The Netherlands will have a new website and app as of June 1 which you can use to make reservations at cafes, bars, and restaurants. With Barbooking.nl, the internet entrepreneurs Kristian Kossen and Roger Heijkoop want to help hospitality companies get through the crisis in an honest way, as they say. At a regional level, a similar initiative will be launched by the Gymeyes company in Den Bosch with a reservation service at kiosks.

79 cents

Barbooking.nl is a relatively larger national initiative with which Kossen and Heijkoop intend to solve several problems simultaneously. Their first goal was to build a non-profit app that won’t cost hotel and catering entrepreneurs anything, Kossen explains. “There are a lot of commercial booking systems out there which charge restaurant owners. We didn’t want that for bars and cafes. All we ask is a modest contribution from the customer to cover our costs.”

This amounts to 79 euro cents per booking for the time being. Of this, about 30 cents goes to the bank for transaction costs, Kossen explains. VAT then has to be paid. What then remains (40 cents) is to cover all overhead costs such as server fees.

The second reason for building the app was simply because there wasn’t anything like it yet for cafes and their terraces, despite the fact that the corona crisis has forced them to regulate the flow of customers. The developers had a limited amount of time. The app was built from scratch in just two weeks.

Anonymous and secure data

Nonetheless, Kossen thinks that the app will be ready for use this coming Monday. “We started today (Thursday) with making the app available to hospitality providers. So, we can’t yet say with certainty how many companies will be connected by Monday. But we are expecting at least 1000 registrations in the next few days.” Consumers can then start using it from June 1 onwards.

It’s time to fill the empty outdoor cafes, Photo Pixabay

That’s the third goal for Kossen and Heijkoop. The app should be user-friendly and as anonymous as possible. “A major advantage of our app is that people don’t have to make reservations well in advance. They can just have the app on hand when they’re walking around a city. So, when they think ‘I’m in the mood for a beer or something to eat’ they can easily check out what places there are in the neighborhood.” Reservations take a minute or so. As there are certain limits to the amount of time you can sit on a terrace, guests are notified via their phone after an hour and three quarters when their time is up. The same goes for the café owner. Then they can all see whether it’s possible to stay longer or not.

In order to safeguard people’s anonymity as much as possible, all you have to do is fill in an email or phone number. “We have to ask that in order to be able to send on the reservation with a QR code.” Kossen guarantees that none of this data will be passed on to other companies. “We are well aware that this is valuable information. It is our absolute number one priority not to let this data end up in other hands or in the wrong ones.”

Other countries are interested

This app clearly meets a need, Kossen says, because there are already several requests from other sectors and countries to build platforms similar to this one. “For example, from South Africa and from amusement parks.”

The Barbooking.nl app will be available for iOS and Android phones. The app has been registered as a foundation, Kossen declares. The initiative came from Icecode BV, the company owned by Kossen and Heijkoop. In day-to-day life, Kossen is a digital entrepreneur and a start-up coach, primarily in the maritime industry. Heijkoop is the founder of several start-ups and has also worked for Digi-D governmental digital platform. He is mainly known as the co-founder of the web hosting provider VuurWerk Internet founded in 1996, a company that caused a furor with its distribution of .nl domain names. The company was sold to Versatel for a large sum of money in 1999.

Service kiosks for the hospitality sector

As mentioned earlier, Barbooking is not the only company that wants to help hospitality companies to boost their revenues. This is also the goal of Gymeyes, which instead uses service kiosks for this purpose.

Mitchell Warmerdam and Melvin Beemer from Gymeyes

The tech company from Den Bosch will be launching a self-service kiosk as of next week. The kiosk does not need any installation and runs on a battery, so it can be used anywhere and everywhere. Guests can use the kiosk not only to order a snack or drink but also to pay directly. All an employee has to do then is serve the order on a separate table.

“We are already familiar with the large service kiosks at fast-food chains like McDonalds, but these entail huge investments. That’s why Mitchell Warmerdam thought that this should be done cheaper and better,” the press release states.

From trampoline parks to cafés

Gymeyes gained recognition in 2018 with a video system for trampoline parks that allows visitors to film their feats and share them on social media. Nowadays, the company has more than 100 affiliated locations in 16 countries. “We can see that many parks could still make huge profits when it comes to hospitality, that’s why we decided to develop our kiosk,” Mitchell Warmerdam says.

The product was initially developed for trampoline parks exclusively. However, after the coronavirus outbreak Warmerdam soon received calls from other hospitality venues, ranging from bowling alleys to children’s parks and grand cafés.

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About the author

Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.