail Coffee, Notes Coffee and Bars, and The Gentlemen Baristas are among the big names to join Embargo in recent months. The company has signed up close to 100 new customers since the UK lockdown was lifted in July.

Embargo’s app and CRM system provides hospitality businesses with invaluable insight into their customers, enabling an active approach to managing their customer-bases.

They can see how loyal their customers are, how many customers they rely on to drive most of their business and what type of customers return the most – in turn, the companies can identify and reward their loyal customers, which has become increasingly important as a result of COVID-19, with footfall shrinking and return business vital to a venue’s success.

Embargo’s technology also offers marketing features whereby restaurants, coffee shops and bars can communicate directly with past customers via different channels.

Paul Gilchrist, CEO of Thunderbird Fried Chicken, explained why the business signed up to Embargo’s loyalty solution: “The coronavirus pandemic, in a strange way, was actually positive for Thunderbird in some respects. It allowed us to take a step back and re-evaluate the business and reset the dial.

“Consequently, we identified the need to introduce a loyalty scheme. We were looking for a loyalty program that rewarded our regulars but also encouraged new customers to continue returning to our venues. I believe Embargo offers the most cost effective, easy to use and flexible platform to achieve this.”

CEO and co-founder of Notes Coffee & Bars, Rob Robinson, added that replacing paper stamp cards was inevitable in the current climate: “We’ve always had a paper stamp card loyalty scheme but with the drive for a contactless customer journey, going digital was a no-brainer. From all the solutions we have researched Embargo definitely stood out – simple, easy to use, impressive brand recognition, and a personal service ready to respond to the rapid demand that COVID19 brings.”

Founded in 2017 by Tsewang Wangkang and Frederick Szydlowski, Embargo is enjoying strong year-on-year growth. Following its January 2018, Embargo had partnered with 47 hospitality businesses; this figure almost quadrupled to 187 members by January 2019. As of June 2020, Embargo has a substantial client base of 520 bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

Embargo is supported by an expert advisory board including Gerry Calabrese, founder of Hoxton Spirits and Hoxton Gin, and Nick Telson co-founder of DesignMyNight and Horseplay Ventures. 

Tsewang Wangkang, co-founder and CEO of Embargo, said: “Loyal customers are the lifeblood of the hospitality sector – and COVID-19 has only amplified their importance. However, many businesses struggle to develop effective schemes to identify and reward their valuable clientele. This is why we developed Embargo; to help hospitality businesses build and nurture a loyal client-base.

“We are delighted with Embargo’s success in such a short period of time. To have big brands such as Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Gentleman’s Baristas and Mousetail Coffee join our initiative, is a phenomenal boost. Now, we are setting our sights on further expansion – on a national and international scale. We want to give bars, coffee shops and restaurants across the world the tools to strengthen their loyal customer base.”